Today I had a rare treat.
A few weeks ago my father and I handed in a few old video cassettes that has been lying around the last 20 years or so, for digitization. Today I got to see them for the first time.
Three short clips between 30 seconds and four minutes long. Three tiny little low-quality video clips of a very young me. Many might have hours of video from their childhood but these are the only videos from mine (my mother claims yet another is hidden away somewhere). Not coming from a particularly wealthy family meant that luxuries like video cameras were seldom possible.
All three videos takes place in what now is my apartment in Sweden. The very place that I am sitting and writing. A renovation and some new furniture and everything looks different, but I can stand in the same spot, walk through the same doors and look out the same windows seen on the screen. The two me connected in space but not in time.
Watching these few minutes strike me with such melancholic happiness. With a big smile on my lips I feel internal turmoil. I seemed so happy, carefree. A beautiful little girl who just like all children have their quirks and facial expressions. I recognized at least a few that I know I still do.
Sitting here writing I am still filled with wonder that this little girl, with her big brown eyes, braided hair and Dumbo ears is me. I can see it, clearly. True that bony cheekbones has emerged – shaping my face a bit more square than that early roundness, my eyes no long pop as much as they used to as the rest of my face seems to have caught up – something that was not extended to my ears which are still gorgeously enormous. Somehow now looking into the mirror I think I could have been so much prettier. A very sad thought – and I correct myself – a very wrong thought.
Yet I can see myself in this little girl. All my features are there. Perhaps the biggest exception is that I look more like my (young) dad rather than my mom which seems to be the general consensus these days.
Initially I was very sad that I did not have more videos of my childhood. It felt like I was invited to visit / experience / merge with a part of myself that I since long forgotten. An innocent part, a happy, carefree part. A girl I was not ready to let go of it yet. I do not know when it happened but life got so very complicated at some point.
The second thing that followed, when the acceptance that I will never be so carefree again sank in, is the sad sympathy that all kids today will probably never have that experience of unexpected nostalgia. More or less all kids today are on Youtube, Facebook, Instagram and I do not know what. Their videos will probably never strike them as a good luck charm from the past, like finding a four leaf clover or receiving a letter from a friend long forgotten.
Listening to my father talking to me from from behind the camera, I am reminded that my parents has seen me through all my stages in life. This familiar stranger I acknowledge as myself is not a stranger to them and I am filled with renewed respect for the saying that no one is adult in the eyes of their parents. Maybe it is this insight that evoke the really strange feeling that ends my experience. The feeling that I might have glimpsed into what possible children of mine might look like. A feeling that was not altogether unpleasant. It must be true what I often joke: I must be getting old.