This laptop was the state of the art when I bought it in 06. I bought it when I cofounded a real estate school and I used it until my stroke in 12.
I couldn't use the laptop after my stroke simply because it was confusing to me.
Therefore, opening old files was like opening a ghost life.
I had thousands of emails from Envision Real Estate School, Boise State University, Idaho Commerce and Industry, and the Idaho Associated General-Contractors.
For many years, long before Hillary Clinton had a private email server, I used two laptops: Company ones and my HP laptop.
I have a habit of copying important emails from my work laptop and my HP private laptop. "Just in case."
Opening old emails trying to clear sensitive information was like opening a window to a forgotten world.
Real estate matters, strategic confidential emails plotting legislative tactics, often funny yet profane observations about work life between friends and me, sensitive contract negotiations, and every day things like lunch plans and recipes. Thousands....
Glancing through those emails was sad in a way. I remember being so busy and secure in my own thoughts and plans.
Was that really "me?" How could I juggle everything that I did?
After my stroke, my neurologist said that I am a "ruminator." In my head I was always thinking strategically about work, life, and family.
The ruminations did not stop after my strokes. Rather, my brain "short-circuited" my plans and hopes.
When I emerged from the brain fog, I had no idea about what I lost. I was just grappling to live day to day.
Recently when I chaired a stroke support group, a caregiver said, "I remember you! You were the 'guy!' You're a legend."
I was startled. Embarrassing! Even now it doesn't seem that was me.
Opening thousands of emails and glancing into my life on a old laptop, was a stark reminder my "old normal."
But I need to move on. I could grieve about my old life and think about all of those emails.
Or, I could format the hard drive to erase everything. And that's what I did.
I deleted my phantom life.