I am five years older than Yann, which isn’t a significant difference. It’s not exactly an insignificant difference either, as proven by our discussion the other night. I was explaining to him how I had spent part of my day indulging in nostalgia by browsing the old internet. I did this by Wayback Machine-ing a few of my old favorites.
The internet used to be uglier, but it was also a lot more fun. Right now, it’s so consumer-driven. Once pop-up blockers got effective, the internet had to get creative with advertising which is now disguised as social media apps or sponsored blog posts.
Splash pages are dead. Guestbooks are no more. Chat rooms are obscure. Even webcams have disappeared, and they were a prerequisite for personal websites of the late 90s/early 00s, usually appearing in the sidebar. The chosen photo would be the webmaster/webmistress’ (two of the most short-lived terms to ever exist) pick of the day.
Sometimes, the webcam would be live, refreshing at a rate of once every five seconds or slower. I had to stop there and further explain live cams to Yann.
“Streaming camera, you mean?” he asked.
“Oh, no. Those were the days of dial-up internet.” I paused to fix my glasses and brush a wisp of grey hair out of my face, “We didn’t have streaming media.”
“So, it’s like video chat?”
“No, you just let people watch you in total anonymity,” I continued as I leaned back in the rocking chair, preparing to school my young boyfriend on the golden age of the web.
My first blog post was published on May 13, 2000. It all started with:
I don’t write like this anymore. For the first year, I couldn’t type the word “you” in its entirety, which never made sense because I’ve always been an exceptionally fast typist. It was not a time-saving strategy. I was being a Millennial back when Millennials were the young generation.
I posted 12 more times that month, some posts were a single, short paragraph. I kept it short and sweet, sometimes too literally, such as when I scanned Lucky Charms marshmallows.
Three and a half years go, I knitted my first scarf. Since then, I have knitted four toques. I nearly finished a fifth in the time it took to drive from Montréal to Vancouver, but when I got to the stitch decreases for the crown, I decided my handiwork was a waste of fancy yarn and unravelled the whole thing.
I’ve started something new, but it is not going well. Reading a knitting pattern is a skill I have yet to master. It goes something like this:
1: K1, P2, K2, K1togbl2, *K2, P2; rep from * across, end K2.
2: K1below, P3
3: Alternate between rows 1 and 2, until you realize that you’ve spent hours doing the wrong thing, and clench your jaw so hard in anger that your teeth shatter.
In 2002, a deaf friend came for a visit and stayed with me in Vancouver. During that time, the roll of film that I had dropped off at the drugstore a few days earlier had been printed and was ready for pick-up. (The excitement of seeing your photo prints has been taken from us since the popularization of digital cameras.) I wasted no time and dragged my guest to the drugstore. We sat on the curb out front to look through the photos, but before I opened the envelope, I warned her that the images were not for the faint of heart.
She’s one my best friends. Surely she’d approach this with an open mind, I thought.
Prelude: I’m happy to report in the last 11 years I’ve learned to go easy on the run-on sentences and apply my makeup with a light hand. I routinely break 300 points in a real game of Scrabble. My fridge is still a Moffat.