Share via Email Melanie Gideon and her husband: You know, the kind with the rows of holes on either side that was once used for dot matrix printers? I bring the document into the kitchen. I flash the ream of paper at my husband.
Soon I am crying. I can't really answer him. The ream of paper is a time machine. My husband and I met while working at a company in Cambridge, Massachusetts, called Thinking Machines — manufacturer of the Connection Machine, one of the fastest parallel processing supercomputers in the world.
Thinking Machines' motto was: In fact, it was the third company ever to register a dotcom domain name. We had email before virtually any corporate offices had email.
In the late s, there were no mobile phones, few personal computers, certainly no Facebook or Twitter, and before my employment at Thinking Machines I communicated with colleagues the old-fashioned way: Sidewalks are covered with ice. Lots of car accidents. It's supposed to snow through tonight and into the morning.
Anyway, I was wondering. What do you think about a visit from yours truly Sunday evening? I don't have to work on Monday so I don't have to get up at the crack of dawn.
Would that be OK? I would really love to see you. A few months after my husband and I met at Thinking Machines he was on a summer internship, I was employed full-time , he left to go to Wesleyan University in Connecticut. We were deeply, head-over-heels in love — Wesleyan was only two hours from Boston — we could make it work.
Besides, we had a secret weapon. Rather then having to rely on a shared dorm phone in some abandoned hallway like all the other long-distance couples, we had email. Between the hours of nine to five, we could communicate with each other almost instantly. We would make it through the school year no problem. Or so we thought. My emails tell a different story. I know you talked about needing space. But I really want to see you. Tell me what you want.
Tell me what you need. I just hope it's me. My husband stands at the stove, his back to me. My son sits on a stool, doing his maths. I've been catapulted into my year-old self, back to a time when my love for my husband was obsessive, intense, all-encompassing. Clearly, reading these emails, he was all I thought about.
I was lovesick, in the way only a twentysomething can be. I'm so glad you can come on Friday. So does dinner at home appeal to you? I love you as much as I love pad thai. And that's a lot. It's hard not to cringe. I was so young. Trying so hard to act like an adult. But I knew this was the man I was meant to marry. The question was, did he? It meant a lot to me.
I was not in the mood to take the bus. Also wanted to make sure everything was OK. You seemed weird when you left. Have a great day! Are you saying you think we have too many difficult times and not enough good times? Are you saying you are getting tired of the difficult times and that you think they are too many? I'm trying to write a paper. You're emailing me too much. If I think about how many days of my life I've wasted waiting for a new email from a special somebody to appear in my inbox, I'm sure it would add up to months.
This ream of paper marks the beginning of that "waiting obsession". Twenty-two years ago, my waiting was a five-day-a-week, nine-to-five gig. I could sign off at night, knowing I was offline and there wasn't anything I could do about that.
But now the waiting is You cannot shut it off. The dopamine rush when you get what you've been waiting for. The utter disappointment when you don't. I can't say for sure. I wouldn't be married to my husband without it. Email is what kept us together; it was our own personal Connection Machine. Here are the facts. We were living miles apart. He went to keg parties; I went on business trips to visit capacitor manufacturers. But we had this lifeline.
This immediate and intimate way of being in touch. I embarked upon a subtle campaign to bring my husband back to Boston for the summer. Keeps saying host is unavailable. See you tonight at the field! That was supposed to go to Joe. Well, not just Joe. A bunch of us went to play softball, not just me and Joe. I miss you so much. A very busy week for me, too.
Sure, I'd love to see you this weekend, but have plans Friday night. We can have brunch. Huge amounts of closet and storage space. Hardwood floors and lots of windows. Close to Union Square. Even closer to Harvard. Big enough for a couple. My son peers over my shoulder.
When you're a man. In fact, I need something special quite a lot. Do you have something special you would be willing to share with me? Maybe he's got a point. Do you have the phone number of that electrician? Can you pick up milk? Would our relationship have survived that first year if not for email?
I don't think so. I can just picture that dorm phone ringing and ringing and nobody picking it up. My husband asked me out over the internet, we flirted and fell in love over the internet, and we have stayed connected and in love over the internet. The very last email in the document: