Sitting in the bleachers above the swimming pool, the temperature outside dropping below zero after a day’s reprieve – yesterday: sunny and mid-20s, momentarily glorious – I wait for my daughter’s events by clicking one by one through the hundreds of contacts that automatically appeared on my new phone last week. Apple has not made this easy – no mass extermination possible, each one an individual reckoning.
The names go back more than a decade, names that help me pinpoint about when I must have gotten my first cell phone (10 years?), names that can largely be erased but only after my brain tabs through the possible connection — the recalcitrant book editor or the one in the spike heels? nondescript mom from preschool? designer associated with the museum project in Brooklyn that sounded so promising? high school friend’s wife with interesting business idea? Sometimes I can’t locate the person at all, which is distressing. As girls churn through the 100 butterfly in the water below me, I wonder out loud, “Who are these people?” reminded of Butch and Sundance riding in exhaustion and looking over their shoulders: “Who are those guys?”
Rarely, though, do I hover over delete, unsure of whether to remove someone from this little machine that wakes up with me and goes to bed with me. If I can’t remember, if there’s no resonant feeling, then they’re gone. Deceased therapist book editor who didn’t seem to really like me nice woman at crafts museum with whom I never did work woman who changed her name several times and each one is recorded here man with whom I had a flirtation cousin of my ex-husband fraternity brother of my too-long dead father handyman who moved away babysitter who grew up momentary best friend dog sitter. All gone. Erased. But hovering out there in whatever techno ether world allowed them to descend on my phone last week. Ghostly, they wait for my memory to need them, to recall a connection that no longer exists.