Housecleaning I

Before I left for California, I decided to eliminate most (OK, some) of the 170 messages in my Hotmail in box. That figure doesn’t include the spam, the political screeds, the widows live updates, and the messages that have already received replies. I had cleaned up my other account, reducing it from 107 to 25 or so.) Then I realized that I hadn’t emptied the trash. It had 650 messages!!! I think I heard the computer exhale with great relief when I hit the delete button.

So when I turned to Hotmail, here’s what I found:

  • three-year old jokes from my brother-in-law (whose ancestors came from Italy), including “Italian Dinner” and “Summer Classes for Men.” A sampling from the first, “Italian mothers never threw a baseball in their life, but can nail you in the head with a shoe thrown from the kitchen while you’re in the living room.” A sampling from the second: “Class 14 — The Stove/Oven — What It Is and How It Is Used. Live Demonstration”
  • messages about a couple of my mom’s works from a woman who hasn’t been at the agent’s office for three years
  • some gorgeous photos from a friend who now lives in Colorado, that’s the part with trees and not the scary part where my cousin seems determined to settle
  • verification from Google for a g-mail account I opened and forgot about. Can’t wait to see what’s piled up in that one.
  • wall writings and friend request/additions on Facebook that I took care of and never deleted. Also some friend requests from people that I don’t know, There were 26 of those that just went bye-bye.
  • a travelogue from my friend Diane’s husband Jay Halio dated May 18. I was doing the deleting in September but took comfort in the fact that it was May of this year. Diane and Jay had been to Taiwan where he lectured on “Shakespeare’s Concept of Tragedy” one day and “The Tragic Dimensions of Shakespeare’s Comedies” the next. (I’m thinking Malvolio in Twelfth Night and Bottom in Midsummer Night’s Dream because they’re the butt of everyone’s jokes.) His talk on Saul Bellow and Philip Roth was canceled because of a holiday. Jay is nothing if not versatile. He also described the magnificent museums, palaces, and the terrific food they ate.

When I finished deleting, I had winnowed the in-box to 53. Then I hit the delete button on everything except for one message that I will cherish forever. It came from my friend Puffin’s husband, who was the best boss on the planet. Not long before he died, I sent a special people note to Derry D’Oench, and he wrote back:

Dear Liz: Not for just an hour, not for just a day, not even for a season,
but always. Love. Derry.

I look at it every once in a while when I’m feeling blue. It lifts my spirits and makes me feel wonderful, even as I’m blinking away the tears.

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