From Darkness to Light: Blind Man Struggles After Regaining Sight

Josh climbed in and sat on the floor of the passenger side, between May's feet. Jennifer found her sunglasses, started the ignition, and pulled out onto Post Street. With good traffic they would be in Davis in an hour and a half. May opened his cell phone and began to return business calls, simultaneously making certain that Jennifer didn't miss the turnoff to Route 80. Though May could not see, he possessed a collection of uncannily accurate mental maps—it was that kind of skill, and others, that caused many to consider him a kind of super–blind man.

Once across the Bay Bridge, the couple relaxed a bit. For a few miles neither said anything. Then Jennifer looked over at May and remarked, "Well, that was fascinating."

"It sure was," May said. "It doesn't sound real, does it?" Jennifer hesitated for a moment. She hadn't had time to begin to sort out the implications of Goodman's offer, but she knew this much: something big had happened, and whatever it meant it was certain to be an intensely personal issue for her husband. For that reason she wanted to say nothing, to simply let him process it for himself. But she also needed to hear him talk.

"So, hypothetically," Jennifer finally said, "and we don't know if this would even work, but just for fun, what would it be like? What might you like to see?"

In twelve years of marriage they had never discussed what it might be like for May to see, not even in the playful way in which they allocated imaginary lottery winnings. Since early childhood, May himself had not thought about what it might be like to see, a fact that struck many who met him as inconceivable. The concept of vision simply was not part of his existence. Just the sound of Jennifer's question felt otherworldly to him.

"Well, Dr. Fine made it very clear that I would never see in my lifetime, so it's probably not possible," May said. "But just for fun . . ." Jennifer kept her eyes on the road.

"I think I'd like to see panoramas, especially at Kirkwood," May said, referring to the family's favorite ski resort. "And I'd like to see beautiful women."

"That makes sense," Jennifer said. "You're always thinking about those things anyway."

"Panoramas and women are two things I love but can't go around touching. They can't really be adequately described to me. Those are two things you really have to touch with your eyes in order to fully appreciate." "Where might you go to see these beautiful women—other than your own home, of course?" she asked.

"Saint-Tropez. Straight to the topless beaches." "I need a tan," Jennifer said. "Mind if I go with you?" "If you don't mind me gawking."

"You've been gawking since I met you. What else?" May thought further. He told Jennifer he might like to see the Eiffel Tower or the Statue of Liberty or the Galápagos Islands, all places to which he'd already traveled. Definitely the Golden Gate Bridge. Jennifer nodded and kept driving, past rolling hills and sprawling strip malls. Neither she nor May spoke for a time, each of them content to paw at and then retreat from this new idea. Finally Jennifer asked May if he might like to see their boys.

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