This week, I received a notification that AOL Instant Messenger is ending. On December 15th of this year, the service that was the biggest part of my social life from the mid-1990s until just a year or two ago will go offline for the last time.
Up until fairly recently, I was always logged into AIM- if my computer was on, my screen name was active. At one point, I had collected nearly a dozen screen names- some were used for work, but most were personal. AIM was the way that we spoke between departments during my early years at my previous Mr. Company, because nobody had invented Slack yet and “team chats” were a fairly nascent idea.
Lately, the AIM buddy list is a ghost town- there are only a handful of people who still connect, and most of those have their screen names configured to mobile devices. I would venture a guess that at least half of them don’t even realize they’re still signed in- it’s that slow there now.
AOL Instant Messenger is just one more thing in the ever-growing bucket of things from my past that are gone now, things that I miss quite a lot. AIM and Yahoo Messenger, both removed from heavy usage by their parent companies were one giant part of my life for most of the last twenty years.
So too was LiveJournal, at least from 2002 until around 2011. The communities there were wonderful, and I made fast friends through those interactions. I’ve been commenting in recent posts about the process of going through my old LiveJournal to move worthwhile content over here to WordPress while simultaneously preparing to close out the original LJ. This is for two reasons: The first is that LiveJournal was purchased by a Russian company a few years back and they have since moved their data from US-based servers to hardware that is actually located in Russia. The second, and far more pesonal reason to close out LiveJournal is that it’s a ghost town- most of my closest LJ friends have since deleted their accounts, and there’s only a handful of people from my list who still frequent the platform. Posting there in 2005 was like being in a well attended warm and friendly party. Posting there now is like shouting into an empty factory.
Things change, time passes, and many of the things that I love have faded away.
When I moved to Orlando, there were two restaurants downtown that I really enjoyed: Frank & Steins, which was a delicious hot-dogs and beer joint, and the Red Mug diner, which was a 24 hour diner at first.
First they cut the Red Mug in half- they said that the right side would be a new Poke concept restaurant. Then they cut the 24 hour aspect on weekdays, saying that it was summer hours and you could still go there in the middle of the night on Friday and Saturday nights. Finally, they said never mind all that other stuff we said, and we’re just closing the place up.
Frank & Steins was closed up to renovate and reopen as a “food hall” concept, but all the super delicious food on the original menu is gone, and my tongue weeps in gustatory grief.
I was going to include Smash Burger in this list, because the one in Oakland Park closed, but I was delighted to find this chain is alive and well in Central Florida. Smash is one of my top-five favorite burgers, although my brother doesn’t like it so much.
So many of my memories are about food, now that I think about it. My mental map of my adopted German hometown Regensburg is marked almost entirely by where the food is. And then there’s the Navajo.
The Navajo sandwich was a Cheesecake Factory staple for years- chicken, avocado, lettuce, tomato, red onion, and a dash of mayonnaise served on this delicious thick sourdough bread, and I would order it more than any other thing in the restaurant. When I came back from Germany, the Navajo was nowhere to be found. Gone from the menu, without a trace. A Google search shows that I am not the only person who laments its absence from the menu. Someone even set up a Twitter account as the sandwich looking for work, but even that faded out after 2013.
Damn, now I’m hungry.
What thing do you miss that is gone from your past?