The Things We Hold On To

So, I’m in the process of moving. I allotted myself quite a bit of time to this process knowing that it meant that I was scaling back entirely. Getting rid of books, contemplating what to do about old journals, and now, finally trying to figure out what to do with the things in storage that have been sitting there for years. Including these old VHS tapes.

As you can tell from the browning labels, these tapes are old. I don’t even have the technology to watch them anymore. Still, something in my mind throbbed. I worried that some long ago forgotten memory was captured on one of these tapes. I had vague memories of filming videos of college fun. I had an idea that there was something of value hidden somewhere. A nagging sense that I shouldn’t just throw these videos away.

And so, I went to the data studio at my university and went through them–one by one. And it all came back to me. These VHS tapes weren’t special. In fact they were extraordinarily common. That’s why I held on to them. In the off chance that I would need one to tape my favorite program which included a lot of In Living Color, Martin and the odd episode of The Simpson. Some tapes held my favorite old movies (still love Heathers!) and I remembered how we used these tapes. This was our rainy Saturday version of Netflix and chill. This was the original cable-box based DVR. These tapes weren’t special. Anymore. But once, they ┬áreally were. I did come across one video that included a video of college. Oddly, it wasn’t my experience but a random video created by a long-lost friend who shared what I assume was his senior thesis with me. I thought for a moment about contacting him. Digitizing it and sending it to him via facebook or something. But then I realized the memories weren’t mine and that I couldn’t take responsibility for someone else’s memory. Into the garbage they went.

I did come across a few videos that were personal. Poorly taped images of an old friend and I on a trip to Florida with her Dad. There were a lot of videos of birds and ducks and random shots of us walking along the beach. It made me laugh–us in our over sized 90s gear–but ultimately I decided not to keep the footage. It wasn’t about me. The friend and I have long since lost touch and I can’t say that my life has been empty since the loss of this footage. It made me smile but made me uncomfortable. Don’t know why I would watch this again. We were uncomfortable being taped by her dad and it shows in our awkwardness and sullenness in the video.

There was video footage that I did keep. Videos of my dorm in college. Watching the video took me right back there. There was also video footage of my niece as a baby. She’s now 25. These videos I kept because I will watch them again (and have already) and they made me feel happy. In the words of Marie Kondo, they sparked joy.


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