"If only," I thought to myself. The more I reflected on my desire to return, though, the more I realized that the happy life depicted through the video camera lens was more construct than reality. Back in March, 1999, when Skylar was five months old, I was absolutely miserable. Kim was back at work far sooner than she wanted to be. Communications between the two of us had devolved largely into technical questions about child-rearing, brightened only by the occasional moment of shared wonder at our beautiful daughter. I had lost all traction in my progress towards completing my dissertation. And I was spending so much time alone with Skylar at 617 Napa Street that I'd developed strange habits like experimenting with dozens of different recipes for poached eggs. Had it not been for the free tickets Kim got me to Cal games at the skybox in the Oakland Arena, I might have gone completely insane.
Yet when I look at the video now, taking in my perspective on the world, listening to myself talk with and through the camera, all I see at first is a golden age of delight. The footage lies, in other words. But it also manages to reveal a deeper truth that was lurking under all my superficial unhappiness, a love that ended up surviving the stranglehold of everyday stress. I'm hoping that all the pictures I've taken since getting the digital camera last year will turn out to have done the same thing. Right now, though, they are still too close for me to tell.