Wednesday, January 2, 2013

in which i critique New Year's Eve roast beef

There’s this home video my family has that I think pretty much sums up who I am in twenty seconds. I’m roughly nine years old and have the beginnings of a unibrow. Of course, I’m completely oblivious to said unibrow and blissfully happy with my terrible middle-part and frizzy hair, Winnie-the-Pooh overalls and velvet pink turtleneck. It always pains me just a little bit to watch myself on the video—have you seen little girls these days? It’s like every mom is trying to show just how fashionable they can be and dress their kids like they just stepped out of an Anthropologie ad, ready to be instagrammed with their iPhones at any given candid moment. Which is awesome. I have nothing against iPhones and Anthropologie and trendy moms. I’m just saying it really amplifies the embarrassment of my own childhood.

Anyway, in this home video it’s our family’s Christmas celebration on New Year’s Eve. We’re at my aunt and uncle’s house with cousins and my grandmom and grandpop, and as if watching my unibrowed-chubby-overalls wearing self wasn’t weird enough my two little golden-haired sisters look absolutely adorable. They are each about two feet shorter than me and petite and just more pleasant to look at. I’m the overweight one with the deep voice, smiling and waving at the camera every five seconds.
It may sound like I’m bitterly reflecting over my nine year old self, but that’s not true. I love my little self and after the initial “Ughhh, mom, WHY did you let me wear that and look like that and obviously you should have just controlled everything I ate only so I could resent you later in life instead of letting me be a free little nine year old!!!” I smile fondly at myself. It’s like looking back at an old friend, one that is close to my heart but also who I don’t really want to see everyday.
The part that really made my family and I burst out laughing when we watched it many years later was my commentary on the roast beef. It’s great, it really is. Here we are all seated at the dinner table and my aunt, who is recording the entire spectacle, is telling us to wave “Hi!” and say “Happy New Year’s!” Of course I’m the only one who actually obeys and over-eagerly brandishes my hand in front of the camera, so much so that my aunt has to step back a little.
“Happy New Year’s!” I yell, and finally my sisters do the same. And then I look at the camera, all wide-eyed and excited and I’m NINE FREAKING YEARS OLD and I say “Great roast beef, great!” And just keep walking, probably to the kitchen and probably to the roast beef.
See. There it is. The entirety of who I am summed up in seconds of my nine year old self. I’m critiquing the food and I’m nine.
We all laughed when we watched this, and I know my mother and sisters look at it with love but later, after we watched it and I went back to doing whatever it was I was doing (most definitely not eating roast beef) I felt like crying. And raising my fists to the Heavens and shouting, “Why me God?! Oh why do you plague me with the curse of harboring a unibrow at the tender age of nine, and these cursed chubby cheeks and unruly brown curls? Why did you make me like this?!”
It’s stupid, I know, to feel these things. And after I sat there, stewing in my hatred for not being a delicate little girl, I realized that more than the feelings of annoyance and bitterness toward this past self, I felt a deep and honest love. It’s the kind of love that is reserved for my sisters. I love my sisters more than I thought it was possible to love another human being and while, yes, they get on my nerves and we fight and argue and sometimes I just want to yell at them (Sorry Rebecca and Christina, you know it’s true) I love them so much. It’s a constant, a deep, concrete verb that is so much more than a feeling.
And as I looked at myself on screen, I saw a child of the Creator of the Universe. It wasn’t that I felt all this love towards me. It’s that I felt a surge of love for God.
Because we live in a day and age where we're always taught to look and feel and act a certain way. That if we aren't a size two we aren't beautiful. That if we aren't married by the time we're thirty and if we don't have these beliefs or drive that car we suck. I'm so sick of the world and people telling me I suck when God tells me everyday He loves me. I want to hear His voice above all the rest.
And I guess, really, I just want to get back to the root of who I am. Back to that chubby little girl who just loved her New Year's Eve roast beef.

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