I was trying to find dates for something nearly 20 years back.
Anniversaries, so to speak – when I met certain people, when certain social things happened.
I like to commemorate things like that, or al least acknowledge them. We met X years ago, that sort of thing.
There’s a cluster of those dates coming up. When I wrote Wanton, for example, which is very much the beginning of a period of life for me (I tend to list that as Nov ’03 but it was probably more like spring of that year; I have no record of the actual writing, though, only mention of it in email archives when I first shared it, fall of ’03, and when I first published it, Nov ’03, so that’s where I put that date).
Things happen after that writing only partly connected. I definitely found a number of kindred souls, who responded to it with the same intensity with which I wrote it. But also the making of it produced something in me, in terms of wanting to reach out and communicate differently.
When I started blogging (encouraged by people I shared my novella with like Jen & Circe). When I first connected to people I got to be close to after they read my work (Doxy, a number of others).
And then orkut – there are probably a bunch of things in my archives about orkut, and I should write a whole piece about it now, near 20 years later. But it was, for a while, the best social network that has ever or will ever be, until it collapsed under the weight of expansion too fast. But it was founded in ’04 and I joined not long after. So I met a lot of people who impacted my life in positive ways, may of which i’d still consider friends, even if we rarely talk (Gregg C and Andie being the most important, with a half dozen others I retain on facebook as friends).
Nearly 20 years ago, which in terms of the internet, is a geologic age.
But I was trying to fix specific days, because once I started wondering, it mattered to be exact. If one is trying to commemorate an anniversary, saying ‘fall of that year’ doesn’t do it.
I thought all my email from that era had been purged when I transitioned from an old-style mbox based, command line email (elm, and then mutt, for those geeky enough to care what I mean), and started using apple Mail.app (I will always prefer Mutt, but getting it to play nicely with modern email just started to seem like too much work).
I found it all the other day, though, archived at work, compressed and saved as an archive ‘just in case’.
It took some digging to find the conversations I needed, but I got specific dates for when we started talking, for various people.
Wow, what a trip it was, reading conversations 20 years old. Seeing evolutions of friendship, seeing how much effort I put into dialog. My own flirting style from 20 years back. Hell, I’d fall for me, I was good.
In some ways it was painful; in 20 years there have been a lot of ups and downs in my life (in everyone’s), so some conversational branches remain uncomfortable to think about overmuch (I compartmentalize extremely well, but some compartments, I just do not want to look into, yet).
But in others, the warm glow of nostalgia for good times suffused me; truly excellent memories, brought back my snippets of conversation with a number of people.
I have not yet gone through all the archives; there are hundreds of separate conversations, grouped by email addresses I sometimes don’t even recall without opening up files. So there’s more treasure yet to find. But the dates I was specifically looking for, I found. I now know which days I met certain people, and when to mentally celebrate them, or us, or at least when we met. Which matters to me a great deal.