If you’ve got RP, you probably spend part of your time explaining what you can’t see, but also assuring people of the things you can. Because we are losing vision in strange ways, right? Ways that cause other RP types to nod in agreement, while non RP types will answer, wait- I just saw you check your phone-so what do you mean you can’t see me standing beside you?
For me, and I think it’s pretty typical, actually, I was told “classic” (well, thank you) I have a small circle of central vision and some, okay, many gaps-to the sides, above and below that see nothing, and then some peripheral vision at the very outer edges. So I miss a perplexing assortment of things.
1. Handshakes. They happen below by usable central vision, so if I’m looking eye to eye with someone, I don’t see the extended hand. I do scan for it though, if I think we at getting to the part in the introductions where a person might go for a handshake. Sometimes I extend mine first, just so it’ll be done with and I can stop looking.
2. Whatever people are pointing to. I might see the shoulder go up, but that’s it. I have to follow the arm and hand all the way out with my central vision to see what’s being pointing to, and that usually takes longer than the person holds the position. What works best is for folks to say it in words. “Look at that tree” is much faster for me than “look at that.”
3. Wet floor signs. My family calls this kind of sign a “kick me” because if there is one anywhere around, I will kick it. I’ve decided to embrace this one. I try to look as if I enjoyed it.
4. A darting toddler. This one makes me feel awful. I once mowed over a toddler trying to get through a crowd. He was fine, I was horrified and his mother was furious. And I should have explained it to her, honestly. I wish I had.
5. Whatever is left in the middle of the floor. Thank goodness my kids don’t play with Legos anymore. Sometimes I see them skittering in from of me to move their shoes or a backpack. That’s love.
6. My left hand, if looking at my right, and vice versa. I’m a pianist, and it’s turning into a challenge. I’m working on playing with my eyes closed anyway. Great pianists throughout history have played with their eyes closed, right? Doesn’t it connote special concentration or depth of feeling? Or something?
7. Unexpected steps. I know. This is what a cane is for. I’m working on wrapping my head around that truth. But still, would it hurt to put those helpful stripes on the front edges of steps? Please?
8. Stars. I’ve never been able to see them. If you have RP, you’ve never seen them either. I remember seeing a movie showing stars when I was a kid and being baffled. I thought Hollywood was exaggerating, or that it was all a hoax-like astrology. Also stars, right?
9. Anything else in the dark. If you have RP, you get this too. It’s inky black outside and people are moving around freely. What kind of reckless stunt people run around in the dark? Oh, that’s right. They can see.
10. The whole movie screen at once. If you are ever looking for anyone you know at the movies, if they have RP, they’re in the back row. I promise.