The characters belong to Stephenie Meyer.
Their experiences are mine to share.
My name is Edward and I am legally blind. This means that the world looks like a watercolor painting to me. It's very bright and beautiful but there aren't a lot of details, even up close.
As I share my adventures with you I will be visiting many points in my life, from early childhood to late parenthood. I will reveal all my dirty secrets, clever tricks and lucky shots and through it all I hope to present a message of perseverance, peace and passion for heart and humor.
I will get to stories about growing up a little later on (there is one about me getting into the wrong car at a rest stop that is priceless) but today I will write about:
The Road Cone
College is difficult when you're legally blind. Classes are impossible to find, everything in the food court looks like macaroni and cheese and the community TV is way up in the corner of the room bolted to the ceiling.
I usually sat in the front row of class so I could see everything the instructor was doing which made me a Poindexter, I know, but I was there to learn. One day while reading along in my text book, a professor accused me of sleeping. To him it looked like I was passed out in an open book but that's just how close I had to get to read.
I informed him of his honest mistake with a rehearsed joke designed to make him feel better and release tension but he was a bit defensive and responded to my joke with a very sardonic, "This isn't the amateur hour."
To which I retorted with an admittedly sarcastic and characteristic, "You coulda fooled me."
He snorted my invitation to leave and I sat waaaaaay in the back after that.
It should be noted that I'm not normally antagonistic, but I am proud. And quick-witted (and proud of being quick-witted) Sometimes it's a combative combination.
I attended Portland State University with my high school sweetheart, Bella. We had separate dorm rooms on campus to keep our parents happy but we spent fifty percent of our college days undressed. We made love under an open window on the seventh floor of the Ondine building every night. The moonlight shared caresses and the city sang to us from almost a hundred feet down.
Bella was very patient with me, even when I had to call her into my kitchenette to check if the taco meat was brown enough to season and serve. Or to tell me if there were any baby cockroaches in the shower before I stepped in.
(Cockroaches are a way of life on campus. It doesn't matter how clean you are when you share a building with seven hundred other people. Freshman year, I shared my kitchen and bathroom with a guy so sloppy that he was practically a cartoon character cliche along the likes of Pigpen. My neighbor didn't have a cloud of dust around him, just a God awful stench. As a matter of fact, I think he was the one attracting all the roaches.)
Anyway, Bella taught me which busses would take me downtown so I could get around on my own. The Number 8 turned out to be my go to line. I would take it down 6th Avenue to the Pioneer Place shopping center that rose above and delved below the city streets. There I would either take the zig-zag escalators up to the music store or eat at the subterranean Steak Escape next to a fountain that was as pale green as Lake Louise.
This next part really has nothing to do with the road cone story and strictly speaking wasn't a byproduct of my poor vision, but I have already gotten off track so here goes:
One day, I was coming down from the Musicland store where I had purchased a copy of Throwing Copper, the sophomore album from the band Live. It turned out to be great CD but had a cover so unattractive that everyone I showed it to that day said, "Damn! That is one butt ugly album cover!"
On a side note, (to my side note) that album took five singles and exactly one year to reach Number One, and Lightning Crashes, the song that finally made it happen for them, is still the only top 40 single with the word placenta in it.
As I was riding the escalator down to the food court and pondering what music could be within such an unfortunate package, (although I was a big fan of their debut album and was expecting something solid) my shoelace (still tied) got caught in the metal teeth of the escalator. I pulled my leg up hard but the lace neither broke nor broke free. I bent down to investigate further but I over-balanced and fell forward.
I had only a few steps left before I would seemingly be squished like Dr. Doom in Who Framed Roger Rabbit so I wiggled like a fish on a hook until I broke free.
Now I can neither confirm nor deny any vocal utterances, yelps or outright screams before I managed to stand up in time to step off the escalator as if nothing had happened, but I can tell you that I was carrying my shoe with two more rides on the meandering stairs before I could reach a place to sit and evaluate my exit strategy.
Do you know how sometimes the hand rails on escalators are jumpy and jerky and move at a different speed than the steps?
I had my shoe resting on the handrail and my hand was on top of the shoe when the spastic rail lurched. My shoe dropped down through the very open floor plan two and a half stories into the fountain in the food court on the bottom floor.
The splash was tremendous. I watched in horror as my shoe (did I mention that it was a high top? Yeah, it was a big meteorite) tumbled through the air and even I saw the starburst of water that blossomed from the point of impact.
All over the nearby diners.
The rest of the ride down was long but eventless. When I finally reached Ground Zero I was greeted, rather coolly, by a security officer. He was under the impression that I was a prankster and had done the dive de la sole on purpose. I explained just a few of the reasons why that made no sense. (Least of which being the fact that one of my waterlogged shoes was still in his hand.) He accepted my story with an 'it figures' look on his face.
