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The Blind-guys Secret

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People are always surprised when they find out I'm blind. Maybe because they always expect blind people to be some old man-type, not a 17 year old guy. Or maybe I just don't act like I am. I don't use a cane to tap out where I'm going, and though I always wear dark-tinted shades, that's not uncommon for southern California. Whatever the reason, new people are always shocked. I went a week when I first moved to a new school before the first person learned of my “secret”. And how did they find out? It was the most cliched blind-person thing ever.

“Hey Jake, a bunch of us are 'headin over to this movie tonight. Geeky I know but we wanna see the latest Harry Potter. Wanna come?” Wow. My first official invite hang out time with my new classmates. Too bad it was a movie. After the accident, I couldn't stand them. Sad, I really like Harry Potter.

“No man, I don't really like movies. You know, after I went blind I've sort of had difficulty enjoying them you know?”

“Hah! Er-nice .” But it was one of those nervous laughs, you know the type. I shrugged. “Whoa! You can't be serious can you? Your screwing with me right? There's no way in h*** your um, you can't see.”

“Have been since I was fourteen.” I'm pretty sure it was the dead-pan way I went on eating my disgusting cafeteria macaroni that made him not believe me.

“Aw man! You almost got me too! No way! You're way to good at the surf.”

It took a long, long time for me to convince him. It was hilariously stupid. Why should I have to convince someone about this? But yeah. I'm sorta used to it after all.

“Dude, your telling the truth? What no way! Oh my god...cr*p... um...I'm so sorry man, I um yeah. I didn't know...” Another shrug.

“You really don't um act like your, you know...visually impaired. Man that sucks. I'm sorry.”

Invariably they avoid using the word blind. Then there is an awkward silence which is followed by a: “You don't act like it at all, I'm sorry I didn't know I couldn't tell.” Yeah-no kidding. Then sometimes people will ask: “how long/were you born that way?” Or maybe a; “Can you really not see anything?” Those who know of my passion and mad skills always ask how I can surf if I can't see. They rarely understand that you don't need to see to surf, just to feel, cheesy as that sounds.

Going through this whole routine time after time can be frustrating, but also hilarious. Since I already know what they are going to say, I zone out on the words and just listen to how they say it. I count how many times they swallow in the sentence, how often they say an “um”, etc. People always expect me to be down about it too. The grass is green, the sky is blue, people who can't see a d*** thing are sad about that fact. Sure...

I wasn't born blind. It happened when I was 14. People never ask, but if they did, I would tell them the truth. I'm very open about it. Who cares? The past is the past. It was a suicide attempt. Yup. Drug overdose sent me into a comatose state. When I came around, my sight was lost forever. Don't ask me what exactly took away my vision through that. I don't really get it either, but whatever.

My parents feel terrible about it, of course. Still. Though they've learned to cope and realized that my blindness has probably made me into a better person and all that bull, I can still hear it dripping from their voices. Their fault, their fault, they're to blame. If I told them the truth they wouldn't believe me.

“Hey Jake, I might be a little late picking you up from school okay?” Guilt. “I'm sorry but I have this meeting that will probably go late...but I might be able to manage to sneak out early.”Guilt

“Mom-it's cool. I can walk.”

“Are you sure you can um...manage it, honey?” More guilt, in her tone.

“Yeah mom, I'm not an idiot. I can do it, it's not like I'm handicapped or something.” A laugh.

“I know honey, I guess it's just a mothers worry.” Guilt


Why did I try to kill myself? Good question. Its one I myself ask time and time again. What was going through my head? But I know. It was the same reason most teen suicides happen. I was bullied mercilessly at school. I always tried too hard to be cool, and therefore, I was as uncool as they get. It didn't help that I had no interesting things about me. Male, middle-class, white, non-religious, healthy, equals dull. Another thing is, I didn't have my own identity. I tried so much to be like others that I had no idea who I was. Losing my sight changed all of that.

After going blind my life took a complete turn around. I was put into therapy of course. Physical and mental. It helped, sorta. I changed schools. All I wanted to do was focus on myself and being myself. Apparently when you do that people like you better. I rose in popularity,ironically, now that I didn't care so much. My only drawback as far as people can tell is my sightlessness.

“You know Jake, I wish you weren't, visually impaired. Then you could try out for the team.” Like I would ever go out for football.

“Man-you would get all the girls here, but I think your (cough) blindness sorta scares them away or something.” Don't I know it.

“Son, you were one of the best surfers in that competition. I think a lot of people were surprised when they found out you were blind.” I'll bet.

“Man it must suck not to be able to watch movies.” Uh-huh...yeah...

I don't tell people the truth.
I love being blind. It gave me happiness, it made me more exceptional, it gave me friends, it gave me confidence But more then that, I don't have to see the worlds ugliness. I will never have to see someone give me the middle finger, or a glare, or mock me silently. I will never have to read the New York Times and learn about how many died in a terrible fire, or how bad the economy is. I never have to see a fellow human being snubbed or get shoved into a locker. I avoid the low-self-esteem most teenagers get when looking in the mirror and seeing acne. I never see any of it. Its all still there of course, I know that. But it's hidden from view. I don't want to know or see that, and this way, I don't.




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PJD17 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Mar. 20, 2011 at 3:27 pm:
overall i thought your story was very good  i liked the voice of the main character quite a bit  i do think that your dialouge could use a bit of work though   could you please check out and comment on some of my work?
 
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