March 18. 2015
I’m starting to look at my VHS tapes. You’d think I could just take a quick inventory and let go of anything I could rent on iTunes or buy on Amazon. But it’s not that simple. Many of these tapes in my first pile were gifts. And something I’ve learned is that a bit of the giver attaches to a gift – meaning the tapes still carry a bit of the one who gave them to me: my mother.
Taping movies was a shared habit I had with my mother back when VCRs were new. I remember singing a concert with the Riverside Church Choir back in the 70s. It was broadcast on television and my mom and dad wanted to record it but they didn’t have a VCR – they borrowed one and I still have that tape, even though I have only watched it once. So there it is – my tape that I have had since the 70s that I have barely watched. I can’t toss it, nobody wants it, my mother gave it to me as a gift, and I will keep it, of course.
Then, there are the Garbo films she taped for me and the MGM musicals. These little films were made with love and her handwriting still identifies them. I have dozens of these tapes and I haven’t seen one of them in at least 20 years. I would say, at first glance, all of these films are available online. But do I let them go?
I want the shelf space – to be able to see wall and empty instead of shelf and stuff. But this one’s tough. I think what I will do is to put together a kind of time capsule with the most obscure or significant tapes and then let the other ones go. In my right mind, I cannot justify storing videotapes from an extinct format simply because my mother’s handwriting is on their spines. In so many ways, I have to let her go too.