17 November 2019

The Everything

Months ago a computer was on its last legs. And its hard drive held Everything. And I moved that Everything on to the old external drive that I've used since 2007. A new drive was bought. The plan was made to transfer the Everything from the old drive to the new drive. To have it doubled.

Double the Everything.

Friday a confirmation came. That drive. With the Everything. It no longer held anything. Something about partitions.

From the Latin.
Noun or verb.
To divide, subdivide, separate, split.
To screen, hide, a barrier, to wall off.

In computing a partition is essentially creating a room within the drive where something can exist.

The Everything was all of the writing that I has done since I was 18, since 1999, since what feels like forever. 20 years is a long time.

My 20th high school reunion was scheduled for this September. I normally do not care about these kinds of things, reunions. I only lived in central Pennsylvania for the 4 years of high school. I didn't have lifelong ties to the place, the people. I barely remember most of those 4 years. I do not really talk to anyone from that time in any real way.

This isn't because I don't like the people. Or the place.

It just isn't the room where my memories live.

I decided that I would go to the reunion.

I figured that if I were to ever care about what happened to the people there, now would be that time. Before we all got old. Before we started to die and still somewhat looked like ourselves.

While I had a job I was proud to talk about. Had recent published books to talk about.

It was cancelled. Because no one wanted to come. It says something about modern life. The high school reunion was/is/? an important part of American culture. Or at least it seemed that way. The events seem to be dying off. Blame social media. People can connect, keep contact with, the people they want to. Why get together when your current job is listen on your profile?

It makes sense.

The death of the drive. And the sudden vanishing of the Everything is a mixed emotion. Who was the 18 year old that really only still existed in some dust files on a drive that I barely used?

We all partition ourselves daily. The way we interact, the way we dress, the things we engage with. And over time. We become a series of hallways connecting rooms where parts of ourselves are kept.

Today I opened my Facebook. Thought about deleting it for good for the 100th time since I first signed up for it over a decade ago. I logged in to my Livejournal. I reread those things. I began to scour email and Submittable to find files I could salvage.

There are shadows of things everywhere. I still have the handwritten roughs of everything that I actually hand wrote. On various websites, this one included, are versions of myself. Versions of Everything. I spoke to my mother about a work trip. About my 90-year-old grandfather. About how the rooms we build are never really that stable.

In the most recent episode of Prodigal Son -- another TV murder/cop show, but with Lou Diamond Phillips -- the main character, son of a serial killer haunted by his potential knowledge/involvement in the crimes, tears a wall open to answer a long forgotten phone.

The voice on the other end says it's been a long time. Our protagonist doesn't remember the voice, phone, room even.

As I downloaded the fragments of things and did laundry, I also read Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier -- another kind of Everything being lost but felt.

I have a numbness about the loss of Everything. I do not know how to feel that 20 years of final edits, drafts, manuscripts, school papers, my thesis, letters, photos, music, literal history -- is now a shadow in my brain.

Early in Rebecca, du Maurier's unnamed protagonist, the second Mrs. M. de Winter, sits at a writing desk in her new home and explores the various surfaces and drawers. She finds things in the unmistakable "scrawling pointed hand" of her predecessor. 

We process things oddly. That Everything, was it even mine? I opened a few of the downloaded files from Submittable. Thankfully, that site saves your files you've uploaded. Did I even write these?

Things always end with a fire in these types of novels. The history, the Everything, must burn off like the alcohol in cooking, leaving only whatever flavor you were searching for.

What does it look like to imagine yourself back into 20 years. To think about the fragments that can be found there and reconstruct the sound of the rain against those windows. Some Pompeii made out of the sludge of a brain at 38.9 years.

I imagine the Everything, now an ash of code, 1s and 0s in a gray pile. A locked in body somewhere beneath the surface just waiting to be found. Language is dumb in the face of technology.

A room somewhere attempts to assemble itself. The carpet is threading itself from fibers made out of thin air and the shed scales of a butterfly. The walls will attempt themselves out of paper or reeds or the breath of trees. In the house that forms, will live the Everything. And it will stay there, as the building, the room, the carpet itself, forgot to even imagine the idea of a door that could open into it all.

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