This I Believe

Audrey - Los Angeles, California
Entered on July 25, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: children, family
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The Digital Age

There are two small, silver cases sitting on my desk right now. They’re sleek, metal hard-drives which—as soon as I get to it— will carry a lifetime’s worth of photographs and writings.

My goal is to scan and save every printed-documentation of my life. I’m doing this because in the digital age, there is no room for such tangibles as lock-and-key diaries and paper photographs, especially for someone like me who has moved between countries over half a dozen times. I learned it the hard way when I went to my parents’ house one day to check on a large plastic bin I’d stuffed all my childhood photos and several volumes of journal entries starting from when I was 6 years old. “Um, where is my…?” Before I even finished my sentence I realized what had happened. During their recent garage sale, my parents had inadvertently opened up the box to let customers rummage through. It hit me like a sledgehammer and I broke down crying. I completely lost it. My entire childhood had been erased. My parents didn’t quite understand what’d happened, but they still felt horrible.

I’m 31 years old and so only a fraction of my life was spent in the digital age. I started chatting via 14.4 kilobit modem when I was 13, opened my first email account when I was 18, and bought my first digital camera when I was 22. After that, technology just spun out of control. Now, I plan out weekend outings through instant messenger programs. I show off vacation photos via email. And I let others in on some of L.A.’s best restaurants with the help of a website called

I mourn all those years I spent with a pencil in hand, scribbling all my best childhood memories onto now-yellowed pieces of paper. My chihuahua Brownie, my first crush, my first trip away from home… I did eventually find my journals that day after I stopped crying and gathered the sense to search the garage for them. Visitors had thrown them all around the garage. Most of my journals ended up scattered between dusty clothes and old encyclopedias—though the 1992-1994 high school years are still missing. Oh well, I refer to it as my ‘lost years,’ anyway.

Once I gathered my childhood into a nice clean pile, I put it in a sturdy shopping bag and lugged it back to my apartment. On the side of the bag, I wrote in thick, black marker, “Property of Audrey. BEWARE,” so that my roommates knew not to mess with it. So in the next few months I plan to spend many weekends at home, in my room, scanning hundreds of pictures and filing them away in beautifully digital high-resolution. With my journals, you know I’ll be typing away each and every word, typos and all. Sure it’s no Harlequin novel, but it’ll be the most amazing read I’ve had in a long while.

Oh, and of course, I’ll be sure to burn back-up copies. Just in case.