On the rare occasion that we rent a movie at home to watch, it must pass Danith’s litmus test. The movie can be no more than five years old. A film decorated with Oscars or was expensively budgeted or was spearheaded by a respected director does not impress or intrigue him enough even for consideration. His first question to me would be, “What year was it made in?” His sentiment for television shows is no different.
I, on the hand, have viewed most episodes of The Little House On The Prairie about five times. I am one of the few 40-year-olds who knows what show Jack, Janet, and Chrissy are characters in. I can sing the theme song for The Golden Girls. Even my favorite book, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, takes place many decades ago.
On some nights in the past few months, I have donned my white terry cloth bathrobe, bundled up Daffy’s and Kiri’s blankets from the hospital, and crept down the stairs to the family room. Being winter, it has been especially quiet at 1:00 AM. Around me the still night and the quietness together would be thick like steel walls.
I make my bed on the sofa, clutch the babies’ blankets to my chest, and turn on the television, not knowing what options will be available. Maybe it was a month ago that Hart to Hart appeared. Last week Benson surfaced — I remember watching that show with my father in the evenings. Tonight, it is Welcome Back, Kotter. I don’t know this sitcom, but I have heard of it. I wasn’t aware until now that Kotter is a high school teacher. In tonight’s episode his wife is in the OR giving birth.
I am not exactly sure why I am partial to these old shows from my childhood. They conjure up memories I enjoy revisiting, but it isn’t as though I want to relive my childhood years. I think the shows, at the time, allowed me the opportunity to see what was out there, what was possible outside of my life. I have to admit that I learned some important lessons from watching TV: need for honesty, need for respect and comedy in a marital relationship, need for belief in self.
Many great thinkers encourage us to set our eyes on the future. I believe there is a phrase about not looking at the rearview window of life? Such phrases and maxims make sense, but I still find myself holding onto the past. I hold onto it like I am holding onto Daffy’s and Kiri’s blankets. The blankets are bundled in layers: two handkerchief-sized ones as the core, followed by a pastel-color crocheted one, and then a flannel one with cartoon dogs and cats as the exterior layer. I distinctly remember the night I held Daffy in her blanket, feeling the surge of a mother’s love. And I remember the Thursday afternoon I held Kiri in his, whimpering into it, and him, with sorrow and guilt, another form of a mother’s love.
I certainly look forward to bringing home our baby girl in March, and I understand the importance of focusing on our future with her. I have seen shows depicting this lesson. I have read about it. Most importantly, though, I myself instinctively know it. But I think there will always be a quiet night when I go back to revisit those moments at the hospital. I will drive into the future, but I can’t completely take my eyes off from my past.