I had an unlimited text messaging plan and a sleek little phone perpetually set to vibrate. I got disappointed if I went to the bathroom and didn't have it with me. My phone was me.
Then the unthinkable happened. My phone died over graduation weekend, just as my family was flying in. As I looked at the suddenly useless hunk of plastic and metal in my hand, I realized the silly Facebook groups I’d seen throughout college—MY CELL PHONE HAS GONE TO THE GREAT PHONE STORE IN THE SKY, SEND ME UR #S PRTYPLS KTHNXBAI—didn’t seem so funny anymore.
I wasn’t upset about losing all my phone numbers, though, as much as I was upset about losing all my text messages. Only in a cell phone would “This is Mom and Dad and we love you! Always!” be a single click away from “Jello shots are straight from God.” I could watch how friendships evolved from an insecure first text—“Hi! It’s Jeffrey! Do you want to do dinner maybe sometime next week?”—to a bittersweet, all-too-close reply to a babbling voice mail: “Um I miss you?”
I have almost drunk-texted family friends and professors because their numbers were in my phone. Messages like my mother's "did you remember to eat vegetables today?" sat next to incriminating pieces of evidence from exes. All my text messages, all my history: gone, just like that.
Somewhere in between baccalaureate ceremonies and photo shoots, I managed to convince my parents to drive me to the Verizon store. All I wanted was a phone exactly like my old one. Then my parents started making happy noises: there was a two-for-one deal on a slide phone. I wanted a slide phone, didn't I? And it had a mini-keyboard, too! Before I could get a word in edgewise, my sister was getting a brand-new phone exactly like mine. She looked up at me and said in a steely tone, “I've already picked out the picture. Don’t get yours mixed up with mine.”
As I started asking my friends during our graduation-weekend good byes to give me their numbers again, I wondered if my phone's death was actually was a cheap form of therapy. One of my exes punched in a phone number, and I decided I'd forget to save it. I was getting a new college degree, sure, but a new cell phone? Now I was starting fresh.
My first text message wasn’t from any of the friends I was graduating with. It was from my little brother: “Congratulations big man!”
Image credit: computerwoche.de