A few months ago I came across a shoe box full of floppy disks on a shelf in our garage. Describing the disks as “old” is as unnecessary as explaining prehistoric times as “long ago.” In an era of technology advancing at warp speed, these disks are Mesopotamian archives.
But intriguing archives at that.
A few were labeled with obscure titles such as “creative 1996” or simply my initials, or those of my husband’s. What information they held varied from worthless to invaluable depending on my sentimental mood in the moment.
What I did know was that I couldn’t possibly just dispose of them at the recycling center without having at least a peek into the past.
My attempts to speak tech are slim at best. Same with car talk. In both cases I only request that the modus operandi be simple, efficient and fast. And somewhat stylish (I’m an Apple gal).
So I brought a few floppy disk samples with me to the technology-recycling store and lamely asked if they could sell me “the thing that I need to make these disks accessible on my Apple computer.”
Back at home I methodically inserted each of the disks into the floppy drive (purchased at $16, worth the investment). For the majority, the drive’s motor briefly churned and then flat-out stopped, indicating I discovered that the information was irretrievable.
For a rare few others the drive would continue to churn, sputter and then the disk’s icon would finally appear on screen.
Scrolling down this obscure memory lane I discovered old writings, letters, a few timesheets, and a patch of photos.
The photos were grainy and captured scenes from my first baby shower in an amateurish, “smile for the camera” way or with candids of sandwich-chomping guests caught off-guard, along with a few from the day before the gathering. During this time the guest of honor wasn’t me but our beautiful baby daughter Lauren who had arrived seven weeks early, well in time to be home for “her” baby shower.
I’m struck again by how small her little body was. A tiny pink face set off by big wondrous eyes. Little splotches of yellow marking her jaundice. Too-big newborn hats covering wisps of blond hair. A bundled babe held by adoring grandparents or admired by cousins, photo after photo.
And then, I opened a photo and staring back at me is my younger self, holding my newborn close. My daughter’s preemie face, eyes closed, is arched up with her cheek resting against the blue polo shirt I’d donned from my husband’s closet to accommodate my post-maternity body.
I’m staring straight into the camera, tired eyes confident and clear. My head is protectively tilted toward my babe. A quiet smile across my lips only hints at the enormous pride I feel. This is the face that recently witnessed the amazement of birth. This, world watching through the camera lens, is my child. My child.
Once again I feel the moment I transformed from me into becoming a mother. The worry and wonder of becoming a parent for the first time: The days ahead of milliliter bottle feedings, long nights interrupted by wee cries, watching Lauren stretch toward the warm sun in her cradle, and rocking her close under the glow of a nightlight.
What memories I could foretell my old self, but then, this face staring back at me anticipates it all. Eagerly.
And to think, I’m thankful to rediscover an invaluable, primal moment because an old floppy disk decided to work.