As you look around your home, how much old clutter do you see lying around? Let’s say you picked up a tennis habit quite a while ago and now have a racket hanging on the inside of the coat closet. Although you haven’t played tennis in a decade, the racket is familiar to you as you see it daily when you open the closet door to retrieve your shoes. Because you are accustomed to seeing your long-unused tennis racket, it does not really seem like an item from your ‘past.’ However, if you were to uncover a long-forgotten suitcase from the hall closet, the contents may feel as if they were plucked from another world.
This morning, I metaphorically salvaged the lost trunk when I logged into an old email account. Like the old suitcase in the closet, the email account is filled with contents from another era. It is a weird feeling to read words you do not remember writing or see moments captured in pictures that would have been forever forgotten without the memorabilia. Some things are cringeworthy. For example, I found a video from college in which I and two other students explained the role of “Spanglish” in the United States for a final linguistics project. We filmed the video in Spanish and used some cheesy special effects. The video was almost 10 minutes long, but I could not make it past the first two because it was hard for me listen to myself trying to utter words in a very American accent that wanted so desperately to sound like an authentic Spanish speaker.
Curious about what else I could find in my old college account, I meandered over to my Google Drive and scanned the titles of documents and photos. I stumbled upon a photo album that was compiled by an acquaintance at a Christmas party (see Pikachu picture at the top). I remember the party was a secret Santa event and the Pokémon was one of the gifts exchanged. As I scroll through these pictures, it is interesting for me to see young eager faces that have inevitably matured with time. This group at the Christmas party comprised my study abroad friends (I was domestic, they came from abroad). These students were only here for one or two semesters before they jetted back to Brazil, the UK, South Korea, Japan, France and Chile. These pictures capture the only time in our lives where our paths met up at the same little geographic pinpoint on the map, which is a beautiful thing.
Another funny thing about scrolling through an old email account is stumbling upon names that are no longer on your contacts list. For example, as a freshman, I joined a few different clubs and have a host of emails all from the same sender. While this person’s name infiltrated my inbox on a weekly basis years ago, now their name is only a reminder of another time.
The simultaneously most cringeworthy and most fascinating find in my email account were drafts of stories that I attempted to pen as a college student in my free time. I found well-thought out first, second, and third drafts for chapter one of a book with a plot so reminiscent of “Twilight” that it makes me want to bury my face in my hands and send all traces of the file into oblivion.
Old digital content is an interesting window into our past. While worn clothing, sports equipment, and books can give us a peak into the people we once were, reading old notes, seeing ourselves in photographs, and hearing our voices on video reacquaint us with our authentic, raw selves. Reading my own words unlocked my then-thoughts, feelings, preoccupations, and aspirations. It was as if my mind were momentarily transported back into another near-forgotten reality. Re-discovering the contents of my old email account was surprisingly pleasant. I will take this as a reminder to continue to write, take pictures, and leave my future ‘self’ little breadcrumbs to enjoy at a later date.
Whether physically in your house or digitally, I hope you, Dear Reader, have a little memory trove hidden somewhere to remind you of who you once were.