Monday, February 3, 2014

Home Video Heartache

On a whim, my boyfriend decides to hook up the VCR and find random VHS to play. Watching home videos is something I've been meaning to do for the past couple of years, and finally, it happens. The people in charge of filming don't know how to keep the camera steady, resulting in a huge viewer headache. The videos are of times when life was a little more innocent and the scars and self-doubt didn't exist, resulting in a huge viewer heartache.

The first scene is of my family sledding. My dad takes each of us down the hill with him, my mom safely tucked behind the camera. My sisters and I all pile into a long, red sled. They urge Mary to join us. Mary refuses and decides to scoot on her butt next to us, instead of jumping on the bandwagon. Later in life, we find that Mary always does her own thing.

The next scene is of Mary's birthday party. I was obviously peeved that it wasn't my own birthday, begrudgingly eating my piece of cake and making faces at the camera. The camera pans across the living room, soaking in faces I don't remember and ones I do. Men have more hair, women have fewer wrinkles, and relationships still exist.

Then we go to Iowa. My mom questions my four-year-old self; asking if I know who we are going to visit, in which state, and finally, why. In a small voice, I say "because Grandpa died." My sister Linda says "Bunga probably doesn't even remember him." And I don't. And that makes me sad. I also don't know that I will get to meet my only other living Grandpa a year later. And that he will take care of me and I will remember him fondly after he dies in 1999.

It's time to pick strawberries. An event so small and yet not at all. My whole family is there. My parents, my sisters, my uncle and aunt, and some others. We examine the fruits. We bring our own red colanders, a word my mom had me mispronouncing for years. I sit on my dad's knee as he tries to bite a strawberry and feed it to me. My aversion to other people's germs starts early; I bat his hand away. I run through the field, my crop top inches up, exposing my bulging belly, and I don't give a damn. The camera focuses on Mary, she bites into a strawberry, enjoys its sweetness, then scrunches her face from the sour taste. Later in life, my dad, my sister, and I all become allergic to strawberries. I also become allergic to crop tops.

Zoom in on a picnic. Now we're in Duluth. We have several minutes of footage capturing our group taking Asian-photos of everything. I've seen all these photos in albums before, but it's better to see the moving pictures. My dad jokes around with his friend Gary, and they both tease my mom. They don't know at the time that Gary dies five years later from a heart attack triggered by a bout of snow shoveling.

The screen turns to fuzzy lines, the buzz so void, yet so full of everything that was. The tape stops. It automatically rewinds so we can relive it again. And we will. Because even though it hurts to, it would hurt so much more not to.