Several weeks ago, my computer crashed. This happened shortly after giving in to those constant reminders that I needed to upgrade Windows 7 to Windows 10. Coincidence? Maybe. Or it could just have been that the computer was five years old.
While my husband Sam and I both can usually handle anything that goes wrong with our computers, neither of us were able to do anything this time, as the hard drive had failed. Fortunately, Sam’s friend was able to retrieve all of our documents, photos, and videos. We had pictures from back when I was in college all the way to this past Christmas. Words cannot express how grateful I was that the friend was able to take care of this for us. (If you haven’t already bought an external hard drive and back up your data regularly, you should do so!)
Since our Mac Mini arrived, I’ve been copying over all the files from the external drive and organizing things into folders, which has made for one interesting trip down memory lane. There has been laughter, tears, and a lot of “what the heck was I thinking?!” moments.
Remember how just a few wine coolers were enough for Girls Weekend? That’s quite the drop off from my college days. I came across this photo from a little party Sam and I had in our first apartment when I was a senior and was surprised at how much booze we had on hand.
After the party pictures, I found photos from our wedding and honeymoon. Most were of the typical wedding and honeymoon fare, but a few others were more…interesting. There’s one picture of me with my bridesmaids, one of whom is holding a knife, while another is sewing up a button that came off the back of my dress before the ceremony. Yet another photo shows my sister wearing a huge t-shirt at the reception instead of her dress, and one from the honeymoon shows me red-faced and walking like Frankenstein, as the resort was all-inclusive and I was able to drink to my then lush heart’s content.
Next are pictures of our first home, which we had signed the papers for before tying the knot. Each room has a different theme, including the infamous Irish bathroom with the bright green paint that glowed in the dark. Thanks, Sam.
There were also lesson plans galore. There were units on The Diary of Anne Frank, The Watsons Go To Birminghman, and Romeo and Juliet, to name a few. There were some plans that I don’t remember teaching. One Excel file contained grades for all of my 70-odd students.
I found documents where I tracked all sorts of stuff with Little Man, from how often/how much he ate to the words he knew. One of his earliest words was “No,” and the last thing I recorded was the sentence, “Put your shoes on, Mama.” He was the same age as Baby Girl (20 months) when I entered that sentence. Two things: I don’t remember him calling me “Mama” (sniffle) and he was hella verbal.
There was Little Man’s first birthday, first Halloween, and first Christmas. Then came pictures of him on his first day at preschool. There were a few pictures of him sporting a black cast on his arm when he broke it shortly after his third birthday. And, oh, the vacations. That sweet, smiling face building sandcastles and karate chopping waves. Pictures of him on his first soccer and t-ball teams appeared eventually. After going through more folders, I found a picture of him on his first day of kindergarten. Less than two months after that day, we would find out that he would be a big brother.
Littered among the pictures and lesson plans were copies of my earliest articles as a freelance writer. Wanna know the topic of my first piece of paid writing? Newborn bowel movements, which makes sense, considering some of the things I tracked with Little Man. Everyone starts (and apparently stalls) somewhere, so thank God for pseudonyms! Finding screenshots of some sports articles that were published on Yahoo was nice, though.
While I’m on writing, there were so many short stories and novel attempts. Many of the novel attempts were, from my estimation, halfway finished. I also came across business plans for the consignment store I started and ran for a year before selling it. I was obsessed with planning and, like with the novel attempts, would stay up for days planning down to the tiniest detail, but after I opened it, the wind was taken out of my sails and I eventually loathed going to my store and sold it.
There were also many, many diet plans, meal plans, and exercise plans. We know what that worked out. Between the stories, the business, and the dieting, I’ve come to that conclusion that I’m not much for sticking with things apart from my little family.
Ah, the house plans. Before we bought our current house, one of Sam’s favorite things to do was come up with plans for a house he wanted us to build. Some of the houses would have been amazeballs, and others were just awful, like the one that had my tiny office/writing area off the back of a walk-in closet. Those were fun times, though, planning for what we wanted to be the place where we’d likely spend most of the rest of our lives.
I also came across songs Sam had written. Some files were simply lyrics, but others were recordings of Sam playing the guitar and singing the songs he had written. I may be biased, but some of the songs were among the best I’ve ever heard.
There were also videos of my husband portraying a character we created. The character was a redneck who praised all things Sarah Palin and had a profound hatred for hippies, Obama, and Tina Fey. There were a few videos of him singing songs in character. Another document I came across held song lyrics we wrote that were inspired by quotes from the movie Sling Blade. (Back before we became Netflix zombies, one of our favorite things to do when we had alone time was create funny stuff together.) I also found the folder with videos of him singing these songs, as well.
Finally photos of Baby Girl came around. These were more organized than a lot of the other files, since Sam set up imports to go into monthly folders. There was one video Sam took shortly before I had the C-section where the doctor was trying to check on things and Sam asked me how I felt. Since I couldn’t sleep more than a couple hours that night (and we had to be at the hospital at 5AM), I was pretty grouchy and told him to put the damn camera away, much to Sam and the doctor’s amusement. And then came photos shortly after she was born, the day she came home, the first time she sat up on her own, her first Christmas, and her first birthday.
And that brings me to now. So much has changed. More than one-third of my life is on that drive — and all of my kids’ lives and much of Sam’s. There are no more lesson plans or photos of ridiculous parties now (not ones of that caliber, anyway). And no more first birthdays and first steps will be saved on a computer we own. But there is still so much to come.