You know back in the day when America Online was real big? And by “back in the day”, I’m talking 2000… which insanely enough was almost 18 years ago! (Stahp it!)
Anyway, “You’ve Got Mail” became so popular that they even got Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan to star in a movie about the thrill of getting a single message in your inbox and the anticipation of that little alert when you signed on to your AOL home. I remember it, and it was awesome.
In 2000, I was 14. My email address was firstname.lastname@example.org, and the most common exchange in my emails and chatroom conversations was the basic three-letter question: a/s/l?
It’s funny thinking about that, because just today I stumbled on an article that talked about the end of AIM (AOL Instant Messenger). It’s been years since I used AIM, but as soon as I heard it was ending, a sudden nostalgia enveloped me. AIM was how I communicated with my friends on school nights when my parents limited my phone time so that I’d “study”. AIM was where I wrote whatever lyrics were in my head in the “about me” section (lots of Hoobastank and Matchbox and Weezer at the time), or how I stalked my crush (if you left their browser window open, you could totally see when they signed on and off). AIM was the first way the Internet let you sort of define who you were to the virtual world. AIM was the best…
And when I was 14, it was just AIM. There was no Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram… nada. And it was sorta… nice. There wasn’t a constant flow of information, and when you left home, you could also leave the ever-going stream of media. You didn’t know where people stood politically, you didn’t have to see couple fights (why do people do that online??), and you weren’t barraged with everyone’s varying opinions. My flip phone didn’t alert me the moment my starred friend posted a new update, or when someone sent me a dog-filtered snap.
I miss that little silver flip phone.
Life is so much more complicated now, and I feel utterly exhausted by my everyday tasks. Is life one big circle of sleeping, working, making dinner, and cleaning? After reading that AIM article today, I drifted off into a daydream, remembering what it was like when the only things I had to concern myself with were getting my homework done on time or working hard at swim practice or seeing my boyfriend’s handle sign in on AIM (it was a really witty handle, too).
Alas, this is adulting, and it has its good bits.
But sometimes, it’s fun to simply sit and remember the small things that used to make you really happy. Remember all those times when you received a thrill from a single email… “you’ve got mail”. Being conditioned like one of Pavlov’s dogs to do a stomach somersault after hearing that ping that he signed online. Remember being so moved and exhilarated by a song and finding yourself in the dreamy and genius lyrics. Remember ditching practice with your friends and driving to Yutan just because, or sneaking out at night to meet that cute guy from English class in the woods behind your house. Sitting under the stars until curfew. Piling into someone’s car and enjoying the warm summer Omaha air at a downtown CWS game (Rosenblatt style). Taking a sip of a Zima and feeling buzzed and invincible (yeah, I said Zima. Don’t knock it, it’s making a comeback.) Staying up all night and sleeping all day because the only agenda items on the weekend were re-watching Clueless for the 84th time or versing your boyfriend in Dance, Dance, Revolution!
My day was full of busy. But in my mind, I escaped to the past – and I feel rejuvenated.