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The Not-So-Epic Day of Blindness

By Billy | October 13, 2008

So I’m writing this long after the events have actually occurred; I thought to do this at first to make sure I could contemplate the facts and relay them accurately with a clear head. Eventually, that train of thought lead to my ruin, and I have a great deal of distance between the events and the recording of them. Boo hoo. Here goes, anyway.

I have been thinking about this day — this day I made, since at least fifth grade. I wonder what it’s like to be blind. I think that would be a really interesting and different existence. The world must look so different when you don’t have eyes to see it!

There was never a right time to do it, I felt. I wanted to experience the world whilst being blind, not just laying around the house doing nothing because I’m unable to see. By the time I had spend two weeks at JMU, I knew my friends, my disposition, my emotional state, my frame of mind, etc., were right for this to happen.

“Guys, will you help me be blind for a day? Two Fridays from now I will be putting a blindfold on at Midnight and I’d really appreciate your help since I wont be taking it off for 24 hours.”

My friends lovingly obliged. I immediately leaned a lesson about *planning* (I’ve inserted those stars because I hope to make a post explaining this later…) and I knew from then on that I’d be learning quite a bit from this experiment.

I “chose” Saturday as my day so that I’d be able to take my time getting from place to place, potentially use the same guide to help me from place to place (and they wouldn’t have to leave me alone because they were going to class or something) and I’d potentially be able to spend the night with someone if I couldn’t get a walk back to my room. This eventually turned out to be useless, since I had times of being a lone, and I didn’t spend the night with anyone else. I guess it was nice to feel no pressure getting from place to place, though. Maybe my next experiment will happen on a weekday.

Gah! On to the day.

“Okay guys, I’ll see you in 24 hours.” I say this as I roll up the cow-pattern bandana and lay it over my eyes. The dorm room held 5 people, talking, laughing, enjoying the evening… Within the first five minutes I understand somewhat of what I will be facing for the next 24 hours. My friends Laura and Nick decide to join me in darkness for a while, so they place blindfolds on and we clumsily crawl around the room for a bit. The conversation focuses around the interesting experience of not knowing where anyone or anything is for just a bit.

I ask my friend Adella a question… No reply. She and the fourth friend, I find out later, had been out of the room for a number of minutes already. This suddenly made me feel very vulnerable. At first I was worried about the cluelessness with which I would be stuck for the next 23 hours and 50 some minutes, but that feeling quickly shifted to worry about how liked I was by the friends in the room.

Someone decides to go for a snack. I hear the sound of something crunchy and wonder what it could be. “Oooh! Let’s see if Billy can figure out what were eating!” Laura says in her usual manner of speaking. I agree; pretty sure I’m listening to the sound of a Goldfish (Baked and made with real cheese) being munched. When the baby carrot lands in my mouth, the texture is entirely unexpected. Again, my first instinct is to assume some trick has been played on me. These two incidents epitomize the way I this handicap made me feel all day.

I realize explaining in this detail would be entirely boring for both you and me, so I will go at break neck pace (compared to how the day progressed for me). Here are the more memorable and interesting things that happened from one midnight to the next.

For starters, the walk home was fairly enjoyable. I learned that a) my friend Lisbeth is not a great guide, especially when she can’t see due to the darkness of night. I fell down three sets steps whilst she said, “ummm look out, there are stairs happening soon.”

b) would have to be that eyes are usually necessary for walking in straight lines for me, since I could not do this on the walk home with Lisbeth.

All in all, though, thanks for the help, dear.

When I woke up, I managed to find my way to the shower with my shampoo and what not – I am proud of that. I took off the blindfold and kept my eyes closed whist I showered. I manage to get out of my building clean and incident free minus hitting a poor guy with my cane while he was using the urinal.

Outside was big and scary — I tried to walk with a cane against the curb until I reached my friends dorm. This seemed logical until I started hearing the 700 girls a couple dozen feet down the road — It was time for Fall Rush for the sororities. I sat down and tried to call Adella to come and get me. Instead, I called my friend Caleb twice. I shrug and wait for someone to pass by, ask her to help place a call, and then I tell Addie to come save me.

