Attached to my old dusty hard drive is a note to whomever finds it when, possibly, my flesh is dust.
Time moves forward, hurrying through a hundred, then two hundred years of peaks and valleys in human existence.
The year is now 2214.
A hunched back old woman ambled into an antique store on a thick black cane. Xia loved weddings. She was looking for the perfect antique gift for her granddaughter who was getting married in a week. Her silver rimmed glasses slipped down and were nearing the tip of her nose. They never stayed in place. She paused mid-stride and with her index finger pushed the glasses back to the bridge of her nose. The antique shop owner watched her jerkily walk around, annoyed that she was touching everything carelessly. She worked hard to clean the fingerprints from the glass and silver items. The old woman didn’t perceive her annoyance and continued her search for the perfect gift.
She happened upon a section with a stack of old computers. They were dinosaurs. She remembered learning about them in school. Large screens that required power cords and batteries to run littered the white round table. Computers in those days consumed more metal and plastic than the people of the time were able to manage. It was amazing to her how primitive they were. She looked at her wrist and smiled at the computer she wore there. It was no more than two inches square. A simple push of a bottom and a crisp, lifelike image of a computer screen popped up on a wall, along with a lifelike keyboard in front of her. The People’s Corporation, the largest community run company in Xia’s city, recently released a new model that allowed access in mid-air, no wall required. The hologram somehow didn’t need a wall to present a fairly solid looking image of a computer screen and keyboard that seemed to sit on a desk in front of you, no matter where you were. She couldn’t afford it, however. It was too new and too expensive. The beauty of the time Xia lived in was there was no more wasted metal, plastic and power cords that were cumbersome and hazardous. No more dying batteries that ultimately found their way in dumps. Endless power was harnessed from the atmosphere and funneled to the wrist mechanism—what powered the wrist computer was drawn directly from the skies. The days of dying batteries and having to search for a power source were over thanks to the pioneering work of Nikola Tesla, a man before the age of computers.
As she looked around at all the nostalgic items from many yesterdays gone, she noticed one smaller item amongst the heap. She remembered it from her elementary school classes. It was a hard drive from a computer. With shaking hands, she picked up the piece to examine it. Her fingers touched something smooth at the bottom. She turned it over to discover a note attached to it. She leaned her cane against the table that housed the many old computers, removed the note from the hard drive, sat in the chair nearest her, unfolded it and began to read it.
To the one who finds this, hello.
I don’t know how far into the future this hard drive will survive. Mountains of waste in acres of fields have claimed far more precious items—and some not so precious. Many of them may not resurface in a future time, but will be melted down, burned or left to sit amongst piles of old worn out shoes, broken plates, molded rugs, unwanted wigs, Lego blocks, spark plugs, unloved books and a host of other items, some of which probably should have never been made. Who knows when the earth will reclaim many of the things we’ve made and turn them to dust.
Maybe my hard drive won’t suffer such a fate and someone will find it, scratched and bruised, but able to be restored, like a fine piece of antique furniture or old antique car. Love has brought many old things back en vogue. This hard drive, while not the kind of thing one might show off at tea parties, does contain memory. It is filled with my voice, my words, and my heart and soul. You see, I’m a writer. On this drive that is now discarded lives the many thoughts I’ve had about my current culture and the many stories I’ve written that give voice to how I feel about this world.
Had I the funds to restore this crashed drive, I would not be discarding it. But life has been a struggle and the world is taking a turn. I am not as young as I once was and even less savvy. It is unclear if the turn this world is taking is for the better or for the worst. Time will tell. If it turns out to be for the better, then the one reading this will know that humanity surfaced on the other side of its challenges with fewer bruises than I had anticipated. I am hopeful. But more than anything, I want you to find a way to restore this drive. There is history here, my history and to a great extent, our history from my perspective. In some ways, it is accurate. In other ways, it is simply my way of seeing. Oftentimes, that is really all any history is, a collection of stories based on what we believed about the world at any moment in time. Our personal stories add to the puzzle. It allows those in the future to piece together history more accurately. Or, at the very least, get a sense of how people processed their experiences. It speaks to what one woman, me, felt in a time where you may or may not have existed. Admittedly, this hard drive and note may only make it into the hands of someone tomorrow. But if by some strange destiny it makes it into the hands of someone a few hundred years from now, then my my, what an adventure for that person.
I’ve written too much already. You will not only find my writings, but many illustrations, photos and research notes I’ve collected. Each item speaks to what interested me at the time; to what swayed my way of seeing my moment in time. I turn this adventure over to you. Restore my drive and immerse yourself in one woman’s view of the world. It is sometimes sad and sometimes glorious. But it is always me.
Xia looked up from the note, stood up and remained silent for what felt like minutes. The store owner raised an eyebrow and wondered if the old woman was going to croak in her store given that she stood in one place for far longer than what she felt was normal. As long as she didn’t ruin her displays when she fell, she didn’t much care. She was tired of the old woman’s fingerprints anyway. Xia picked up the hard drive, grabbed her cane and walked to the front to check out her item.
“Will that be all?” asked the store owner.
“Yes. That will be all.”
“What is that thing?”
Xia looked at the woman and wondered what elementary school she went to. “It’s an old computer hard drive.”
The store owner laughed. “What do you want that old thing for? I usually only see techie heads come in here looking for that stuff when they’re studying the history of ancient computers.”
“This is more than just a computer part and history lesson, it’s memory, it’s a piece of soul.”
“Memory? Soul? Lady, are you ok? It’s just a piece of junk.”
“Two dollars and six cents.”
Xia took her purchase and left. She knew she’d found the perfect gift. Her granddaughter was a writer after all. More than that, she was a writer who loved to read how other writers saw the world. Xia would restore the drive and give her daughter a gift from the past in hopes of guiding her steps into the future. Xia was glad.