I was the queen of AOL Instant Messenger. My strongest friendships were forged in tiny dialog boxes that brrringed onto my screen after my long and noisy journey into the Internet. When my husband and I began “talking”—that exciting phase of adrenaline and smiles before becoming “official”—it was over AIM. Each of us hurried to our clunky student laptops after work or class, eager to flirt through witty quips or pine over the song lyrics in our away messages.
Texting was a different matter. At first, I refused this new fad, this extra mode of communicating for my rich friends with fancy data plans. Then it became a staple.
Then my parents started texting.
Then my mother-in-law.
Stores with BOGO coupons.
A flood of messages when I was driving or teaching or chasing the baby, with no away message to explain, I see you, but I’ll get back to you later, when I’m not busy being a grown up.
So I stopped replying.
Now it’s become a bad habit: they call and I don’t answer; they text and I forget to reply. But I imagine marvelous conversations—ones where I actually do reply. I’m witty and thoughtful, we get each other, our relationship fortified after a night of writing and laughing. I imagine us texting the night away—after work, after making dinner, after putting the baby to bed—wiping away years of distance. I feel the high of AIM, hear its scintillating bleeps and brrings. My fingers fly on my keyboard; my abdomen seizes in giggles. And when it’s time for us to retreat into our lives again, I imagine posting an away message: Out adulting, talk to you soon.
Because I do miss talking.
I just want to do it over AIM.
[296… I went over my usual word limit because I lost some depth when I tried to cut it down to 150. I kept it as short as I could.]