I have the smallest amount of gigabytes possible on my iPhone. 8, I think. I also have a three month old child. This means that I frequently need to transfer all of my photos to my computer so that I can delete them from my phone, but I am often so confounded by the myriad, incestuous ways that my Apple devices and applications digitally intertwine that I am never sure if deleting a file here will also delete it there.
I complained to Eric about how often I was receiving the space deficit warning from my phone, and he took my phone to inspect the data breakdown. I was using up 2 gigs in Messages, he pointed out. I needed to delete conversations to free up more space. So I went through all of the tiny, aborted text threads that had fallen to the bottom of my inbox from disinterest and disuse. Wrong numbers, requests made and quickly answered. No one I am close to. I checked my usage again and the distribution had barely budged.
Big conversations, Eric explained. Like ours. It goes back for months, and is full of pictures and video, which eat up valuable space on my hard drive.
The idea of deleting months of texts was terrible. I loved this digital record of our lives together - the incomprehensible emoji sequences, the unflattering 5 second videos of hairy nostrils, unfettered grins. Fascinating articles, suggestions for restaurants we should visit, bizarre gifs. “Do you want Chipotle?” And all of the weird ways I would text-shriek in the affirmative.
The beginning of our relationship is rooted in text: on OKCupid, and after we met, on Facebook. Before I moved to New York, when I was still miserably slinging books at Barnes & Noble, waiting for an answer from the NYC Teaching Fellows, I would keep my phone beneath my desk in the Kids Department, furtively sending messages and laughing quietly at his responses. He convinced me to create a Spotify account; we began sending each other the songs we’d obsessed over in middle and high school, accompanied with a paragraph of explanation, of context. We gave shape to our growing attraction through computerized overtures, sequences of invisible data, intangible and transient. We built palaces out of our admiration, our silent hopes, our secret fears. We built cathedrals.
When I was in middle school, AIM was the thing. Actually, it might have still been actual America Online, with the dial-up, the demonic screeching, the “Hello!”. I would log on every single day after school, desperate to discuss the happenings of the day with my friends, to timidly open and close potential conversations with crushes without typing anything. Creating away messages with suggestive, pointed lyrics, and just hope that the person they were meant for gave enough of a damn to see it. When I did manage to have a successful conversation with a boy I liked, I would often print out the conversation, after making sure my father was nowhere around to see how I wasted his paper and colored ink, and staple it into my diary, safe to reread whenever I needed an ego boost. Which, in middle school, was often. I stumbled across one of those old conversations a few years ago and gagged at the sheer lunacy of what I once considered acceptable flirting. My responses were no less horrifying. So cloying and eager. Our slang was the oafish, mildewed sort that private school kids used, picked up from the music videos we'd devour on the nights we didn't have to go to youth group or choir rehearsal.
To think I immortalized those exchanges in the permanence of paper and ink when my communication with Eric needs to be routinely deleted into the ether to make room on my phone. Would that I could set fire to those reams of pubescent drivel and use their ashes to memorialize Eric and I's correspondence instead.