My high top was returned and I was offered an escort to the nearest shoe outlet...or exit...my choice.
In college, one rarely has the kind of disposable income necessary to purchase things like shoes (not when Live had a new album out) so I did the only thing I could.
I put on my soggy shoe and listened to the step-squish step-squish combine with the crunching leaves as I walked up the park blocks to campus. I didn't want to take the bus.
Okay, back to the road cone story...
The Ondine building had fifteen floors and a Resident Assistant (RA) in charge of three at a time. I was assigned to floors 6, 7 and 8. I went on nightly rounds, worked a few hours at the front desk every week and hosted activities once or twice a month. Mostly, I was a relationship counselor, a locksmith, a noise cop and the first friend for a lot nervous freshmen.
I was the perfect person to show scared girls with stuffed animals still perched on their beds or tough guys with tattoos and wet eyes that anyone can fit in.
I made friends pretty fast and among the best of them were the other RAs. We commiserated with and supported one another in our own special room furnished with bean bag chairs and a ping pong table. We'd listen to Oingo Boingo (Boingo Alive) and lose a few balls to the hungry 12th floor window on afternoons with light classes.
On days when we could get out of the needy building, we would go to the movies together and it was on one such day that I misspoke after being deceived by my eyes.
Rose was older than Bella and I. She was the housekeeping supervisor for all dozen apartment buildings on campus and lived in the Ondine with her husband, Emmett, and their two children. She decided to go the movie with us and ran up to her 2nd floor apartment to get a jacket for our outing to see Fargo.
When she came back down, I could see through the cement slat steps that she had chosen a bright orange slicker.
Well, I couldn't let her get away with such a hilarious choice in attire so I ran up the first half of the flight to meet her on the landing laughing and shouting, "Oh my God! You look like a road cone!"
It wasn't Rose.
Oh shit. It was not Rose.
It was a guy.
A big guy. And his mustache twitched.
Bella later told me that when I took off running up the stairs, she assumed that I was just going to run past him and pester Rose at her door. By the time I stopped in front of him it was too late for her to stop me.
I did the only thing I could, I ran.
As I passed Bella, she was doubled over in hysterics. She wasn't afraid to laugh at me when the situation was funny and as long as I wasn't going to get hurt. In the case of the road cone guy, I was pretty far away and trucking. I can run really fast, it's usually not safe.
I stopped (hid) at the bus stop until the rest of my friends (still giggling) showed up.
Now, when I go to the movies I have to sit in the fifth or sixth row, but Bella always said it was fine and she never complained. I always felt bad…so bad that I gave her hand massages as we watched films.
I like to read the trivia questions on the screen before the previews show but I can only make out a few letters in each word. Human brains like to fill in the gaps. It's why we see pictures in clouds and why I can read crazy ass sentences as if they were up on screen twenty inches high.
"What pretzel winnebago mouse burned him on socks fart sorting hats?"
"What Denzel Washington movie earned him an Oscar for best supporting actor?
Now that I think of it, I guess the road cone really wasn't the biggest point of this episode but I like the title so I guess I'll keep it.
Until next time...
P.S. Denzel won the Oscar for his role in Glory.
First of all, allow me to address Brutte Parole readers expecting an update today. My vacation was "extended" by a family emergency and although things are better now, it may take at least another week to get that story back on track. In the meantime, I offer this and future epodes of "Cockeyed Optimist" as a literary truffle.
I would also like to welcome anyone who may have found me through the blurry world of Blindward. Welcome to you one and all.
This is the first of what will be a series of semi-autobiographical one shots. Not that I'm running out of ideas or anything but my wife (and beta) observed that we had a lot of funny stories about the trouble my poor eyesight has gotten me into. Over the last year, as I've gotten to know people in the Fandom, I have had many questions concerning the way I see the world and I thought that using Edward and Bella would be a fun way to remember the good times and tell a romantic story.
I am happy to report that I have also written a steamy Bonnie and Clyde-esque one shot for Southern Fan Fiction Review entitled "Unlawful B & E". It will post on the blog on Tuesday, June 7th. I have provided a link to the blog on my author's page for your convenience.
I would like to acknowledge and sincerely thank my wife, Jennifer (aka RandomCran), for continuing to beta my musings while nursing a budding but brilliant work of her own; "Restless" is a gripping and authentic story that has already earned my profound admiration. (I have also included a link to her story on my authors's page for your convenience.)
Finally, I would like to thank Ishouldnotbehere for her diligent read-throughs. Jennifer and I feel lucky to have her as part of the team.