The chat service AOL Instant Messenger
was permanently shut down on December 15, 2017.
I proclaim, one day each year, we find each other in the Database of Screennames and apologize for the easy cruelties we enacted without knowing pain we cause still counts as pain. Make it a bank holiday. Make it a festival of door-opening sound effects, make us feel the exhilaration of somebody we ache to talk to finally logging on. The remembrances will be sweet and silty, grit in the back of the mouth, sugar on the tongue; granulated nostalgia and regret. Let us acknowledge our interpersonal lows, like the time I made a burner account to check if my crush had blocked me because he was tired of talking, and he had. Let our old internet boyfriends reach beyond their kids and drinking problems and let them be sorry—not sorry they met us but that they weren't kinder to the interchangeable girls behind wolffox and penguinsfly and happykitty86—how disposable I must have seemed to them, a receptacle, a shapeshifting blank. I still think about the photo of the pretty girl I sent off once, pretending she was me, a tan leg draped over the monkey bars, freckled and smiling in magazine perfection. He said: I know this isn't what you look like. He said: lol you don't fool me. Give me a day for all the times I demanded to be loved by the world and wasn't. A day for all the knots we've had to unwind, and the compulsions, too, the countless ways we still ask the wrong people: am I good enough for you?