10 years ago, I was just beginning to learn how to use a computer. I joined a forum of a brand I loved at the time (supposedly a safe area for young people to hang out online, but, er, let’s just say it was educational), exchanged emails with some people, and started using MSN Messenger. This was when I first started talking to Adi.
Adi Boten was just one of the many people I met through this forum, but for some reason, she’s the only one whose story I remember from those days. I say “her” but don’t remember entirely what gender she/he was. However, considering the forum we both frequented had an eye-straining background colour of #FF66FF (later a more subdued #663399), I shall presume Adi was a girl.
I don’t fully remember what Adi was short for, if anything. I have a strong feeling her name was Adelle, as the name “Adelle,” exact spelling, keeps popping into my head. Then again, it could have been something completely different. I will never know.
Here’s what I remember of her. Adi was either in her late teens or early twenties. She was Israeli and in university, training to be a doctor (I think). She was just like my other friends in that we’d discuss friends and family, TV shows, music, and gossip about celebrities. But there was a difference. I started talking to her just as the 2003 Gaza-Israel conflict kicked off, and she just so happened to be living in an area where lots of fighting was going on – obviously, she told me the exact area, but I’ve forgotten since then. She’d occasionally tell me about the deaths, bombings, and how she felt about the situations. Checking up on good old Wikipedia today, her accounts match up perfectly to the times she mentioned them to me. Of course, she could have been repeating a story on the news, but these were very specific things that I can still recall even to this day.
She, my first, best internet friend, gave me a firsthand account of history as it was happening, a firsthand account of the Gaza-Israel conflict from the eyes of a young person.
I lost my computer and internet connection some time after I first started talking to her. It was to be expected; my Windows 95 machine lasted longer than I ever could have hoped. When I finally got a new computer and internet access again a year later, all my MSN Messenger contacts and all the email addresses of my friends from that forum were inexplicably deleted from my Hotmail account. Back then, I guess MSN were really strict on purging due to inactivity. That, or they had really shitty databases at the time, because now, MSN forgets nothing. I just logged into an email account I hadn’t been on since 2008, and everything was still there, ready and waiting should I ever decide to come back.
Anyway, all my sent and received emails and all my contacts were gone. And, to top it all off, so was my forum. I think the people who ran it finally saw that it wasn’t the safe haven for kids they’d originally planned it to be, and replaced it with some weird treasure hunt type thing aimed at attracting even younger kids that wasn’t popular at all. Shortly afterwards, probably through lack of merchandise sales, the brand failed and the entire website was pulled offline. After all, the forum was the sole reason I continued to bug my family into buying these products, long after I lost interest in the designs they were selling.
But I digress. The closure of my forum happened before I got back online, so what hurts me the most is that I never got the chance to say goodbye to any of the people I’d met through there, Adi especially. I’ve always had an excellent memory when it comes to website addresses and emails, so I attempted to add her email address and a bunch of others I remembered at the time back to MSN, but to no avail. Emails bounced, and many of the accounts were either inactive and had stopped IMing completely.
All these years later, the email I still know off by heart, email@example.com, no longer exists. Emails sent to it bounce permanently, and I’m left wondering why. I want to know if she ever finished her studies, where she’s living now, or whether she’s settled down and had a family. All the little mysteries in life.
I like to think she’d be impressed at how much I’ve changed over the years – after all, if a fully grown person can put up with and (actually like conversing with) your annoying self when you’re a kid, then they’re probably worth having around when you mature and aren’t so annoying.
I know there’s a chance that she might not have been real, or even if her name was actually Adi Boten. I will never know how much of what she told me was true or whether my brain has filled in the gaps over the years, or whether it was a story the person behind her was making up as they went along.
Nevertheless, I will remember her forever.
It’s been 10 years now. If you ever talked to Adi through firstname.lastname@example.org, are a friend of Adi, or on the off-chance you ARE Adi (SQUEE!), please contact me. I’d love to hear from you, whether it’s sharing memories of our mutual friend, telling me that my memory’s whack and she can’t have told me any of these things, or simply just a hello and an update on what she’s doing now. For me, the time I knew her is like a story that’s only been half told, and I’d like some sort of ending, and closure if you will.