Losing My Memory

By Kirsten Red Shirt-Shaw

Two years in 24 hours gone . That’s what happened to me last weekend. My phone shut off and wasn’t able to turn back on Saturday morning after I unplugged it when waking up. Stuck on the apple logo for what felt like hours I found out it was in what’s called a “Boot Loop”. Trying to reboot itself for at least an hour nothing was working in my personal favor. I tried hard resetting it and finally got the thing to turn on. Happy and content the moment really hit me when the words welcome popped up on my screen. Reading the small font I realized that it had reset my whole phone to factory settings which meant my phone’s memory was wiped clean. All of my photos, videos, apps and notes were gone. Poof out of thin air. This hard-to-swallow-rock in the back of my throat feeling was starting to settle in. I grabbed my stomach and ran as if I was about to throw up but what came out instead a hard sigh. This can’t be real. I’m not going through this right now. I couldn’t comprehend that my last two years were just gone from my phone just like that. I was mad because it was as simple as just plugging in my phone a week ago and backing up my phone or downloading things to the cloud. Me being lazy and careless led me up to this point by thinking something like this wouldn’t ever happen to me. I was wrong. As the days went on I layed in bed for what seemed like a month. I started watching Umbrella Academy thinking it would help ease the deep pain I was feeling but honestly the distraction only lasted for so long. I stayed up every night since the day all my phone issues happened and just cried. Hated myself for being so careless and hating myself for being upset over a phone when bigger issues were out there. Clearly me losing my last two years of memories isn’t the end of the world. I had cracked after coming to the realization that there were certain memories that I did alone or did with friends that my family wouldn’t just have readily available to send me.  I sobbed. I cried and hissed at myself in the mirror. My mascara smudging as I said “You mother fricken b*tch how could you be so fricken careless so stupid its no wonder why you’re a dumbass.” How did losing my memories on my phone come to a point where I was just verbally abusing myself. It was something within my control. Yes I could have prevented my phone from losing its data by simply backing everything up but then something happened because of it which made me think more about myself on a deeper level. I downloaded several backup recovery programs to my Mac which claimed to help restore lost data. It worked in one instance but not how I was hoping it would. Photos that were lost popping up on my screen as I sat there in absolute horror which made me feel extra deflated. My Ex. Photos and videos of me and my ex brightly shining against my glasses. These were the memories I didn’t want to remember was this just some giant F U from the universe. Some man behind some magical keyboard in the sky thinking of every possible way to ruin my life as if deleting my memories weren’t enough. I turned on my spotify after all of this was happening and played Billie Eilishs new song called “My Future.” and the chorus hit me in that moment “I’m in love with my future, Can’t wait to meet her” then following with “Not with anybody else, just want to get to know myself.” I was in love with the memories made and the people I made them with but the photos only showed a glimpse into what was going on behind the scenes. For example I had a photo of myself from Halloween 2019 I dressed as Veronica Lodge from Riverdale. Hanging with my friends and dancing was the best part of the night but then I realized some guy was flirting with me and lowkey compared me to his friend who was less attractive and said that me and him looked similar. He pointed over to my friend and at himself and said he and her were the attractive ones and as he chuckled and I chuckled back I felt very annoyed with myself and felt like covering up and running home. I mean yes my friends are pretty and I in that moment still regardless of what anyone said felt pretty. Thats not all I took provocative pics to impress a guy from the summer, I took a photo of my eyes from the first  time I ever got high etc. I also took photos of beaches, my sisters weddings, beautiful sunsets, concerts, my travels, disney, selfies from when I was feeling like a bad bitch, and when I was my happiest. I read an article recently about a man who was traveling and lost all his pictures. His name was Jack Doliner and his article described how in 24 hours he lost all of his memories too. The article titled “I Lost All My Photos In One Day, And Here Was What I Learned” he was quoted saying “My photos aren’t memories themselves. They’re just reminders for me to recall the memories that are either in my brain or not.” I realized when I looked back to good memories some of which were mainly at concerts I could recall some of the best parts. Seeing the Jonas brothers twice and the second time seeing them with a friend as we tried sneaking up closer to the side of the stage screaming the words to “That’s Just The Way We Roll” and laughing. When I saw Harry Styles in concert and coincidentally matched with him by wearing the same outfit he wore on his album cover. Girls coming up to me after and complimenting my outfit. Sneaking into a club and seeing my favorite DJ Zedd surprise the crowd. Remembering the good memories made me glad that I was able to recall things without physically being able to look at something on my screen. It made me feel that crying and being depressed over losing the last two years on my phone was just a silly feeling after all. Yes I might have lost the memories through photos but I didn’t lose the people. All the stress started to evaporate from that moment on. Am I devastated by all of this still, yes! Although it has given me a sense of hope that moving forward I don’t have to live my life through a lens. I can live my life in many other ways. I can document by writing things down, telling stories through my art and even just use a traditional camera and not my phone all the time. Being stuck inside makes me itch knowing I can’t just jump off the couch and go make new memories but knowing I can in 2021 is just as important. Finish my art degree, go to more festivals and travel is what I look forward to. Losing it all has also helped me gain so much more too. Being grateful for the people in my life who have made the memories and things in my life worth remembering and even thanking those that pushed me and made my memories also hard to remember. I love that this journey can have a fresh start. It takes losing memories to ultimately gain memories too. Trust the process and know just cause things may seem horrible in the moment doesn’t mean they will always be that way. You’ve got this. Also, don’t forget to back up your phone. Pila maya ye..