Thursday, May 12, 2005

Data Lost, Institutional Memory Regained

NEW YORK -- Just arrived. Post-virus laptop report. I hate someone out there, but as it's impossible to know just who wrote the virus that destroyed my laptop last week and forced a total reformat of the internal drive last night, I'm letting my hostility go. Om. Om fucking shanti. Let's look at the silver lining! I re-installed all the software on the flight and am delighted by how swiftly the thing boots up and runs now.

I had backed up my files (not a complete idiot), but somehow had neglected email and the last few weeks of photos. Including the last New York trip documented in earlier posts. All those subway photos. Damn. True, I could have held out for data recovery, but the reunion weekend ahead and some impending paid work will require a laptop, so I had to get this one out of the shop. In effect, I've sacrificed past correspondence for the sake of the immediate future, where I plan to correspond with my more distant past, the life I lived for three awkward years at boarding school.

As regular readers may have guessed, I've never been a rah-rah type, never sustained any school spirit, never been peggable as a booster or a joiner or someone who would show up for something so institutional and treacly as a reunion. I’ve avoided all the previous events. But something about this one stuck with me. After tossing the early mailings, I started to pay attention a couple months ago, when a pleasant, funny woman at the school called to make sure I was coming. She seemed very real, not at all like the administration androids I thought I remembered.

And then a few other things happened. Everybody I talked to about reunions said they'd loved theirs, against all expectations. I recognized, as noted a few days ago, that all the 18-year-old wretches who bedeviled me are gone, replaced by adults who just might be kind of worth meeting. It occurred to me that if some of my friends showed up, the event might be fun. So then I started shilling to lure the dispossessed. Network marketing. I hope my downstream reprazents.

And I remembered how beautiful and old and mysterious the actual buildings and campus are ... or were. True, the school sold the Skeets, a few luxuriant acres of rolling fields where we used to loll in the tall grass and drink and lose our minds. They’ve built impressive new structures to house scientific inquiries and administrative iniquities. Dorms have been decommissioned, and teachers and coaches dismissed or deceased. Some of the buildings I lived in were pretty decrepit even back then. Yet most of what I lived with is probably still there in spirit. And if even a couple of my former pals show up, we’ll be able to reminisce and relive moments and sentiments I’ve certainly forgotten.

What on Earth was I so mad about all the time?


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