There was a moment I remember well from my third year of college, while I was lying supine on a long chair in a university building. I looked skyward out a window nearby and let my gaze lose focus, and the sky appeared unnaturally saturated through the tinted glass. The clouds had sharp edges, like sculptures of styrofoam. It was the first opportunity I’d had in recent memory to lie and watch them closely. I thought about how long it had been since I’d had the chance to observe the sky like that. I thought for a long time but couldn’t determine the interval.
The farthest trace I can find today of myself on the internet is from precisely Wednesday 15 September 2004, 20:10:47 EST, the first message I had sent, aged 10, with my new Gmail account, no longer used, to a school friend who had moved away to China. There were earlier email accounts and usernames, preceding the era of gigabyte inboxes and decade-old web services, but they’ve since disappeared, their data permanently erased after years of inactivity. A few durable links to the distant computerized past persist, and these logical, orderly fragments are recallable to the present; but otherwise a tremendous amount has been lost to the unreliability of memory.