A Virtual Visit to 2000

When I was a freshman I wanted to change the name of my computer to “Sanctuary,” over dramatic I suppose, something I do well, but the idea is there. This space, this thing contained inside my monitor is something that is mine is a way that nothing, not even my bedroom is mine.

I’m writing this from WordPerfect 9 running in Windows 2000. WinAmp is playing some Lauren Hill in the background, and I am back in the virtual space that was mine as I was leaving college back in 2001.

It is just a Virtual Machine, so a computer inside of a computer. My Mac and all of its modern-ness is just right over there, a three finger swipe away.

But this, this? This is something. This was me so long ago, and it feels so welcoming in a nostalgic way. The only thing that is missing is AOL Instant Messenger, something I very much miss. It was, in a way, a very real social network, but one where we talked to each other, rather than post in the noise and hoped someone heard us. Social media, ironically, disconnects us from each other in a way easy to feel but hard to describe.

Hell, I imported old email into Outlook from a back up so I could see what was in those PST files, so even Outlook is filled with this time period.

I was a fucking mess, for the record. But this post isn’t about that.

A lot has changed since then. I use so little of my computer these days outside of the internet. The start is there, AIM and lots of email, but also I did things, like write, more. So is there something about the space itself that is the issue? Something that has crept into our computer sanctuaries to remove us from that experience?

It’s not like I wasn’t online, using my browser, but I was also making things, playing games. I don’t even do that anymore on the computer.

And if I could, through this Windows 2000 machine, interact with the 2000 internet and all those people I miss, I would.

The space, familiar, the sounds, how I remember those sounds. It is so fast, so damn fast.

I need to use it a few days more to collect my thoughts, but my modern computer feels, thick? Dense? There is a lot, at all times, maybe that’s where I need to start, maybe not minimal install but minimal presentation. Return things to … I don’t know.

I know I was always one with 1,000 windows open. So maybe this is just the nostalgia speaking, the overload of remembering the marble table in the front room, the love seat I lived on, the monitor and 100′ phone chord that was the internet, and all the possibility that was still there.

But at this moment, listening to Enigma, it feels like it would be better.

Yes, “Return to Innocence” is a bit on the nose, but what the hell.

It was here, in this space, first in Windows 95, then 98, 2000, then over to OS X, that I would go to retreat to, to relax, to vent, to create, to dream, to dream, so much dreaming, to lament, to center myself after heartache, to let that heartache just loose in a way that was free, but private.

And no, I don’t need to be in this Windows 2000 world to experience this, but something like my phone or iPad, which I spend more time on than my computer do not offer this… this…? what? Personalization isn’t the right way of saying it but is as close as I can get. This connection to the space as mine. Apps are closed and don’t offer the kind of space a desktop does.

And this space is mine, even new and shiny, even old and pixelated, even cluttered and full of memories. So many files, filled with so many moments.

So I’m slowly making my 2000 era space again, sans internet. (For computer safety reasons, I’m keeping the VM offline) If anything, just to experience the overflow of nostalgia. (But also to go through some old files) Maybe to see if I can spot whatever it is that I’m feeling and move that into my modern OS experience.

And who knows. Maybe I’ll open up some of those WordPerfect files that haven’t been touched since I jumped to a Mac in 2002 and pick up where I left off.

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