My hard drive crashed, and I lost everything.
Everything is an exaggeration. Everything always is.
I lost some of what I had. Not most, not even a moiety, but a portion. To start, a fourth of a novel and all my notes on its development. I miss the novel about as much as I miss the '80s PBS show Mathnet. Which is less than I ought, and which probably means I should give up forcing myself to squeeze out novels 500 words at a time and go back to doing what I do without prompting, like sleep.
And poetry. I miss, acutely, some of the poems I lost. It could have been worse: I recovered more poems than I really had a right to recover, unearthing them from self-addressed envelopes fat with rejection, from files flung into the ether of the Internet, from the printed pages of obscure periodicals, from odd corners of my email.
Thank God for email, which allowed me to reconstruct most of my tax records and almost all of my long-range professional planning, though not the document containing a record of which poems I'd sent to where, and why, and how long ago, so now I run the risk -in addition to the risks of dying, of choking, of having my heart prised open- of saying the same thing twice.
My pictures, on the other hand, are gone. There were three or five left on my camera. I uploaded them, let them huddle together in a vast empty hangar of file space. They are strangers to me. I thought, when I lost what I lost, that I was losing memories. It falls out, though, that memory is even more fallible than hardware. I have already expunged the provenance of this picture. I do not know when it was taken, or why, or where. It happened; that's all.