Twice this week the past has reached out and handing me a present. It’s kind of amazing.
My computer died (okay, was staggering around limping in circles) so I took my dad’s old computer, which was just taking up space in my mom’s office, and made it mine. (Although you still have to log in as him, which is a bit … odd.) I copied all my files on it, which combined with more than a decade of his files, means that this machine is part time machine, part computer junk store. I’ve found some awesome things while searching through the hard drives (yes, plural). Like Commander Keen 1-6: the first video game I ever loved. I remember playing it with the neighbours before going to summer camp in 1993, and it wasn’t that new then, I don’t think. I found DOS based solitaire games, and work files for companies that went under a decade ago, and more.
I also found the picture directory, which had been, as I knew, corrupted. Years ago, something went wrong with the G drive, and while all the folders were still there, most of the pictures had been compromised, leaving nothing. This wasn’t noticed for a while, so it was backed up over the old uncorrupted files and much was lost. My dad tried all sorts of things, but nothing was recoverable. Years later, David tried a few more things, to equal results. We had all just accepted that most of the family photos from 2002-2008 were gone.
I had been trying to find a picture on the computer, and got frustrated with how totally impossible it was, given there were pictures in folders all over the machine. So one evening, I organized it. 21k of pictures in the end, from 2002-2010. I sorted them by date as best as I could, and by event/theme. The first time I came across two identical folders, I almost deleted the second one, but I stopped and opened them both in thumbnail mode. On the left? 2 actual pictures in a folder of 25 images. On the right? 25 pictures! At some point, the picture folder had been copied to my hard drive, which then spend 8 years in other computers, only to reunited uncorrupted.
Er, I think that’s what happened. As I occasionally found multiple sets of the same pictures in different folders, so I’m not exactly sure how these pictures were returned to be, just that they are.
A gift. A gift of hundreds of pictures no one ever expected to see again. A gift that trebled the number of photos of my father. A totally unexpected gift from the past.
(Even if it captures a lot of terrible hair choices that I made. The angry militant lesbian wasn’t my best look…)
Then today, at my mother’s house, she went looking for brown yarn for a craft thing I’m working on, and came up with a giant neon pink Tupperware box that I have never seen before. That I could swear I’d never seen before. She told me that it wasn’t brown wool, but that I should open it.
Inside was every beloved outfit from my childhood, sitting nicely clean and folded. My dress from the kindergarten photo! My mom’s favourite summery rainbow heart dress! The matching dresses my sister and cousin and I wore for my grandparents’ 40th (?) anniversary party! And so many more. Just waiting for Jess to grow in to them.
Another totally unexpected gift from the past.
Okay, I know that these things were never truly lost, but that’s not the point, is it? The pictures were gone, and mourned, and resulted in me ALWAYS printing out and making vacation albums, because I know how easily pictures can vanish. The dresses were lost and mostly forgotten, until I flipped through photo albums and talked about trying to recreate some of the pictures with Jess. And now I can! In the actual clothing. (Which are practically vintage now, aren’t they? They’re certainly better made than most of the stuff Jess owns now.)
One of my favourite authors, Douglas Coupland, says it best: “There are three things we cry for in life: things that are lost, things that are found, and things that are magnificent.” And two finds like this in a single week definitely made me misty.