On Sunday, prior to returning home for an afternoon of football with little miss, my amazing, wonderful, generous parents accompanied me to upgrade my slowly-dying iPhone, and surprised me by purchasing the new one for me as a slightly belated birthday gift. My poor 4S held on as long as it could, but I’ve been dealing with a litany of issues, not limited to missing/stalled texts, a battery life of approximately twelve minutes and this weird problem with my email where it displayed 4 inboxes, for months now. Like all good Apple devotees, I had grand plans to wait for the 6, but I’m not that technologically inclined, so the extra money for a larger phone with features I don’t really understand wasn’t super appealing to me or my bank account. I already love the 5S, potentially just because it works and I’m not used to that, but I will admit, I ran into a minor hiccup in transferring data from the old phone to the new one. Namely, nothing, aside from my contacts, transferred, leaving me with a phone that has zero photos, zero calendar reminders and an entire text history wiped clean.
Fortunately, my photos are backed up on my parent’s computer, and I barely used that calendar, save for a few birthday reminders that I usually remember anyway. But losing the texts is another story. I’ve had some iteration of an iPhone since 2009, and up until this weekend, I had texts in there going back to the beginning, if I had the time or attention span to scroll that far. Truth be told, every once in a while, I loved going back and reading old text conversations. I’d aimlessly scroll through a funny exchange about residual yoga pain with my lovely friend M, chuckle at the post-Sunday Funday messages from months ago with my fashionista C, find the name of that great bar my partner-and-crime R and I went to back in the spring. And sometimes it was fun to look back at old messages from the guys that have cycled in and out of my life in the past year or so, looking at the last text exchange before things faded seven months ago, rereading a birthday message from last week, a surprise present that made my Saturday night. There was a rich history in those texts; I could trace the beginning of one friendship and the slow fade of another if I took the time to scroll.
But on the flip side, keeping that many memories is a loaded weapon, ticking away the seconds before the emotional bomb explodes. I could find the final “I love you” before messages took a sour turn, exchanging apathy across the ocean. I could watch the slow beginnings of a new relationship, the getting-to-know you messages, peppered with comments about the spring weather and grand plans for the summer; I could watch that turn into the “I’m sorrys” and the “I can’ts,” the “thinking about yous” that make me angry and sad all at once. There were words in that long text history that were meant to be sweet but could cut through my torso like sapphire glass, unbreakable. It was the lowest form of self-harm, consciously rereading those conversations rather than deleting that history, knowing I can relive a painful past with the slow swipe of a screen.
I don’t know why I chose to keep that much information on my phone, to be perfectly honest. Part of me is sad that I can’t look back and find those beginnings anymore, the new friendships, the still-happy relationships. Part of me is sad I don’t have the first bubble in a conversation that’s still going, just in case it ends like I’m convinced it will, even though I really, really don’t want it to. But there’s been a tangible shift in perspective for me in the past few weeks, looking at the year ahead, the milestones; a shift like I want to take everything I’ve learned lately and just move forward, stop dwelling on the past and stop worrying about the future, and start over. It starts with a clean slate: in this case, a phone with no history, waiting for a new history to reflect on when rereading old conversations in the years to come.