Brunch was as enjoyable and difficult as expected. We played a little game of Guess The Food, which I enjoyed except the cherry tomato, which I spit out.

After Brunch, it was time to go to town. I was the only one who knew how to get to the building at which the bus stopped, so finding the place was a lot of fun. The bus was empty and fun — someone apparently started pounding on the bus windows to harass their friend, who was driving the bus. This thoroughly scared me, Nick, Laura, and Allison — the only of our crew who had decided to go down town.

Once downtown, I bought some 1$ sandals, helped Allison pick out some sunglasses (based on how they felt on her face) and got yelled at by a horrible lady at Goodwill. You are apparently not allowed to sleep on the furniture in Goodwill – to do so will earn you a nasty scolding. This was the only time all day I wanted to remove my bandana. I NEEDED to get out of that store and away from that lady, but I had no clue where in the store I was or where my shoes even went. I toughed it out and sat uncomfortably until Laura came and found me. She walked me outside, where I sat for a bit listening to some lady talk her friend through some difficulties I didn’t need to hear about.

As it turns out, the bus had stopped running and we had to walk the mile back to campus. I held Allison’s arm and began to march. In order from good to bad, I preferred Allison, Nick, then Laura. Laura earned her place at the end after she let me walk directly into so many things.

Wow. I just realized how boring of a post this is. Trudge along, Billy. Trudge along.

Okay. So meals when you can’t see are really fun. I had people get my food for me and had to ask many times whether or not I had finished my food. I’m realizing now that this post is terrible so I’m finishing it up quickly.

In fact, this will be it. I learned a lot of lessons that I don’t really care to share with the entire world. Being blind is extremely humbling, confusing, exhausting, and causes many insecurities to surface. I would do it again, and very well may do so. Someday I will do it in conjunction with several other handicaps.

Time to close this post and cover it with better, more entertaining stuff. Thanks for the read!

Topics: Nonfiction, Utterly Random | 5 Comments »

5 Responses to “The Not-So-Epic Day of Blindness”

  1. Poopty Hoopty Says:
    October 13th, 2008 at 10:10 pm

    I found your story to be extremely captivating. It provided much pleasure to my dull, humdrum considering I live under a rock and all.

    mm yes.

    Yours Truly,
    Senor Poopty Hoopty

  2. xclite Says:
    October 15th, 2008 at 9:42 am

    Sounds like an interesting day. Despite having terrible eyesight, I feel I would be ridiculously crippled without any at all.

  3. jim Says:
    October 19th, 2008 at 10:06 am

    A friend of mine did a wheel chair-bound day for class once (she was a bio major). When I saw her, I stopped in my tracks and said “What the hell happened?!” And she explained, and said that the hardest part was when people she knew would just walk by without stopping like that.

    We might be able to dig up my old leg brace from the surgery if you want to try being crippled.

  4. Billy Says:
    October 19th, 2008 at 11:29 am

    Wow. I can definitely see that as being the most difficult part. I didn’t find my week of stiff legged-ness entirely too difficult (I had sliced my knee open at the same time as you!) but I do want to find some crutches! I am interested in experiencing one leggedness by binding my feet together. Maybe I’ll put your right legged brace and my left legged brace on! 😀

    Someday, when I find someone I KNOW won’t be totally hating me for asking to do this, I will tie my forearms together behind my back and be completely armless for the — hmm. maybe the weekend. These things are turning into much more than 24 hours in my mind. We shall see.

    Thanks for reading and thanks for your comments!

  5. Lisa Says:
    October 26th, 2008 at 10:17 am

    You are an amazing person, Billy. I am pretty sure I don’t have the courage to try something like this.

    My dad was blind from diabetes (I was only 6 months old at the time he lost his sight) and it was definitely interesting growing up with a blind parent. How he got through life, I have no idea. I can imagine it is a humbling experience. Yet, my dad was comfortable enough with getting around that they sent him to help others who had recently lost their sight. He’d teach them how to get on buses, walk around town and other things.

    Anyway, I’m glad you FINALLY wrote about it – and would love to hear more of your thoughts about it.