Monday, May 10, 2010

Through Another’s Eyes

by Specs4ever

I eagerly opened the brown paper packaging that my parcel came in. The package inside was carefully bubble wrapped, and I pulled it off to reveal a silver case. What I had been expecting from a friend of mine in Germany was a pair of antique, high minus glasses, and I could hardly wait to open the silver case enclosed. I opened it carefully and found a pair of glasses, again surrounded by bubble wrap. I removed the final layer of bubble wrap, and carefully examined the glasses. They were rimless, with fine oval shaped lenses. Their width was perfect for my face, but as I stretched out the cable temples, and tried to slip them over my ears, I noted that the temple length of the original owner had been very short. Although the pupillary distance seemed about right for me, at 64 mm, I suspected that these glasses might have been originally the property of a very nearsighted young lady. Although the lenses were not what I would have technically called myodiscs, they were beveled all around the lens, giving a 3 to 4 mm oval border on the outside of the central oval lenses. They were lovely. I put them up to my eyes again, and felt the rush that always comes when I try to see through the blur of very strong myopic glasses.

These glasses were a gift from my friend in Germany, and although my collection is well hidden from prying eyes, they would play a prominent part in my collection. I drove to my home, and put the glasses away, to examine them closer at a later time.

It was a day or two before I got back to give my latest acquisition another examination. Usually I put in contact lenses of various prescriptions, and try to determine the prescription of the glasses based on the power of the contacts that give me the best vision, but today I was not alone, and would not have the time to do this. If I heard someone coming up the stairs to my office, I could whip off the glasses, and hide them in my desk drawer, but I had been caught having to sit and talk to friends once too often without being able to see anything because of the high-positive contacts that I had to wear to see with the high minus lenses in the glasses. This then gave the effect of being very myopic, making me essentially blind. I had never been caught, but it had been too close for comfort a couple of times.

So, even though I was a bit tired, I slipped the glasses on, and tried to focus my sleepy eyes. As I tried to focus, everything became perfectly clear to me. But, was it to me or to someone else? Something strange was happening.

I heard a young girl’s voice with a foreign accent.

“Auch, Papa, zese are soo much better dan es was mit mein aldt wons,” the voice said.

“ Und soo, es shouldt be mein kleinen Fraulein, mit die starke Brille,” a much deeper, louder voice replied.

I seemed to see everything very clearly. The man was a heavyset gentleman with a prominent moustache, wearing a very strong pair of rimless, high minus glasses. We were in an office, and it looked to me as if it were an optician’s office. The man took her hand, and led her out the front door to a waiting carriage.

Just then I heard my shop door close, and footsteps sounded on my stairway. I grabbed the glasses off my face, and placed them quickly in the drawer of my desk, wondering what was going on.

It was another couple of days, before I could get a few more minutes to spend with my glasses collection. Of course, I went immediately to the silver case with the beautiful rimless German glasses, and again I put them on.

This time, when the blur cleared, I was in a poorly lit classroom. From my seat in the front row, I could see the writing on the board, but my mind couldn’t understand anything that was written there. I looked around the classroom, and saw that it was filled with many children, probably around 14 or 15 years of age. For the next little while, it seemed that I was in a classroom in a small school, somewhere in Germany, and although my comprehension of the language was minimal, I began to understand that the glasses I now had in my possession had belonged to a highly myopic, young lady named, Heidi.

For the next few months, I would go to my office, put on Heidi’s glasses and sit back to enjoy another part of her life. Heidi was apparently extremely intelligent, and was at the top of her class. She was not particularly popular with the other children, because she was very quiet and very shy, but she did get along well with everyone. I was pleasantly surprised that, although she was the only person in her class wearing glasses, no one seemed inclined to tease her about her strong glasses, or her extremely poor, uncorrected vision. Without her glasses, she was essentially blind and she consequently always wore her glasses.

I did find that when I had Heidi’s glasses on that her life seemed to flash by. It had only been a few months since my friend had shipped me the glasses, but already Heidi had completed the grade she was in, and was going on to another school. I also found that if I tried to wear the glasses too often, or for too long of a period of time, Heidi’s life accelerated faster than I wanted. So, it became a treasured hour for me once a week to slip away from my own life, and enter the life of a young, very nearsighted, German girl. How this was possible, I didn’t know. And, I was uncertain, how long this would be possible with these wonderful pair of glasses. So, I paid close attention, and I was able to ascertain that Heidi’s father was called Hans, her mother was Katrina, and her brother was Ludwig. Heidi’s parents, and her brother were all extremely myopic, and when, through her eyes, I met her aunts and uncles, as well as her cousins, I discovered that very high myopia was present in almost every member of her mother’s side of the family. Her father was the only one in his family with poor eyesight, but his myopia was also extremely high. I took note of their family name, which was Schumann, and I discovered that they came from a town called Baden, in central Germany.

