You can’t help but see the world differently when you start to date a blind man. For all you (woke) readers who think I’m supposed to say “visually impaired”- first of all he (the blind man) calls his own self blind so who am I to say “visually impaired”, and second of all, for Marc, there is no visual impairment. There is just no vision. It was never installed. Doesn’t even know what it is. Blind.
I suspect if you asked a blind person what vision must be like, they’d try to describe a new sense that might keep a person from knocking things over or falling off a curb. Blind people (beeple, for the sake of this essay) know that seeing people (seeple, because I am getting tired of typing out seeing people) know that seeing people, whoops, steeple!, can tell what’s going on by this thing we have called vision, and we do it with our eyes. Marc has really nice eyes, but they just don’t do anything. Well, that’s not true because they do show emotion…more on that later.
The assumption is that seeple can close their eyes and experience what it’s like to be blind. Having watched a blind man all night (on a first date, with me) I can say that that isn’t really true. Marc is actually different, and the more I paid attention, the more differences I noticed.
So this is really about the things that I noticed on our date.
It was a lot to take in.
All my sensors were firing. There was so much to notice.
First, there is something freeing about not being seen by someone, especially on a first date. I spoke to my friend Martha and she reminded me that my date for the evening would not be able to see me, so it didn’t matter if I felt like jiggly puff. It’s an interesting thing to note but in the end, the “he can’t see me” bit turned into a nothing burger. I had the same jitters and changed my clothes twice anyway. And yes, my hair did look nice. I think.
When I arrived the guy at the front of the house called back to Marc that his food was here – which was an obvious joke. Marc lives in a really nice neighborhood, at the back of the main house in a little treehouse apartment. I quickly learned that he’d been making kombucha for ten years and it was so sweet because I brought over store bought kombucha which he drank, not even mentioning his own homemade version until I asked him if he even liked kombucha. He was way ahead of me.
His place was light and airy and clean. It was great to finally be there.
I noted that he did have to feel around for things. Sometimes he nailed what he was reaching for and sometimes he had to make an adjustment and sometimes he just swang away till he caught grasp of whatever it was. He swang hard if what he was looking for could take it, and he had a more refined swing if what he wanted to connect with was something that might be fragile.
When seeple have to feel for things we panic, but dark was natural for him. Funny things happen like it gets dark and there’s no light and you don’t know where you’re going and he takes your arm and says, “I’ve got you.” Do I even have to tell you how romantic that feels?
Marc made me dinner and even did the dishes afterwards “so he wouldn’t wake up the next morning and crash into plates”. I put the food away (it was yummy), and he guided me through where things were kept with the precision of, well, a blind man who knows exactly where everything he owns is kept, all the time. I know where things are kept too but somehow I just don’t seem to learn to always put things back, and often I can’t find the glue.
On the drive to the concert, Marc had a great sense of direction that made me feel taken care of. Plus he could hear Siri through the music. I’m certain he heard with far more precision than most people and I say this not just because he could hear Siri over the music. I witnessed him on his computer and he has a voice reading to him at 70X normal speed or something. It sounded like garble but he could understand it. He said that he didn’t particularly love the sound of 50X normal, but that reading would take forever otherwise.
So, he could hear really well and always seemed to be paying attention to things a little more carefully that I was, all while carrying on a conversation and appearing relaxed. Makes you realize that we tend to sit around like bumps figuring if there were anything interesting in our path, we’d see it. By contrast I think we are lazy.
He wasn’t shy about holding on to me (it was sweet) but he still bounced his cane everywhere and I had to remember not to walk his right side into something hard and unforgiving.
We liked the music.
When you are blind and you move to music, you move the way your body wants to move. Like a child might, but a bit more grown-up.
Like a child, some moves are all your own and you do those moves a lot because that’s the way your own body interprets it and moving like other people move hasn’t even become a thing yet. He seemed a little freer with his body, but nothing crazy. He moved just enough. And it was different. Less to impress others and more to just experience the music more fully.
When Marc smiled it made me realize something. It made me realize he was genuinely happy. I don’t know about most beeple but Marc seemed to smile as an expression of his own feeling of genuine inner smiley. He didn’t much social-smile or smile just because someone else was smiling at him (I know because once I smiled at him and he didn’t smile back even though I was giving him the “I’m smiling at you dude, smile back” face). His smiles were a reflection of his inner enjoyment. They were about HIM.
Are you sensing something a little profound about this, because I am.
In contrast, his voiced responded with a heightened reciprocity and connection as if to both see AND hear me. It was caressing and warm and expressed empathy and attention and connection. He watched me with his voice and he was more fully verbal and also made nicer extra sounds than other people. Or maybe I just liked him.
Marc and I had already talked on the phone and texted a bit and we seemed to hit it off. I sent a few emojis not knowing what he would do with those and he seemed to recognize “poop with smiling face” which made me both rethink the emojis and use them with abandon, for when they are described in words, they are even funnier.
We already liked each other so meeting was more about chemistry and whether or not this blind thing would change anything, or mean anything. At least for me.
All I can say is that I have never felt more naturally and easily connected to someone. So mostly, what I noticed about meeting a blind man was meeting Marc.
Marc IS blind. That’s not all of what he is, but it’s an important part, and it means that there are new things to notice and appreciate.
It is wrong to assume that because Marc is blind, it conferred any extra ounce of humanity on him, but part of it seemed that way.
Maybe we seeple are grateful for our eyes, but sometimes wish we could see the world differently, like Marc does. It’s only an ideal, because for all I know Marc is prejudiced against the smell of peppermint. I’m not giving him qualities he doesn’t possess just because I’m sitting here wistfully hoisting society’s woes onto the situation of perception. I’m not.
Maybe there is a bit of idealization and romanticizing going on, but it’s not the blind thing. It’s because I met someone I really like. Heart emoji. And his name is Marc.