This past Monday was my birthday.
No magical number or anything. Just a general “you’re getting older” sort of day. I felt very adult by the fact that I actually scheduled a doctor’s appointment for that day. It was a bit stressful for me and my system, but I don’t really want to discuss that right now.
The main gift from my mother was a simple DVD.
It turned out to be a compilation of all these family video clips from when I was a toddler. From before we moved to Ohio. For some reason I cannot entirely comprehend, I was terrified to watch this DVD. I let it sit.
With the freshly filled script of Ativan, I finally brought myself to watch it the other day.
It was a roller coaster of emotion. As expected, I suppose.
I’m going to list my main observations in a list to sort them out better.
1.) I have not always been shy. Through various clips I am very outspoken and interact joyfully with all relatives and friends of my family. This was surprising to see.
2.) There are multiple Christmas clips (from two or three years’ worth of holidays) and though I don’t recognize the event itself, there are gifts/toys that I recognize. There are gifts that Armes especially exclaims over from deep inside my brain. It gives me a smile and yet deeply wounds me at the same time.
3.) My paternal grandmother is featured prominently in many of these clips. She passed when I was 8. I do not remember her unless I really think about it. I remember how she used to collect the Beanie Baby toys McDonalds had for a time. She wasn’t a fan of fast food, but she collected as many as she could just for me because I loved stuffed animals (and Beanie Babies). I remember that she would use any excuse to send me a package in the mail. I used to even get “First Day of School” packages with little gifts.
It’s hard to remember the funeral. But I do remember that for months afterwards, I talked about how her “ghost” watched me and tried to protect me. Dad tried to logically explain how that wasn’t possible until he’d had enough and told me to “cut it out”. I stopped talking about her altogether. I remember that many years later, when we moved to our new house (his current house) and the basement seemed to be creepy and weird to my friends, I told them I wasn’t afraid because “Grandma watched out for me”. I don’t think I even entirely knew what I meant.
It was shocking to see her face on the screen. And yet…her face is not unfamiliar to me. I can’t explain it well.
4.) My father only briefly appears in two clips.
5.) There are clips at the beginning where my mother seems to be recording “for” my father (because he is deployed with the military at the time) and tries to get me to talk to him. My toddler-literal-mind doesn’t understand though. At one point she asks me to “say bye-bye to Daddy on the camera” and I say “Bye Camera!”.
6.) The first clip to feature my father, (more than halfway through the 80 minute DVD) he is putting together a child’s desk for me. I ask him who broke the desk (it’s laid out in many pieces on the floor). He patiently explains that it isn’t broken, just taken apart and he’s putting it back together. He shows me the instructions with pictures. I study it intently for a good 45 seconds. I cannot place this interaction emotionally in my brain. I don’t know how to feel. I feel like I should know how to feel.
7.) The second clip is my birthday. Dad is icing my cake. Not Mom, as I would have expected. It is another moment I don’t know how to feel. I don’t know how to connect this father on film with the one I know who seems so distant and anti-child.
8.) Though my father is not in the clip, there is a clip of me talking to him on the phone. I am very serious in my discussion (though I can barely understand what toddler-me is saying). I am upset when Mom tells me I have to say goodbye and hangup soon.
9.) I want to watch this again so I can catch more details and try to not be so switchy during the whole thing. But I can’t bring myself yet. Perhaps in another week or two.