It seemed like no time at all had passed since my friend shipped me the glasses, but in actual fact, I had been looking through them into the life of the Schumann family for around six months. This, according to my calculations, was a bit over 2 years of Heidi’s life. I wasn’t too terribly surprised when I discovered that her glasses were having to be pushed closer and closer to the bridge of her nose, before she could focus on anything more than a few feet away from her and that she was squinting her eyes frequently to see things. So, when I found myself one day, sitting in a chair in a waiting room, I knew that I would find out if my ability to see into Heidi’s life would end when she received her new glasses with stronger lenses. I had already discovered that when she took them off, the spell was broken, so I felt that my days of looking through her eyes were probably numbered. And, as I had suspected, the day that Heidi picked up her new glasses, and packed away her old ones was the last day that I was able to look into her life.

I thought for quite a while about what I should do. I wanted to go to Germany, and see if I could find Heidi’s family. Although she would be well into her early 80’s by now, I was very anxious to see what she looked like as a grown lady, and I also wanted to see if her family’s high myopia had been passed on to her descendants. But, I didn’t know where to start.

I thought about this for a few days, and decided I should e-mail my friend who had originally sent me the glasses. I doubted that he would believe my tale, so I just told him that I was trying to get a trace on a German family that were descended from a Hans Schumann, who originally came from Baden, and I asked if he could help me out.

It took a couple of months, but one day I received an e-mail from my friend. In this e-mail he told me that the Schumann family had left Germany for the United States just prior to the beginning of the Second World War. It appeared that Mrs. Schumann’s family had been of Jewish decent, and they had been fortunate enough to escape before the hostilities, with much of their possessions intact. Funny, but I had known of the Jewish connection, and I should have thought of this.

One thing about the Internet is that it opens up a lot of possibilities. I was able, through an Internet detective agency, to find that the Schumann family had come to New York in late 1938. They had then moved to Chicago. Heidi had married, and been blessed with 2 children. I had the necessary addresses, so as soon as it became possible for me to do so, I went to Schaumburg, Illinois, where I was determined to find Heidi and her family.

With the address, and the phone number, it was easy for me to find the home that the former Heidi Schumann now lived. But, what was not so easy was for me to figure out how to approach her. The true story would have given folks cause to have me thrown into a hospital for the mentally insane, and to tell you the truth; I was a bit skeptical of the fact that I had made it this far.

I decided that the only way that I could play this game out was for me to meet Heidi somewhere. I didn’t want to end up spending time in a Cook County jail, as a stalker, so I was going to have to take it slow, and easy. I rented a car, a nondescript gray Chevy, so for a couple of days I parked up the street, and watched the house to see if anyone left. On the second day, as a reward for my patience, I saw a fairly new full sized automobile pulling into the driveway. From the appearance of the car, along with my noticing a well-dressed chauffeur driving, I suspected that it was a private for hire car. The driver went to the front door, and a white haired, little old lady came out. The chauffeur assisted her into the back of the car. I had already done some calculations. It had been 1934 and Heidi had been 14, when I had started my trip into her life through her eyes. Now it was 2002, so Heidi was 82, and so she was likely the little, white haired lady in the rear seat of the car.

I put my nondescript rental car into gear, and followed the chauffeur at a discreet distance. I was relieved when the chauffeur-driven car pulled into the parking lot of a large, well known shopping center, a few miles from her home. The chauffeur parked in a handicapped spot, and I found myself a nearby spot. He was assisting Heidi into the mall, and I had hurried to be able to position myself at a point where it was a natural courtesy for me to hold the store door open for the two of them to enter. I followed, and quickly held the inner door open as well. I gazed through the very thick myodiscs lenses that she was wearing and into the very eyes that I had seen the world through so many of her years ago. This was definitely the right person, and all I had to do was to somehow worm my way into her life.

“It is so good of you to be helping your Mother this way,” I said to the chauffeur.

“Auch, hee ist nicht mein son. I only haf two daughters,” Heidi said as she thanked me for my courtesy.

“You must be of German decent,” I said to her, as I tried to keep a conversation going.

“Ya, es still shows, after zoo many years. I komme to diese kountry as a Kindt of youst 17 year, and I still halb nicht lost zee accent,” she remarked. “Meine husband, Gott Bless his soul, thought dat meine accent vas a vonderful reminder of my heritage, but many times, I half vished, I kouldt sprecht more like die Americana.”

