Earlier this week I met up with Dan for dinner in Cole Valley to catch up. He just took a new job a senior director at Adobe, and was out here from NYC for orientation and what not. (We ate at Padrecito — fine, not bad, probably won't be going back anytime soon.) We got to reminiscing about the early days of blogging; the novelty, at the time, of meeting People from The Internet in real life, and the magic of connecting with strangers in the early 2000s. Today I fell down a rabbit hole of nostalgia fueled browsing on The Wayback Machine, both on my old blogs and the others that were a daily haunt of mine.
Oh man, nothing holds up. Not from a writing standpoint: the performance, the affected voice, etc; not the design: so many pixel fonts, so many iframes, so much Juxt-esque decorative typography; not from a purely mechanical standpoint: so, so, so, so many dead links.
It's weird. 1999-2002 seems like an absolute lifetime ago. It's so strange to read entries where I'm clearly so familiar and integrated with a cadre of bloggers that today I hardly remember or am completely incapable of reconnecting with — even with Facebook, Twitter or a host of modern tethers.
I'm often struck, when reading through Newspapers.com, how much identifying and personal information journalists used to include in articles. They'd report on a robbery, and list the address, full name of the person robbed, how long they'd lived there, and often a biographical sketch — because they had no sense of a larger permanent data cache on the horizon. Sometimes I notice similar trends on these old blogs. People listing names and places, things that, pre-social media, meant little — but today I think people would hesitate. I redacted Dan's last name at the beginning of this post, in fact.
On the other hand, there are plenty of people that I connected with back then, who are still friends today; and it seems bizarre now that the catalyst at the beginning of our relationship was a chance encounter on this relatively intimate corner of the web. It was pioneering at the time, and deeply, deeply weird to everyone else. ("Who would want to read about your life?" "Is that even safe?" "You're going to meet a total stranger from the internet?") ("Me, for one," "Probably," "YES.")
But when I think about it, here we are today where the vast majority of the people I call friends came to me via the internet. Where my boyfriend is someone I knew tangentially through Tumblr, then Instagram, then messaging, then in the flesh, then Twitter, then Facebook, then very much in real life. Where one of my closest confidants I met via a feature of his home on Apartment Therapy, stalked his blog, commented, and here we are today, exchanging hundreds of messages a week, visiting each other relatively often though we live in different countries, etc. Where my boss at a fairly giant, house-hold-name company only knew me because we both used to be bloggers in Utah.
Though I've been blogging for so long, I still think 2002 me would have been stunned at even the barest hint of what today looks like. I was at Scullery, a little cafe near my apartment, when suddenly "Breathe" by Telepopmusik came on the overhead. I was immediately transported back to me, in 2001, just after highschool, riding the bus to and from Salt Lake City, working two part time jobs just aching for "my life to start." I could sense this dim vision of my future that I longed for: a city, somewhere, the trappings of adulthood — an apartment, a closet of clothes I picked, a commute — and a circle of friends who understood and liked me. Maybe even someone to love. (I was listening to a lot of downtempo, moody electronica. Here, I made a playlist.)
And it's like... I'm sitting in my office, in San Francisco; I'm sitting in a corner cafe at the turn of the seasons on a waterfront; I'm bringing take-out back to my studio downtown, feeding my dog, noting the changing light as the year progresses. It's here. I'm here. I did... it.
I just need to take stock of the progresses I've made, the distances I've come. I wouldn't classify as having "made it," it's just... some sort of accomplishment.