By Jenny Morris
For the first half of our lives we laugh at our relatives. Then we watch in fear. And finally we look over our shoulders for approaching crazy.
What if it really is in the DNA?
I have two hoarders in my family tree — two that I know of — and from time to time, I inspect myself like a potential cancer patient examining suspicious moles.
Life experiences often affect the severity of mental illnesses, DNA induced or not. In my favor, I have changed households 15 times in the last 28 years. At roughly more than one move every two years, I’m glad to still have my salvation.
Even so, every once in awhile I pick a shelf or a closet to cull through. A month or so ago, it was the medicine cabinet’s turn. In one toss of the wrist, out went the homeopathic eye wash that had rested in its bottle for the past eight years.
I’ve regretted it since last Tuesday when I inserted my contact lens and felt it settle uneasily. I pulled it out and cleaned it again. That didn’t do the trick, so I grabbed a bottle of eye drops to take with me.
I winked at students throughout the morning and sat with one hand over my right eye while I talked to colleagues. At noon, I got my first concession that something was wrong. “That eye doesn’t look so good,” my lunch mate said.
The next morning, correcting for near vision in one eye and far in the other, I put in one contact and wore a pair of glasses. I struggled with depth perception on my commute between campuses.
After five days on antibiotic drops, I look like I’ve colored both eyes with a red dry erase marker. In our handshake-obsessed culture, I’ve taken to announcing my infection three feet out. Given the reactions, perhaps I should also carry a bell and a sign.
Unable to wear either contact, I’ve constructed a pair of homemade bifocals that would make Ben Franklin proud. Despite this innovation, I’ve given up grading papers under the fluorescent lights.
Eyes burning out of my head, I looked in desperation for an old pair of prescription sunglasses from my two years in Arizona. Somehow I had kept them through eight moves. I’ve long felt like a modern Anne Sullivan. Today I wore them to class and looked the part.
But finding those glasses threatens to activate my recessive hoarding genes.
If that happens and a reactionary purge begins, my No. 1 goal will be to keep my eyes.