Friday, October 16, 2009


One of the weirdest things about me, I think, is my obsession with seeing myself on video or in photos. It's not really a narcissistic thing, I promise, but a desire to reconnect with all my memories and keep them fresh in my mind.

I think it's weird not to watch home videos. If you've got them, why not watch them? Isn't that the point? I say this because when I first got into these video-watching sprees, my parents frowned on it a bit. There was an implication that they were meant for when I was much older, like when I had my own kids. I understand that to a degree, but I fail to see the point of recording all this video only to have it sit in boxes, waiting to be dug up years and years later to look back on.

I thoroughly enjoy watching the videos and learn something new every time. On some of the videos, while the kids are being taped, you can hear the adults talking about family drama. The banter between the adults while the kids rip open Christmas gifts is hilarious. I learn about myself - how I was a very quiet kid until my brother was born, at which point I subconciously learned to vie for attention by being loud and chatty; how I liked to explain things, even if it meant stopping my gift-opening to tell everyone every character on the box; when exactly my fear of my two six-foot-tall uncles ceased.

There are also moments that I am so very grateful to be able to see whenever I want, ones that I would have never remembered but that are now ingrained in my memory. I have been blessed to have videos that include my late nana and poppop, because while pictures are good, video is better. I can see how they acted and spoke, remember how they interacted with us, and best of all, hear the sound of their voices. One of the early Christmas videos, when I was the newest grandchild on my dad's side of the family and only about two years old, contains nearly back-to-back moments that pull on every single one of my heartstrings.

The first is with my poppop - a tough man who smoked and drank heavily, with dark tattoos adorning his arms and a rough, hardened face, whose tough exterior was melted only by his grandchildren. And there I am in his arms, in stark contrast with my pale pink party dress and porcelain doll resemblance. He asks for a kiss, but I'm distracted, so he reaches in his pocket for quarters, or as we called it, "monies." Handing it to me, my little fists closing around my prize, my dad prompts me to give him a kiss. My red-lipped little face plants the lightest of kisses on his own mustached mouth; when asked for a hug, my hands full with quarters, I simply lean against his body and rest my head on his shoulder.

The second is with my nana, whom I believe I resemble the most out of anyone in this family. She was kind and giving, worked hard to keep a clean house and put food on the table, always keeping her appearance immaculate. To this day, when I hear her voice on video - the smooth raspiness from years of smoking - it soothes me. This moment might not have ever made it onto video, as I had wandered from the gift-opening to the kitchen, where she was cleaning up dinner. As I sit in a chair that's still too big for me, she answers the question asked of me, "how's Katie?" She says, "Say, I'm beautiful, that's how I am." There's a pause before she says, "do you know how much nana loves you?" And there is not one single moment that could possibly touch me any deeper than that. The first time I heard it (and every time I hear it or think of it), I feel as though she's reminding me, that she's somewhere close, asking that same rhetorical question to which I surely know the answer.

It's reasons like those that make me thirst for every moment of my life that's recorded on film or in photos. I want to drink in every memory so that I can retain those that I've lost or that I never remembered in the first place. My greatest dream is to find a day when I can force the rest of my family to pause, to have all my aunts, uncles and cousins sit together and watch all these memories, so they can be reminded, too. I think it would do us a lot of good.