My aunt and uncle recently took on the formidable project of transferring hours of home movies onto two DVDs in some “best of” snippets from almost twenty years of footage. My aunt sent me the discs recently with a card that had the following warning:
Advisory: Proceed With Caution.
What you are about to see may be hazardous to your mental state of well-being.
That’s what can happen in divorce (especially ugly divorce)- a “family” member goes from beloved to hazardous cargo. And my ex was family and is included in many of the latter video clips. This would be the first video I would see of him since before he left, as all of my video and most of my pictures are safely boxed up in my mom’s garage (safely unless they’ve become a rat nest, which would somehow be fitting…).
Surprisingly, I was neither anxious to watch them or anxious about watching them. I finally had a few moments today and put in the second disk, which starts shortly before I began high school. It was funny watching them and seeing how I changed over the years, my I-was-afraid-they-were-permanent chubby cheeks finally slimming out when I entered my 20s. My ease with my baby cousin even as I knew I never wanted a kid of my own. And my introverted attempt to meet “cute boys” at the lake by swimming out to a raft in my aqua bikini.
It was cool to see my mom at an age I now relate to. And to watch my grandmother when she could still enjoy the freedom of swimming in the lake. I saw my now-married cousin with missing baby teeth. And watched her now-adult sister grow from newborn to preschooler.
And it was even neat to watch my ex. From the awkward gangliness he carried until almost 22 to the young man tired from his 10 hour shift at an amusement park. I watched him with our pug and smiled at the memories of bringing our first dog home. In one scene I saw him look at me with love. I remember those looks.
I realized something today, watching those home movies. In a very real way, all of us on those digital recordings are gone. The kids have grown, even the youngest through college and many have kids of their own. The adult generation is trending towards retirement. And grandma can’t swim in the lake anymore.
We have all changed with time and with experiences. The camera caught who we were in the moment but it does not always reflect who we are now.
The husband I see on those videos would be lost to me now no matter what. That boy really, not even a man yet in many of the clips, was lost in time. And that would be true even if he was sitting on the sofa downstairs.
Far from being hazardous, the videos were sweet. A glimpse of a more innocent past and a remembrance of a good beginning.
And yet another reminder of the constant presence of change.
We may as well get used to it:)