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ImageAs I’m spending hours this afternoon watching the little gray bar ease its way across my computer archiving five years of magazines I produced, I feel a bit like I’m paging through an old scrapbook. My professional goal today is to load up this 2 terrabyte drive with every bit of design work I’ve done over the past five years to hand it off to my successor. I’ll be leaving the job I have held for over a decade on November 9 and I have mixed emotions.

I’m not questioning the change because I know in my heart of hearts it’s time. I need to be branching out creatively and reducing deadline stress which has been of no help to me or my family. So I’m taking the leap from comfort and routine, but it’s like throwing away a “woobie shirt”… that well-worn favorite from years ago that you can hardly bear to move to the donation pile.

All this digital backing up worries me though. In one buried folder on my hard drive I found a folder labeled DAD. It’s the back up from May 2010… the 400+ images I used to make the memorial slideshow; the press release and obituary that I edited; the eulogy I wrote that my brothers delivered while I stood behind them because I couldn’t bring myself to speak; the four-week mail archive from April 17, when he entered the hospital for emergency abdominal surgery. I put all of these little memorials into a folder and promptly backed them up at the time, because the thought of losing those physical reminders on top of my father was too much.

The thing I’m realizing today is that they AREN’T physical reminders, they are electronic… floating in digital never neverland. Do they really exist if they can’t physically comfort me? What do I do when I want to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon reminiscing, leafing through my past curled up on the sofa with a cup of tea? Or what happens when I want to show my children the pictures of that Christmas in Tallahassee when all three kids dressed in red and white stripes piled on dad’s stomach like one of those banana boat rides? Go boot up the computer and spend an hour scrolling through iPhoto? What if that dreaded sad mac appears and I lose everything?

The thought of printing out 400 pictures is daunting to say the least. Perhaps I simply have to back up MORE and make sure there are numerous copies on all my digital devices… surround myself with the e-memories of my past. Hmmm, doesn’t sound very comforting.

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