To My Pre-Internet Ex Who Died

Once in a while I forget you’re dead and I wonder how you turned out, as if you lived somewhere else and we drifted apart or lost touch. Maybe you started a family or left an old job, bought a house or sold a used car. I forget that I am about a decade older now than the age you were allowed to live, before you died on a year that seemed so long ago, before “@” was “at” and dial-up modems made robotic sounds of another world waiting. I think about how you said we should update our bank records in case our measly balances would be obliterated by Y2K, how we wrote poems in one of two fonts on a dot matrix printer at a time when Wordstar was still king and Spell Check involved red pens.

Sometimes I wake from this dreamy presumption and decide to drop you a line but I’m faced with the dilemma of where to write. You only had your grandmother’s address at a house you didn’t even like, where mail arrived according to the temper of the mailman or the flood status of city streets, if luxury and urgency dictated a speedier courier. Sentiments of affection or resentment took at least three days, enough time for moods to change and minds to forget whatever it was that had us worried. We’d stack letters and organize a neat file that kept us company on many young days apart when we seemed pulled by the many odd callings forward.

I didn’t know the world was going to get so small that a word could be sent to another hemisphere in a second. I had no clue that it would spin so fast that I could take a picture and post it on a cloud for everyone to see. When I think about you I wonder if “LOL” would annoy you as much as it annoys me, if you would have a blog and if you’d think Twitter was a breakthrough in communication or a medium for self-indulgence.

Most of all I’m curious to know what you would think of me and how I look or who I love and why; I’m curious if the idea you had of the adult me in any way represents who I am today. In some ways I’m thankful that to you Google could only be a fun way to spell infinity, and that the shameless exaggeration that is my profile page is safe from the judgment of your
eyes that are probably stuck under their lids. It was a time when knowing me
could only involve an actual hilarious conversation, over a warming non-virtual beer, with an unsolicited non-emoticon smile. TC mark

image – Robert Lawton

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