Electronic Archives

So I finally made the decision to turn over one of my laptops to my brother. I bought it back in 2012 and it has been my road dog, my photo center, my writing station, my baby for about as long. There are memories both good and bad affiliated with that machine.

But here’s the thing: it’s a 10-lb 17″ behemoth that my back, with its busted lumbar, cannot handle anymore, and it’s five years old.

It’s worth next to nothing, if you don’t count the sentimental attachment, but I don’t count it too much. Bottom line is, I can travel with my big baby’s 15″ slimmer, lighter sister just as easily.

But before I turned it over, I had to purge five years of living on that machine off it.

Lord, what have I discovered.

Do you know what five years of “Let me bookmark this, I’ll look at it later” looks like? Especially when you lack the time to ever look at it again? Memories are a funny thing. From one old-time journal entry to an old Buzzfeed list with recipes for snacks in a cup (I’ll gladly try the quiche one tomorrow, because breakfast), to an ancient Livejournal post on sick systems (googleable, and very good reading still), it’s all the things you never think about and all the things you wonder what you buried.

It’s not knowing that your music collection was backed up and re-backed up, so you have thousands and thousands of the same files and have to delete it a hundred times over.

It’s remembering that this was the computer where you stashed the screencaps you were looking for a year ago.

It’s remembering twenty more copies of photos that you know you already have, and among them being a gallery that you once had a small stroke because a corrupted file transfer made you think you lost it all.

It’s more data than I can think of readily, but it’s certainly data that I knew I wanted to keep, in part, and delete in a larger part.

Here’s the thing: for all the memories that have amassed on this hard drive – which is still getting its wipe cycle done, because CCleaner’s feature for wiping free space takes a small eternity), cleaning it felt damned great, not just because I get to consolidate and keep some stuff I thought was lost, but I get to get rid of a lot of shit that served as a reminder of things gone by.

I think it’s painfully obvious that I’m a sentimental person. And I will not lie, I am. I am the girl who kept concert ticket stubs from shows I’ve attended six years ago. I keep every boarding pass from every cruise I take. But when something difficult is finally at an end, I will dispose of everything that reminds me of that time, or of that person.

When I graduated high school, I shredded every diary I kept through that time. I kept a diary from when I was 14 forward, sometimes electronically, and often on paper. What I put on the blog is only what I like to share with other people, but my innermost thoughts were on paper. After HS was over, those thoughts were a living reminder, every day, of that period. I couldn’t handle having them. So… into the shredder they went.

These days, I don’t dispose of things so easily,

I can’t dispose of the painting that’s gracing my wall, even though I had a falling-out with the artist behind it. I don’t put thought into patching that fallout, but the painting was something I commissioned and received in much happier times. If the artist and I ever speak again, great, but it’s not a thought that comes to me when I look at the metal-print that hangs between my windows.

There’s another computer that I’ll probably be disposing of, an ancient Netbook, on account that it doesn’t run much, or well. But dispose of it – not likely. It is a reminder of the great times traveling with it. Austin, TX, Newport Beach, CA, DC, 2 CapJazz cruises… I’ve written one of my books on it. But unfortunately, it’s simply not a usable computer anymore. Battery has long died, and Windows Vista is not a usable system.

How many years pass by on these computers, and how many things do we remember when we have to consolidate and/or dispose of a them? How many moments do the bookmarks dredge up?

For the older folk who keep their memories to photo albums, keep mind of this: the Internet is indeed forever.