Memories Offline

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This week one office door closed and another opened. I left my job after almost eight years and among my most grueling tasks was packing up my office after roughly 1800 days of work—a number that makes 500 Days of Summer, look like a drop in the bucket.

To get started, I began with three bins. One for trash, one for things I would send to my next office and the last for things I would give away. But as I dug through my drawers and cabinets, it became clear that my organizational system was unfit for this task. There would only be one pile necessary.

Among the dried up markers and pay stubs was a paper trail of memories dating back to 2002—a journey that I started by checking coats in a New Jersey bar while I hunted for a real job in the big city after college. Since then, relics that document the last 8 years of my life have accumulated all around me. The most valuable treasures included: a birthday card from a friend that has since passed away, a photo of me and Anna Nicole Smith from a party when she was promoting one of her weight loss systems, an apology note from the first guy who broke my heart, a train pass from Montclair, NJ when I couldn’t afford NYC rent and a business card from a handsome man I met the night my best friend came out to me on the rooftop of a hotel downtown. I remember inhaling cigarettes at record speeds, assuring him that telling his parents wouldn’t be a big deal. His tender look back at me told me he believed me.

Although I have fully embraced the digital era and love tweets, texts, chats, BBMs, wall posts and Foursquare check-ins, these communications are forever fleeting. They can make the past seem to completely disappear from our newsfeeds, inboxes, and eventually our lives. Just think of the birthday wishes we receive on our Facebook walls. After just a few days, those heartfelt messages are buried beneath updates on where we ate lunch and what we think of that evenings’ sitcom line up. The lack of permanence creates an emphasis on the here and now with less thought left for the where we have been.

I know the world does not plan on slowing down, but as we all continue moving as fast as a status update, I hope we do not become a world ridden with “No”stalgia—a place that is less humble, where people forget their history and are less thankful for the journey that took them to their final destination.

Right now my last eight years barely fits into six large cardboard boxes—and I hope that in the next eight years I only accumulate more baggage. Even if that makes packing up a total bitch.


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