Last week, I took a break from the workday cascade of emails and tweets to sit down and listen to a colleague, an investigative reporter, describe how she tracks down hard-to-find people online. Showing us one database, she encouraged us to type our own names in. I did and one result from Amazon caught my eye. It led me to a “Wishlist” I have no memory of making. Immediately I could tell it was mine.
It consists of nine items and was created on May 8, 2000. I would have been ending seventh grade, which had been the worst year of my life, thus far. I would have been on my mom’s PC upstairs in the hallway when I wrote the list. The tawny chaparral hills would have been shrouded in fog. Or if I wrote it at night, the world outside the window would have been thickly dark, our home being rural, and there would have been big garden spiders in each pane.
Social media wasn’t really a thing yet and I never had LiveJournal or MySpace. It’d be four years before I got a cell phone. Most of my time online so far had been passive, a few red-cheeked proto-erotic Yahoo checkers chats excepted. This was in part because my mom, who distrusts technology still, had chided me against putting information about myself on the internet and I was an obedient kid. Creating this Amazon Wishlist, then, was a sort of rebellion. A first skirmish in a war of independence that would in years following be fought.