I’m hoarding my feelings again. I was going to tell you that I haven’t been able to write because I have nothing to say but of course that’s not true at all. I’ve had no trouble pouring myself into lengthy Instagram stories that have nothing to do with how I feel about mass shootings or immigration or abortion rights or anything else.
At any moment a 1-800-GOT-JUNK dumpster could be dropped off out front and a life coach will show up and I’ll be forced to choose which feelings no longer serve a purpose in my tattered brain house of overflowing emotion. But until then I’ll go on scouring the internet for more trash headlines and secondhand clickbait to cart home and stuff into the cracked plastic storage bins I keep pushing under my virtual bed even though the mattress has a slight bend to it and the closet door refuses to shut.
I’ve been digging through old iPhone notes to see if I have anything valuable to share with you, but these are just filled with drafts of tweets that have already taken on water and begun to mildew, as well as the three-line conversations that make up my marriage:
“Where’s my little thing?”
“It’s in the thing.”
Last week Flickr sent me a thoughtful note to let me know that it would be deleting around 2,000 of my old photos if I did not immediately login and sign up for a paid account. While I may not have an urgent use for every photo of every college party I ever attended or screenshots of Gchat conversations that have lost their meaning over time, my initial reaction was moaning “miiiiiiiiine” at my inbox and beginning an hours-long process of downloading zip file after zip file of suddenly precious memories.
So my iCloud is heavy with screenshots. There are boxes of old notebooks and hard drives filled with scanned pages of even older notebooks slowly aging in my actual, physical attic.
Yesterday while eating breakfast Frida held up a gummed-on hunk of toast and offered it to the Google Home Hub that we’ve invited into our kitchen to spy on us in the name of convenience. I share this not to marvel at her eagerness to befriend the robots that I talk to all day, but to wonder what digital scraps she’ll wind up dragging along with her into the future. I pretend that upon my death she’ll be tasked with donating my papers to my alma mater. “She had such fond memories of this place,” she’ll say, cracked storage bins all around, pleading with the alumnae association. “Where else could her AIM transcripts and aged dick pics live on for future generations?”
In a few days, my family will wake at three in the morning and fly off to New England for a month. In a desperate attempt to explain air travel to my fifteen-month-old, I turned to YouTube, where there is a surprisingly large library of videos illustrating everyday experiences. A ten-minute tour of a city bus came in handy before our first big trip across town on public transit, for example. This time around, a man named Blippy, who happens to have 4.3 million subscribers, took us on a tour of a private jet. While it’s my general practice to under promise and over deliver, it seemed like a solid, if aspirational, place to start. And it beat my original explanation that we were soon going to “fly in the sky like a bird to see grandmas.”
All of this is to say that I’ve just been over here accumulating things, both physical and digital, in hopes to stave off real and imagined disaster. Baby food pouches and sunscreen. Twenty photos of Frida holding a balloon or a video of the mostly neglected dog performing her only trick.
I’ll be back soon. I’m taking notes.