The lightest most valuable thing

Through a series of most unfortunate events, I lost all of the contacts in my phone during the course of the summer. And after mulling over this fact glumly while sitting on airplanes or staring with a flickering glimmer of hope into the blank face of the Apple Care guy, I finally mustered up the energy to sit down and manually re-enter them. A task to fill the long car ride between Richmond and Cambridge, I figure.

But funny enough, as I drive back to campus—surrounded by my family and an inordinate number of boxes—I find that manually inputting contacts into my iPhone is a surprisingly poignant thing to be doing in this particular place and time.

First of all, I freely admit that there is (in all likelihood) someone who is far more tech savvy than myself who could save me the time and monotony of doing such a thing. On the other hand, I am reluctant to find that person as I sit comfortably in a family van and realize that, well, I have nothing better to do.

But here’s the thing—putting these contacts in my phone has actually been enjoyable. I’ve always been one for scrapbooks and preserving memories, but with each (804) and (617) that I input, I am given a pleasantly colorful reminder of the face that lies at the other end of the unassuming 7-digit number that follows the two area codes of my life.

So, number after number, I dutifully plug away, happily enjoying the most unlikely scrapbook I’ve ever come across. I laugh to myself as I see the number of an old Driver’s Ed instructor and the labels that were attached to contacts as earnest attempts to remind myself of faces and names during the crazy frenzy of Freshmen Orientation weekend. Many of those labels are completely unnecessary in the present place and time, now that a grand collection of numbers and names that were input during that fateful weekend have come to represent dear friends.

This is Year 2.

Though I can’t believe how quickly freshman year and the summer after have flown by, I utter silent thanks as I look at the phone numbers which speak volumes about newly sown relationships, those that have already blossomed, and those which have so much potential for the future.

And alhough it is perfectly irrational, I also re-input the numbers of the friends who have long moved out of the country, the people whom I knew in brief instances and flashes of my life, and those whom I’ve quietly fallen out of touch with. As I look through the long list of numbers, collected over years and experiences a plenty, I revel in a monotonous task because it gives me a chance to give a moment to all those people who have filled my life from near and far.

Isn’t it funny that you can carry an entire community in your pocket—from Dar es Salaam to Shanghai to Cambridge? And believe me, I’m unapologetically taking this entire community back to college with me as my second year begins.

After all, that phone directory—

it is the lightest, most valuable thing that I have the pleasure of carrying with me every single day.

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