Every time I move to a new computer, I absentmindedly follow the routine steps for transferring files from Old PC to New PC. Then, I cross my fingers that my email history will somehow remain intact when I startup the newest version of Microsoft Outlook, and I secretly hope that some records might accidentally disappear altogether. I am somewhat of a hoarder of electronic history, having trouble letting go of bits and bytes which just might be useful in the future. For better or for worse, the transition to a new desktop or laptop provides the perfect opportunity for an electronic version of natural selection to pare down my increasing collection of .doc’s, .xls’s, and .pdf’s.
Some folders and files, though, I know will always be with me, stored multiple times where they will not be lost or accidentally deleted. They are written accounts and formal documents pertaining to emotionally charged, pivotal events in my life, like a car wreck and subsequent lawsuit, a police report I filed as an undergraduate, and the paperwork documenting the hundreds of dollars I lost to two different, unscrupulous computer salesmen. Some of these files are purposefully labeled “do not open” (an attempt to prevent myself from reliving embarrassing and painful pieces of my own history). Perhaps I should try encapsulate these troubling records all in a folder titled “No fishing!” as I heard in a sermon once, the minister’s way of admonishing us to move on and forgive ourselves for past sins and mistakes.
This week, however, I dove into my electronic records, navigating around the “do not open” files to locate, reread, and relive an episode from my past of which I have been regularly reminded over the past six years. What follows is a reflective critique. Throughout the letter (which has only been edited for length and to protect identities) I have inserted present-day thoughts and reflections which surfaced during my re-reading. As I recall events which shaped my day-to-day life not long ago, I realize how much this story continues to shape my personal and professional life today.