And faces—nothing has given me more trouble. Eyes, those most important details of a face, are too small to make out unless I am close enough to make out with someone. I didn’t know what color my last boyfriend’s eyes were until after we had been dating for almost six months. Whenever we were close enough for me to discern their color, he kept his eyes closed. I didn’t see his eyes until we were riding a city bus on our way to a concert on an early May evening, squished next to each other on the seats. He turned slightly to me, the light was just right, and I finally saw out of my right eye that his left was brown with textured traces of gold, simultaneously soft and hard in color.
Last year, I was watching TV on my 24-inch computer monitor, sitting less than a foot away, and saw a close-up of someone rolling her eyes. At thirty, I was seeing that gesture for the first time and it was nothing like I had imagined. Inspired, I wanted to get a glimmer of what it is to read feelings in eyes, so I watched Grey’s Anatomy, scrutinizing characters during emotionally wrought scenes, their faces taking up my whole screen. Though I felt all the feelings from the context, the music, the minute changes in pitch and inflection in their voices and the larger facial gestures, I could see nothing in the eyes.
This is an excerpt from an essay in which I explore a few different aspects of albinism and blindness.
I can’t read the nuances of faces but mine is a direct display of every undulation in my emotional current. My face is a one-way mirror.
Still, others often don’t see my personal, particular face.
People sometimes asked if my albino friend and I were twins. We were nine years apart and my face was longer, drawn while hers was rounder, more full. Worse yet, at an albinism conference, my dad came up to the girl next to me and told her it was time to go, mistaking her for me.
My face is at once expressive, transparent and invisible.
This is from a class I took called Personal Essay Writing. The assignment was to write about your face in EXACTLY 100 words. No more, no less. It led to a lot of obsessive editing.