I think my face is caving in on top of my eyeballs. They are squinty and red and hot and itchy and swollen. I can hardly keep them open, and it is not from sleepiness. It feels like my eyes are rolling around in glass shards. They are a mask of pink. The doctor says, “Allergies. They are really bad this year.”
People come to see me in my office at work and jump back. They think I have just experienced a personal tragedy. They whisper to each other that I must have gotten bad news. They think I have been weeping. They are respectful. They try to be discreet. They prepare themselves, bolster themselves up to be supportive. They look at me with great sympathy, ready to offer comfort.
“What the hell is the matter with your eyes? You look awful.”
My colleagues are nothing but honest.
Allergies, I sniff.
They are really nasty here in northeastern New Jersey. Just when you think it’s the taxes that are tough, along comes the tree pollen.
Every year gets a little worse. Itchy eyes, red eyes, post-nasal drip; sneezing, sniffling, and some weird mental confusion, nothing a little Claritin can’t take care of. But this year, the Pollen Queen has arrived and annointed us with the emerald fairy dust of oaks and maples and beeches. I love to see the birth of their tiny fingers spread into mature leaves, but lordy, lord, many of us are getting our eyes slammed shut with allergies, so we really can’t see a darned thing. We ain’t so pretty to look at either.
The eye doctor exhausted the one drug she recommended, then gave me the name and phone number of a dermatologist. I called and promised to give the secretary my first-born son if she would give me an appointment Friday, a mere 24 hours before I drive 5 hours to a rendezvous in Nantucket on Saturday (more on that in a few days).
In the meantime, if you want to know where the weight of the world is, it’s on my eyeballs.