I truly believed I was developing glaucoma. Everything around me was gray. It was as if I saw the world through cheesecloth like a close-up they use on an aging actress. I don’t even know if that‘s what glaucoma is like, but as far as I was concerned I had it. Turns out I just lived in New York all my life and didn’t know any better. Once I moved West my first thought was “So that’s what they mean by a blue sky”. I mean you can see things, really see things. I went right out and bought a tube of ultramarine for my landscapes. Of course the drawback is there is very little air to block sunlight, and the oxygen content is thirty parts per million.
It took some time adjusting to the high altitude. Opening cans required a quick ten-minute nap. And I’m still getting use to mowing the lawn while wearing a nebulizer. My lungs keep asking me “hey, where’s all the crap that use to be here?” in my fading Long Island accent. Like an ex-smoker clearing out his lungs, I spewed out tar balls the size of walnuts for a week.
If it wasn’t bad enough living at 5,200 feet, my wife suggested that we take a drive up to the mountains our first week. “You mean we can go higher?” I asked all dried and cracked as if auditioning for Jack Klugman. When the signpost read “You are now two miles above sea level” my heart let out an audible squeak like a strangled hamster. Once we got back down below tree line I breathed easier. And I mean that in every way possible.
It doesn’t seem to be affecting my wife and daughter as much. I guess fifty plus year old men have a different metabolism. Especially ones that stopped working out. On top of that, because my body is not getting its daily carcinogenic requirements my appetite for junk food has increased ten fold. I’m shoving cupcakes, pies, potato chips, and cookies down my throat faster than they can stock the shelves. And this is from a guy that weighted 160 pounds in sixth grade! I had a higher fat content than a Happy Meal.
So I should be healthier living here and I hope some day that is true, but for now it’s just one step, then a deep breath, at a time.