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The videotape - Sing With Me If It's Just For Today...
If I should fall behind, Guyster, wait for me.
guysterrules
guysterrules
The videotape
It’s been well over two years since I watched the tape; it was right before I moved to DC when I knelt on the floor in front of the TV, wailing and touching the screen to get just a little closer to the walking and talking Billy I’d captured on the video camera he gave me for our last Christmas. I had the camera for twenty-seven days before I lost him, and much to his reluctance and camera-shyness, I used that time to roll a lot of tape.

It’s been plaguing me these past few years, that tape. When I watched it last, I went into a several day tailspin of tribulation. And I wasn’t even watching the raw stock, but rather the edit that Mickey had made in the mad rush before the funeral because I wanted to give everyone something to take home. When Mickey cautiously suggested that I not look at the original tape because on it, Billy said he felt like he was having a heart attack, I heeded her warning and built that scene in my mind with all of the heartbreak, guilt, and regret that I could have never imagined possible.

I watched the edited tape on Friday, our anniversary, and sure I cried, but I saw something magnificent; Billy and I were happy and playful and loving and I told him over and over how handsome he was. After almost nine and a half years, we'd built an amazing rhythm, one that survived and had grown stronger.

It’s been over two years since I saw him move and talk and laugh. On the tape there were a few important games we played; Small Mouth being the most important, and I don’t even know how to describe it other than to say it maximized his rubbery facial expressions.

But I really needed to see the raw tape. I called Mickey, and while she walked me through how to transfer the High-8 to DV, I asked her about that scene.

“What does he say?”

“Oh, uh, I think he says he’s having a heart attack.”

“What was my response?” My question caught in my throat.

“I dunno. I can’t remember.”

I hung up, rigged the two cameras together, and started to dub. I watched the tiny Sony screen out of the corner of my eye, and when the tape ran close to the end, I crouched down to watch and listen.


Bob is lying on the end of the couch and Billy has a pillow hiding his face from my invasive camera lens.

“Leave me alone!” The pillow muffled his giggles.

“Come on, Guyster.” I pan down his sweatshirt and jeans to his slippered feet that nestled into Bob’s middle.

“Stop it! I’m having a heart attack!” He took the pillow away for a second, all smiles, then slammed the pillow back onto his face.

“Mr. Pillow Face. Say hi to the camera.”

“I’m having a heart attack!” There was no gravity in his voice.

“Mr. Pillow Face cuddling with his boy.” I mumbled and the camera went back down to Bob and Billy’s feet.

“Get out of here, you dummy! I said I’m having a heart attack!” The camera spins around toward the TV, and the tape stops.

There was no more footage shot on that tape. Two days later, it happened.

Does this let me off the hook? A little. There were several other times in that preceding week where frivolity wasn’t in his voice. There are indelible snapshots that frequently crawl to my mind when his face was serious, when he put his hand to his heart in a pained reflex.

I’m not afraid of it anymore, though. It’s not as bad as I thought it might’ve been, and if nothing else, it shows more of why I love him so much. He was playful, too playful at times, much too playful when urgency was needed.

I’ll watch the tape more often now, Mickey’s version, because seeing him and hearing him made me feel alive again. And some day I may be watching it from an enormous circular bed on a large screen and the strains of Dream Weaver will well up on my soundtrack.

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Comments
backawayslowly From: backawayslowly Date: November 28th, 2005 01:39 am (UTC) (Link)
I've thought about that tape often since you first wrote about it here way back when... I'm so glad you finally watched it. I'm so glad you'll be watching it again.
guysterrules From: guysterrules Date: November 29th, 2005 04:10 am (UTC) (Link)
Gosh, we've been together a long time, bud.
From: minnesattva Date: November 28th, 2005 04:11 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm glad to hear the videotape-watching went well for you.

And now I realize why you're leaving comments on my journal that sound like you know what I'm talking about...or, rather, what I'm thinking and doing but not talking about.
guysterrules From: guysterrules Date: November 29th, 2005 03:43 am (UTC) (Link)
If you ever do feel like talking, and just have someone listen, please call me. It can really help just to talk. Grief demands an audience.
edenic From: edenic Date: November 28th, 2005 05:30 am (UTC) (Link)
I never knew him, but reading this, and everything you write about him, makes me miss him.
guysterrules From: guysterrules Date: November 29th, 2005 03:44 am (UTC) (Link)
That's the best thing you could've said to me.

Thank you.
creactivity From: creactivity Date: November 28th, 2005 07:07 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm glad you watched it and that it was what it was. Regret has no place in the fondness of your memories and I hope some day you really really know that.

That song is what I listened to as a comforting thing when my aunt was dying of cancer.
guysterrules From: guysterrules Date: November 29th, 2005 03:45 am (UTC) (Link)
I keep seeing that scene of Woody Harrelson as Larry Flynt in his bed watching her video over and over, and the song comes up and fades to black.
creactivity From: creactivity Date: November 29th, 2005 03:49 am (UTC) (Link)
OMG...that's right.

I had the same memory of my aunt when I saw that scene and I couldn't even attach it to watching a video.
quuf From: quuf Date: November 28th, 2005 07:13 am (UTC) (Link)
I began reading with trepidation and finished with a sense of surprised relief. May you continue to feel alive again, Terry.
(Deleted comment)
guysterrules From: guysterrules Date: November 29th, 2005 03:48 am (UTC) (Link)
I'd love to send you a copy of the tape sometime, the edited version. I also want to make a video, and I'm going to be calling you about editing soon.
notoriousbrb From: notoriousbrb Date: November 29th, 2005 03:37 am (UTC) (Link)
So...?
guysterrules From: guysterrules Date: November 29th, 2005 03:50 am (UTC) (Link)
What? Wedding? Really? When? P-mail me.
notoriousbrb From: notoriousbrb Date: November 29th, 2005 03:39 am (UTC) (Link)
By the way, heard a song. The energy made me think of you.

The Postal Service
The District Sleeps Alone Tonight
guysterrules From: guysterrules Date: November 29th, 2005 04:09 am (UTC) (Link)
I was the one worth leaving.
ubermunkey From: ubermunkey Date: November 29th, 2005 05:06 am (UTC) (Link)
no words bub
only the mumbling of peace and love
m
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n
k
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y
poodler From: poodler Date: January 13th, 2006 12:58 am (UTC) (Link)

Gosh

That was very sweet.
guysterrules From: guysterrules Date: January 13th, 2006 04:56 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Gosh

Thank you kindly for reading it. I added you as a friend. I took a quick look (I'll read more later) and saw you like Rufus and Bruce. That makes you okay in my book.
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