Ah, Sundays! Crazy Sundays. Growing up, my mom would have me perform skits, dances, story-telling and musicals. She loved “crazy Sundays.” Having me perform brought her such joy. We would laugh for hours. It was where I first learned to crack myself up and laugh at myself.
I grew up with very little material goods but had much mirth. I loved those times with my mom. I look back and wish I had a concrete memory of one of those performances. What I have instead are fuzzy memories of me doing some weird Madonna imitation.
My mom would record those performances and play them back every so often. They entertained her. In particular, she played them back when I went off to boarding school to never again live with my mom. I was not there with her in a daily presence but she had my voice. She would play it back and note how young I sounded. To this day, my voice sounds rather young on the telephone. I haven’t developed a voice deep with gravitas. Instead it is a voice that gets angry and can be demanding, but is also youthful and full of optimism.
I lost those tapes when my mother died. I ached deeply at their loss. If only I could have one where I could hear us laughing together at the ridiculous skit I had performed. We never owned a video recorder. Although very cheap ones were sold on street corners in Manhattan. But even the very cheap ones were too expensive for us. What we had were those audio cassette records that you can see now in an old school film noir movie. It seems to me that they always should have come with a side ashtray to fit the femme fatale look.
In graduate school and since then, I have been video recorded giving presentations, trainings and lectures. I am a great speaker and presenter. I’m funny and can engage in self-deprecating humor that puts others at ease. Although, I never go too far in that because there is a line at which it becomes uncomfortable. You know. You have seen those that are so self-deprecating that you just sit and wonder “then why are you even here?’ Life is always a tightrope, of sorts.
Although, I am often video recorded, I cannot stand watching myself. I just can’t. I see a strand out of place that I want to comb back. I see a rip, or an un-buffed shoe. Plus, growing up having heard my voice played back to me so often the act of viewing myself is extremely foreign and unnatural. I am not one of those women that avoid looking at themselves in the mirrors or looks too often in her reflection. I have a healthy sense of self-awareness.
It is just that my sense of nostalgia runs deep to hear my recorded voice. There is something about a disembodied voice that echoes in one’s ear and heart. I think of my mom listening to me laugh and getting misty-eyed. My voice was enough to comfort her. My image probably would have torn her apart. Plus, she probably would have said “you need to eat more. You use a lot of hand movements….”. Sometimes the image takes away from the experience of understanding oneself while the voice brings us closer to our true selves and nature.
I do long for those Sundays where my mom would hit “play” and we would laugh together.