This weekend I took my friend B out to Long Island with me to visit my family and remember what fresh air smells like. Ok...that and to also hit the outlet malls where Mom waited in the car for us while we ran in and out of stores like teenagers and even shopped in stores MADE for teenagers such as 'Delia's' where the only sizes that fit us was XXXL.
It was so nice to get out of the city and while I've missed E being gone in Mexico for 9 days I've selfishly enjoyed much needed time with my girlfriends. Each night he has been gone I've made a plan to visit with various important women in my life that I never get to see enough. The amazing thing is I still have more on the list I couldn't get to in time but luckily they aren't going anywhere for the moment and I look forward to our reunions.
The weekend was funny and relaxing and great. The first night we arrived, we enjoyed a dinner with Mom and Dad and then soon everyone clustered around the TV in the living room with pjs on and a glass of wine in hand. Out of boredorm - ok B made me - we popped in a VHS tape from my high school years which was the 'making of' of a 'music video' I made for a class assignment featuring me, my high school boyfriend and his twin sister my best friend at the time.
It was painful to watch. Partially because it was completely and totally lame on several levels and partially because throughout the entire thing Mom, Dad and B screamed STOP FAST FORWARDING!!!!!!! every five minutes despite the fact the entire first part of the tape was only 'b-roll' or extra footage such as - me zooming in on a fire hydrant (ZZZ), me going from a zoom to wide shot of a dark alley (ZZZ), me filming a neighbor and his daughter (now 18) standing in their garden (ZZZ) and literally a shot of me filling my parent's bathroom tub up with water and then draining it out again. At that point, silence in the room, the image of water slowly dribbling down the bathtub drain my father finally said, "Ok you can fast forward now."
What seemed like 7 hours later, the actual 'music video' came on. I don't know if it is because I work in TV or what but it was the biggest piece of crap I've ever seen. The editing was horrible. In fact, there was no editing at all. But boy - was it deep.
The video finally ended. There were a few trailing off laughs as the screen went to black and white fuzz. Silence again and then, "What else do we have?" said Dad. After some rummaging through the living room cabinet and some assurance from B she was actually enjoying this, I came up with a number of VHS tapes all of which we assumed to be powerfully important documented moments of our lives such as perhaps the birth of my sister or my 16th birthday party. Thanks to my mother's maticulous labeling system it was anyone's guess: 'Family Tape', 'Family Tape II' and 'Family Tape, etc."
The first tape "Family Tape" contained an entire small town parade. The entire parade. Fire engines, waving officals and finally two seconds of me speedwalking past my mother while dressed in a horrible purple and gold band uniform with my hand to the camera. The second tape "Family Tape II" featured my sister (we think) at a young age - from behind - squatting in the grass with her back to us. She was at a sing-a-long at the public library hosted by a thirty-something couple dressed in bee uniforms with acoustic guitars singing lyrics like, "WE ARE A BEE FAM-A-LEE! WE ARE ANN-IE AND BOB-BY!" At that point we all hoped tape three "Family Tape, etc." would be more promising. It was.
"Family Tape, etc." actually contained fantastic footage such as my grandfather that recently passed away, my cousins and I riding our bikes with pimples and braces, lobster races on the back porch, a birthday party, sparklers being lit on the fourth of July, etc. This footage threw Dad for a loop. He spent the entire time yelling out things like, "Who is that guy?" and "Who's baby is that?" to which my mother and I screamed back 'THAT GUY IS YOUR FATHER!' and 'THAT BABY IS YOUR OTHER DAUGHTER DAD'.
Sadly or perhaps not - the "Family Tape, etc." tape came to an abrupt end. Programming was interrupted by a marathon taping of back to back episodes of the 80's TV sitcom 'Family Ties'. Since my sister was not around to defend herself we blamed her and Mom and Dad soon headed to bed. After our fourth episode in a row and who knows how many glasses of wine later, B and I turned to one another and said, "Perhaps we best call it a night."
It did get me thinking however about the power of editing - or not. How we choose to document those things in life that at that time seem most important to us. The TV minded Writer/Producer in me wanted to collect these family tapes, combine all the footage keeping only the most crucial shots and maybe even throw in a song or two to set the mood. But really what qualified as 'most important' in the way of childhood memories?
As the train pulled out of our small town station today, coincidentally I spotted one of our local fireman featured in last night's parade video. He was waving this time not to my mother's camera but rather to someone on the train from his position on the station's platform. I studied his face. Twice now in 48 hours. Someone I hadn't thought about in years.