“My father spent some time in Germany after the end of the war. He was with the Canadian Army, and he was posted to a small town called, Baden.” I lied. “My mother and I lived there with him for a year, and he told me some wonderful stories about that part of Germany, but I was too young to remember much.”

“Auch, Mein Gott, das ist die very same town vhere I vas born, und lift. I vould be very interested in spreching more mit you, but fur right now, I must do mein shopping, as meine driver has oter peoples to assist. Vould et be possible fur you to fisit mit me sometime at mein haus?” she asked.

I told her that I would be pleased to call on her within the next day or so, if she was free, and she gave me her address and phone number. So, the following morning, I called, and asked her if it would be a good day for my visit, as I found myself with some free time on my hands. Heidi told me that her daughter was also coming to visit, and possibly I could stay to have lunch with them. Naturally I accepted, and we agreed that I would come around 10:00am.

So, 10 o’clock found me driving up to Heidi’s home. I had returned the nondescript gray car to the rental agency, and I was driving a bright red Mustang convertible. There would be no way that I could have tailed anyone in this car without being noticed, but since that part was done, I felt that I should drive what I wanted to.

Heidi met me at the door, and invited me in. There was a lady, who I assumed to be one of Heidi’s daughters, sitting in the living room, and as I came into the room, I noticed that she too wore very strong, thick glasses. They were normal lenses, not the myodiscs that her mother wore, so I knew that her prescription was not as strong as her mother’s. But, even assuming that they were high index lenses and being small, they still gave the appearance of being quite strong, as they were concave in font and were quite thick, extending several millimeters in back of the frame. Heidi introduced me to her daughter, Helena, who was a stunning, natural blond, beautiful enough to have been a model. She had an outstanding figure and was tall, a little less than my height, and had long, slender legs. And her glasses were very interesting, seeming to enhance her features, even though they were very strong. For the next couple of hours, I had an extremely interesting time. I kept looking at Helena’s eyes behind her thick glasses and finally could see that they were a beautiful, dark blue. I had realized that my non-existent time in Baden would have been after the Allied bombing, and I hoped that I wouldn’t give myself away too badly. But, Heidi accepted that my memory was that of a very small child long ago, so she didn’t go into a lot of detail. She did ask about some buildings, such as the school, and her church. I had seen both buildings through her eyes, so I merely told her what I remembered about them, and I told her that they had either not been badly damaged, or else had been rebuilt. I thanked my lucky stars that Heidi had never returned to the town of her childhood, as I am sure that she would have known, I was a liar.

After a very pleasant lunch, Helena told her mother that she would have to leave to catch a bus back home. Naturally, I offered to drive her home, since she lived in the nearby suburb of Arlington Heights. When we were safely belted into the car, Helena asked me if I would put the top down for her, so I did. She said that she loved to ride in a convertible when the weather was so nice.

“Do you have a car?” I asked.

“No, my eyesight has gotten so poor that I cannot drive anymore. I have had to take the bus most of the time for the past 10 years,” she replied.

“That must be a pain, especially when you come over to your mom’s,” was my response.

“My husband often drove me, but he died last year, so it has been a bit difficult for me lately,” came her reply.

I couldn’t believe it. All my life I had been searching for a lady that was as beautiful, and as highly myopic as Helena was, and now I had been fortunate enough to have Helena dropped right into my lap. Or, was it fate that had made it possible to see through her mother’s glasses and eyes when she was very young in Germany and subsequently brought us together this day? No matter, I had been handed a perfect gift and opportunity.

I dated Helena several times, going to the theater, movies, swimming, and baseball games. Helena was a good swimmer and very much liked to do it, as she said it kept her in shape. Helena also introduced me to the Chicago Cubs. It seems that she became a baseball fan because of her husband’s interest. Although, Helena seemed to see pretty well with her glasses, I could often tell that she did not see everything very clearly. She could not read street signs and see other small things in the distance. She had difficulty-recognizing people unless they were quite close. She had to hold things quite close to her glasses to read. So, she really was my very own, very myopic girl that I had always wanted. She was also a fantastic lover, and I fell very much in love with her.

Within a year we were married, and we are a very happy couple. I love looking through the lenses of her glasses, with all the concentric rings, into her beautiful dark blue eyes. She almost always wants to make love, wearing her glasses, so she can see.

Specs4ever, with editing, and German Dialect courtesy of Aliena.

June 2002

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