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Cleaning The In-Box, One Year Later

I looked down at my phone earlier tonight and saw the text message envelope icon flashing, indicating my text message in-box was at capacity. So I began deleting the excess messages until I reached what I call my Text Message Hall of Fame–the 18 text messages I have kept, for whatever reason, since they were sent to me.

(And yes, in case you couldn’t tell by the previous sentence, I have not upgraded to an iPhone, a BlackBerry or any other phone model which could save an infinite amount of texts indefinitely. My phone–a Samsung from maybe 2005–can save 35 text messages. So I treasure each spot, and only 18 messages have made the cut since 2003).

I don’t pay much attention to the Text Message Hall of Fame anymore. For whatever reason, I haven’t received a text message hilarious or moving enough to save in a long time, or one so emblematic of a particular moment in my life that it just had to be preserved. So I wasn’t anticipating any revelatory moment today when I deleted the string of irrelevant messages that would end at the most recent entrant in the Text Message Hall of Fame–the last message I felt compelled to save.

And then I saw it, and I smiled. The last message I saved was from June 17, 2008, exactly one year ago. It was from my friend, Joe, who knew I’d be nervously watching Game 6 of the 2008 NBA Finals, probably by myself, which is the way I prefer to watch sporting events about which I care so much that it might make my loved ones uncomfortable. It was one of many, many texts I got that night, but, for whatever reason, it was the one I chose to save. 

From 11:32:48: “Feeling comfortable yet???”

A year later, I can see why I saved this. I vividly remember receiving it, only because Joe is a Bulls fan, and my superstitious Celtic fan friends mostly waited until the game was over to formally celebrate the 2008 title. But Joe had nothing at stake emotionally, and so, like a rational fan, he realized Game 6 was over early in the fourth quarter and decided to text me a congratulatory message. 

I don’t have my response saved in my outbox, but I know what I wrote: “Just cracked open a beer and called my Dad.” 

I have no idea how many points the Celtics were ahead by at the time I sent that message, but it must have been at least 25. If it were any less, there is no way I would have felt confident enough to send a message like that, much less reach into my fridge, open a beer and call my dad in Connecticut. I don’t remember much of what my dad and I talked about during that phone call. I know that he was probably, like me, thinking back to my childhood in the early 1980s, when I would ask him dozens of times in the hours leading up to a big Celtics playoffs game whether he believed the Celtics would win. Or laughing at how I used my Nerf hoop to re-enact Larry Legend hitting jumpers over an imaginary Terry Cummings. Yes, Terry Cummings was a recurring character in my childhood home. 

I do remember saying to my Dad during that phone call, “Can you believe they are going to do this?” We both lost our faith during the first round series against Atlanta, most of which we watched together in unbearable and stunned frustration. As I’ve written here before, I left for a trip to Central America the morning after Game 6 of that series, convinced the Celtics, by wasting valuable minutes against a mediocrity like Atlanta, had blown any chance of winning the title. My Dad agreed.  And so our surprise was genuine when we chatted over the phone about how we couldn’t believe our luck in witnessing a 17th Celtics title, even though we weren’t together to witness it.

All of those memories came back today when I saw Joe’s message in the Text Message Hall of Fame. One year ago–what a fun memory. 

I also watched Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals last year with Joe and his girlfriend (now fiance) at a bar in New York. As the Celtics pulled away late, I made some loud gesture that startled his girlfriend–a fist pump, a scream, something. She expressed some form of surprise or displeasure, and Joe responded: “Hey, that’s his favorite team from childhood, and they’re going to the Finals.”

And in the Finals, they won. Damn right. 

Let’s hope I get a sequel text message a year from now.

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