When we first met, I was a pimply nerd whose worldly experience consisted of cruising sepia-toned Bulletin Board Systems. You were a loosely organized collection of sites, gleaming with possibility, but still very much a work in progress. Or as you liked to say, “under construction.”
We spent long hours tying up the phone line. I adored the way you answered, with a shrill series of beeps, followed by a long breathy whisper. Our conversations revolved around nothing in particular: the rarity of certain Magic the Gathering cards, PC game release dates, Ken Griffey Jr.’s batting average. You offered my mother recipes, which she would print and tuck away in a binder. But you also played hard to get, making me type in the entire http-colon-forward-slash-forward-slash-www string just to see you.
Looking at us back then, it’s crazy to think we would spend our entire lives together.
You had a fondness for sparkly fonts and police sirens. You played the MIDI plaintively. Our love was uncomplicated by trolls. Email was so special, you would announce when I had received one. This honeymoon phase lasted years.
Teachers didn’t understand us. Not fully. Though I was allowed to research with you, I could not cite you. And that hurt.
Each date presented the chance to visit a new GeoCity, or movie website. (Hasn’t it been so long since we visited a movie website together? We must make time for this! But I understand: life happens.) Twitter wasn’t around to distract us. Facebook was years away. I will never forget the first time we reached third base. The image took several minutes to download, and my grandparents were sleeping in the next room. So naughty, so much fun.
During college, we grew even closer. You opened my mind to new music, kinky sex, and instant messaging. Though we had to watch out for viruses, they were a small price to pay for an unbridled amount of information. We wrote and stole thesis papers. Bought junk at auctions. You introduced me to mash-ups. As you were finding yourself, it often seemed like the change was too much to bear. Once flush with cash, you suddenly went broke. There was a phase when you became heavily addicted to Flash. You were so experimental then. Weren’t we all?
After graduation, we knew we had to take the next step. We started spending every waking moment together. You were literally attached to my arm. You had grown into a sophisticated, emotionally voluble partner. There was nothing about me you did not know. In those rare instances when I left you, on trips abroad or in otherwise uninhabitable places like the woods or an elevator, I felt like I was missing something elemental. I felt rudderless and alone.
Some of my friends were concerned I’d become too obsessed, living in a co-created fantasyland. Some even said my devotion to you had made me dumber. To them I asked: is this not the workings of true love?
Recently we hit a rough patch. Though we had been together for two decades, I noticed you were lavishing more attention on young people. They seemed to “get you” more. To me, the young people were all dogface filters and no substance. They hadn’t known the times of Orkut and Buzz and GrooveShark. The dark days. When images were bitmap, and we asked questions to a fake butler named Jeeves.
After a trial separation lasting two excruciating hours in the stupid woods, we decided to renew our commitment to each other. Which brings us to now. Maybe we don’t always agree. Maybe we’re not supposed to. The one thing I do know is this: I love you now more than ever. We’re in this for the long haul. If there comes a time when you can be permanently affixed to my retina, I’ll be the first in line. You are the internet, my internet, and I promise to love and honor you all the days of my life.