I sit in my basement.
I watch the dust fall off of the director’s viewfinder that Pop gave me before he passed. I wipe the lens slowly, stopping every few seconds to suppress the inevitable tears that build up in my eyes while I think about the man who gave it to me.
I put the chain around my neck.
I bring the viewfinder to my eyes.
And my basement melts away.
The unfinished concrete walls are replaced by dimly lit white washed rooms. A painting hangs on one end and a TV is lighting up the room with an episode of Twenty Four. On the couch sits a man with a Jolly Rancher in his mouth and a girl, his granddaughter, sitting beside him. That man is my grandfather and that girl…is me.
I don’t dare take off my viewfinder as I watch the me of a couple months ago become the me I am today. She learns, thirsting for every word that comes from my grandfather’s mouth. He holds in his hand a black lens-like object on a chain, my viewfinder, and she stares at it in awe. He describes the secrets of film, secrets that I still hold in my memory, that wash up on the shores of my mind and create a downpour of tears on my face when they appear.
A single tear forms in my viewfinder and I pull it away from my eye. The couch, the TV, my grandfather, they’re all gone. I’m back in my basement. A light flickers overhead and I stare down at the viewfinder hanging from my neck. I know the suppressed memories it will bring to mind if I dare take another look into the viewfinder, but I ignore my own mind’s warnings and bring the object to my eye.
Everything goes black.
Fade into a new scene, and I see my mother, aunt and my cousin lying down in a bed together. The TV is playing Twenty Four in another room and the faint sounds of a sick mans snores can be heard over the dialogue. My mother cries alone on one side of the bed while my aunt and cousin embrace each other as they cry silently, afraid to wake up the snoring man in the next room. I spot my previous self staring out the window. She turns away from the window and stares directly at me. The piercing stare of a girl who just finished crying, the mirror image of myself looking back at me with red eyes and running makeup. A chill runs down my back and I put down the viewfinder.
My pulse is racing at high speeds and my eyes are watering.
I bring the view finder back to my eye.
Coral Gables, Miami.
It’s the last day of summer. My cousin has her face in her hands, tears fall and underneath her face contorts with the pain that only the passing of a loved one can induce. My previous self is talking to my grandpa’s brother. Unable to bear the pain. Unable to grasp the reality of what is actually happening. Unable to look into the hole where he is kept.
Friends sit in rows of forest-green chairs, hold each other’s hands and hold each other in the only way they know how to alleviate the pain.
Black limos line the streets and palm trees sway in the Florida breeze. A rabbi says a prayer, a friend picks up a shovel, a young boy weeps from his seat, and I remove the viewfinder.