One day, it happened. An email plopped in, without preamble or fanfare. Just an automated notification that someone had left a comment on an ancient, seldom visited and rarely remembered tumblr post. A post from That Account. The one that is never talked about. The one that only ever posted things about a very specific niche musical genre and the happenings within it. The one that only existed for a few intense months, on account of an inexplicable obsession with this utterly obscure genre. The shameful, seldom remembered and hopefully rarely noticed account.
Yet there it is. The email. A reminder that the internet is reluctant to forget, despite the willingness of its users.
“Did you lose our wedding rings again?”
“Then we’d better get new ones, lest others mistake our lack of material affectations for lack of affect”
“How about those cheap ones from the vending machine outside the supermarket?”
The old rust bucket rusted. It hadn’t seen a real road in years, and dust had begun to accumulate in places where it probably should not accumulate. Her knowledge of old American cars was limited, but she knew her grandfather had spent innumerable hours in this very garage fixing this very car. The word “Corvette” was prominently displayed in several places.
It struck her that although she had loved her grandfather, there were many things about him she did not know. Over the coming weeks, she would most likely find out some of them, as all the stuff had to be moved from what was no longer his home. Beginning with this rusty, dusty garage.
The collection was well-ordered, if you knew what to look for. It had a large selection of 80s and 90s CDs, a great many VHS tapes (which only wobbled slightly), and an occasional DVD. It documented, with some gaps and unreturned borrowed exceptions, the musical and cinematic taste of its owner and curator. The accumulated media consumption of decades, preserved for posterity, and only occasionally reshuffled when moods struck. Or when circumstances forced a moving of house.
However, despite the well-ordered nature of this collection, one thing stands out. The addition of new items seems to have stopped after a certain point in the mid-00s. Should you ask its owner, he’d most likely tell you at length about his active interest in contemporary music. But at some point, owner and collection fell out of contact with each other. It remains, as it were.
After his passing, a void. Friends, family and co-conspirators gathered to mourn and remember. Every thing he was involved with turned into a monument – the blog posts, the tweets, the usual haunts, the commonly used words, the things that go to make up a life. All turned into monuments and statues, reminders of who no longer is.
Such a grand museum can not be curated by any one person. It is not meant to. It is too much, too large. The work and the burden overwhelms the lone soul.
Find the others.
They are my companions. My trustworthy, stalwart friends in my many adventures and tribulations. A constant source of wisdom, inspiration and reasoned truth. A comfort in times of sorrow, a joy in times of gaiety, a stabilizing anchor in times of anomie. A constant presence, a constant in an ever shifting time of uncertainties.
Imagine my surprise, then, when I received an email from the library:
“This is a courtesy notice that the following items will be due soon. Please return the items or have them renewed.”
Followed by a lengthy enumeration of all my friends, one after another. Then, an imminent date of last return.
This solar system was dead. To be sure, most solar systems are dead – big hunks of gas and rocks which never even pretended to be anything but matter in motion – but this system was different. This system had been alive, once.
Preliminary estimates guessed that it would take decades to go through and catalogue all the debris. A few years would certainly be shaved off that workload by vigorous scavengers leaping at the chance to salvage spare metal and new alien technology. A few years would most likely be added by virtue of everything taking longer than predicted, even when this extra time was taken into account.
It didn’t matter. The past was very much the future, and there was much work to be done. A whole solar system’s worth of work, to be precise.
They might even find out what happened to these poor, forgotten souls.