"Life is too precious to be spent in this weaving and unweaving of false impressions, and it is better to live quietly under some degree of misrepresentation than to attempt to remove it by the uncertain process of letter-writing.”--George Eliot**Pen Name for Mary Anne Evans
I initially wanted to write an ODE to my Little Brother for this blog post. He left this morning in the wee hours and into the chill of the San Diego morning air with my sister-in-law, after a 3 week visit from Guam. I do miss them and we all agreed that their vacation was too short. I am glad we shared Comic Con memories, food adventures and quality time chatting. Last night, I took them to our go to spot for when family or friends want a cool place to eat when visiting my “village” San Diego.
We later opted to relax at home and the duo spent time with my kids. I had them write messages in the children’s journals (read the post here) and then I broke out old family home videos.
Zoom Video Productions
My late father purchased a home video camera in 1989, when they weren’t a common part of regular households. He had a dream of being a videographer before there was really a niche for that on Guam. After several family gigs done without pay, he turned the lens on the family. The camera was big, bulky, the type you put a huge VHS tape into.
We used to roll our eyes when our dad brought it to every school function—volleyball games, awards ceremonies and Tae Kwon Do events. Now, we realize they are irreplaceable gems of our family’s history. My dad was always documenting, preparing for a future maybe he was unconscious of. A future he might not be a part of, and even though he died in 2007 at 55 years old, he’s still ever-present and a very strong force in my life, my brother’s and his grandchildren's.
My brother and I agreed, that in retrospect, dad’s investment was wise, because last night we watched Christmas gift opening from when we were teenagers. We looked at the date on the bottom of the TV screen and realized that the footage was from 22 years ago. 22! (We had a ‘damn we are old moment together’). The earliest footage of my brother was of when he was 12 and I was 16. And as we hammed it up for the camera, or said cheesy lines as a family, “Merry Christmas 1990!”—we laughed at our former selves, thinner and with dated hair and clothes, but we both appreciated the efforts of our father. My brother and I were energized by watching, learning and reflecting on our past. We watched these movies until 3:30 AM, only stopping because they needed to get to the airport.
The reason I entitled this post, ‘Enlarged to Show Texture’ is that I’ve always felt that people package themselves like a product. Some consciously, others not and others who don’t care about outside opinions. Celebrities do it all the time. After my adventures and celebrity sightings at Comic Con, friends wanted to know many things of the stars I saw: “Is he short?” “Does she look like she does in the movie?” “Did you touch him?” etc. I would point out stars in the crowd or trying to be incognito on the floor to my brother and sister-in-law and their initial reactions were typically, “Really?” or “Wow, he looks so old.” “She’s so tiny!” etc.
When we watch a movie, celebrities are packaged for that role. We see them larger than life through a lens. When we are mere inches or feet from them in the flesh, we see their flaws, their wrinkles, we smell them, we feel that they are warm blooded beings. They’re human. And we can be disappointed by this, or comforted by their sameness.
I’ve gone on a tangent, but I’m trying to tie a nice little bow on this package. I think about people in my life, those who present themselves (or package themselves) without ENLARGING TO SHOW TEXTURE and those who do. I both hate and like such people.
I realize with my brother’s visit that time moves at the speed of light. Or as my son says, "Did you know Flash can travel across the city in 35 seconds!?"
We watched ourselves as children and now we are adults, me having children of my own and our minds were blown. We realized as watching footage of a barbecue at my former Mangilao home, that four of the seven relatives lined up to bless the table were now dead. We looked at our old Tae Kwon Do gym with fondness and eyes of adults, pointing out old classmates and updating their whereabouts if we knew. I was glad to be a part of that history, knowing and saddened that the gym had been demolished, a vacant lot by the beach in East Hagatna.
I love and care for the people who count in my life. And, in the end, this is indeed an ode to my baby brother. I will miss him. I’ve known him all his life. And, as I move forward with my family, I still cast a net to my past. To maintain a tie to Guam, to remember my roots. My brother reminds me everyday of my origin story. I want to be better for him. So, when my seven year old cried when we dropped them off at the airport 12 hours ago, it’s because he too has cast this net to family and Guam.