Back, back, back

Josh sends me a message today with simply, blissfully a photo--labeled "We used to get free lunches every Friday"--of me, Lily, Monica, Geoff, Shayne, and Josh in the courtyard of the original WebTV building.

It sends me reeling.

There's no real reason to be nostalgic for the summer of 1997 (when the photo was taken, and when the Friday lunches were indeed free): we were making $10 an hour dealing with endless reams of ridiculous customer e-mail, commuting down to Palo Alto at all hours, kept afloat by Odwalla and cheap microwaveable burritos. But there's such a sweet patina to those days nonetheless; they were free of worries of long-term career success, of complex relationships--of anything, really, but who would win the Borders gift certificate for answering the most e-mails per week, or what outlandish surprise the next company party would hold.

It's funny what my mind is able to elide when it wants to: the frustrations of past jobs, the shortcomings and imperfections of past relationships, moments (and hours and days) I'd never want to relive. All of those get pushed down, and what comes rushing to the fore, bidden or not, are the glossy, happy, sun-dappled moments like those in the photo.

Incomplete and sharply edited though they may be, they keep me afloat when I need them most, when I need to remember that sometimes existence is nothing more than a catered meal in a Palo Alto afternoon, a third round of drinks with the friends I was convinced would never leave me, a nap on a beach in PEI with the man who filled my heart to bursting.

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