I See In Chillwave

A writerly short written summer 2014

I walk down the street not thinking much, but incredibly content.  It’s rainy and cold.  My glasses are covered with water droplets and fogging up.  I take them off.  “Road Work Ahead” reads ablur.


I don’t have perfect eyesight (hence the glasses), but sometimes, I want to see the world with the blurry edges because it feels the most real.  No enhancements.  Nothing extraneous.

I’ve always been interested in photography.  I’ve taken a lot of pictures. Pictures of travels and pictures in the day to day.  Both digital and film photography.  Day and night.  Color and black and white.  

I have an old camera collection, consisting of cameras such as a Minolta, Kodak Brownie, Argus and Shanghai Rolliflex (to name a few).  Additionally, I have a Diana for that retro feel.  My first DSLR was a Canon Rebel.  Now, I have a Canon 60D.

Each camera type serves a different purpose.  Back then, I found the film I needed and paid exorbitant amounts for odd size film development.  120 and 127.  When I worked in the Walgreens photo department, I’d develop digital and film photos alike.  I’d then cut them out to make collages from the images. I created layers and layers of goodness.  (And I guess with this free freedom, costs sort of balanced out.)

Most of the cameras I used didn’t require much manual focusing.  But in the event I was trying to capture a certain feature or light, I would manually focus my images.   

I didn’t get glasses until I was a senior in college.  I never knew I needed them.  I thought everyone saw like me.

My eyesight wasn’t bad distance wise, but with a severe astigmatism, my world was unknowingly disoriented.

I remember when I wore glasses for the first time, I went around in a sort of stupor.  “I can see.”  I looked around quietly, amazed with every glance.  I looked at some photographs I had taken with a  manual focus and saw the subtle blur.  

Being able to see turned into this sort of philosophical understanding.  Before the world was a slight blur and now it was sharp.  

A week after getting my first pair of glasses, I lost them.  I searched everywhere.  High and low.  I can’t express how many times I looked in the freezer, behind the fish.  

I eventually got another pair of the same type of glasses.  Ray Bans.  But, that experience always stuck with me.  I was amazed by how well I was able to see and then, that was taken from me. What loss. I have memories of how long and hard I searched my grandparents’ Florida apartment, exasperated, where I was convinced they had to be.  

Years later, 5 years to be exact, I was in North Carolina at my grandparents’ mountain home called Birchwood.  I was there alone.  I’d recently gotten out of a terrible relationship and was working in Asheville.  I’d felt incredibly in touch with myself.  What I wanted and what I didn’t.  I felt silly for being so well duped, but I’d already learned to love myself and treat myself with utmost kindness.

I had no idea what I was supposed to do.  I take these risks, convincing myself they are not so much risks.  What do I ignore?  What do I fail to see?  How do I learn from this?  I didn’t have a backup plan.

I hardly spent any time at Birchwood.  I was gone most of the day.  One evening, I went to look for toothpaste and on my way, on their bedroom dresser, stood these Ray Bans.  Not thinking much, I put them on my face.  

They were mine.  

The ones from 5 years prior.

How did they end up in the mountains?  Where had they been?

I was again, in another stupor.  I was ebullient.  The mystery is solved! I found what I lost!  I found my vision.

It was one of the most bizarre moments of my life.  I found something filled with symbolism and I didn’t quite know what to make of it, nor do I ever.  All I knew was discovery’s good omen.

I later lost those glasses again.  But by this time, all the meaning they had within them was already used up.  

When I lost them the second and final time, it meant so little.  It was like losing a bobby pin.

When it comes to sight, part of me feels more connected with the blur.  There’s a truth to it.  I continue down the street seeing everything like a Monet.

I like my music like that too.  Something dreamy.  Something very much akin to Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse.  No assurance.  No yes or no.  Meaning abounds, but not acute meaning.  It’s meaning in the subtleties.  The nuances speak more than explanations.

My favorite genre is chillwave, specifically from around 2010-2014.  Think: Washed Out, Tycho, Wild Nothing or Memoryhouse.  The nostalgia is wonderful.  The way the music all blends together.

I arrive back at work.  I get in the elevator and put my glasses back on.  They are still foggy.  I step out of the elevator and look out the window toward the mountains.  

I see in chillwave.

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