If you have five minutes, watch this
What will happen to this writing, to these stories and ideas, once they come out of your head? Well I recently heard from Derek, who was in the Starlings Flock in the summer of 2017.
I finally got the second of my two videos from The Moth, and I wanted to share with you, because both stories originated as 40 Days / 40 Writes entries (originals attached). I had really never done any autobiographical writing before 40/40, and I don't know if I would have discovered how much I enjoy this kind of writing/storytelling without it. So what I'm saying is: thank you!
And if can brag on Derek a bit: He won.
The theme for the night was “flawed,” and his story was one he first put down for the prompt you’re getting today, “Scar.”
Here’s his stage version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_NntiSs5eIs
And here’s where the story started two years ago:
The Eyes Have It
My first memory is very specific. I'm three years old. I'm sitting up in a hospital bed. I'm being wheeled away from my parents by a man wearing what looks like a shower cap and a face mask pulled down on his chin.
I look at the man and ask, "Do I have to?" He says, "Yes" with a warm, reassuring smile, and I say, "Okay."
The man, I now know, was a pediatric eye surgeon, which in retrospect sounds like the most stressful job a person could have.
The surgery had been planned for months. I had been born with a rare condition where the muscle and the nerve that moved my left eye weren't connected. There was no way to attach them, but the surgery was necessary to stretch out the muscle, so that it didn't contract and make me cross-eyed later in life.
I don't remember any pain from the surgery or any negative feelings or trauma at all around it, amazingly. There isn't even a physical scar around my eye. The mark it left is usually invisible: my left eye doesn't move to the left past a certain point.
It took me until well into my childhood to realize that I have to turn my head to look to the left, or I freak people out when one eye moves and the other doesn't.
My parents were a little concerned that it would affect my field of vision for driving, but I have always seen like this, so I'm used to compensating for it. So much so that I didn't even realize until my late 20s that my eyes operated in a completely different way than most humans.
My brilliant and loquacious ophthalmologist Dr. Hoff pointed out to me for the first time about five years ago that my eyes didn't actually work together. What happened was because they didn't move together, my brain compensated and decided to use the left eye for distance and the right eye for things close-up.
I finally knew why I had never been able to see Magic Eye Puzzles, and why 3D movies always looked blurry to me. Also, why I could never catch a ball: because it would change position suddenly when it crossed over from one eye's territory to the other's.
I don't actually see in three dimensions the way most people do. In a normal person, the brain takes input from each eye and uses the subtle differences between the two signals to create a three-dimensional field of vision. What’s known as binocular disparity.
Because my brain is only receiving input from one eye at a time, the only way I am able to create three dimensions is seeing that one object is larger or smaller or is in front of another because it blocks it from being seen.
Perhaps because I never played team sports, I don't have any physical scars (fortunately), but I do carry a remnant from my surgery—my first memory—that informs quite literally how I see the world.