The future foreseen


The future foreseen

Looking for old family photographs, I find a package of mementos of my own business career, saved by my mother. My young face is on magazine covers, business advice columns in the Minneapolis paper, in a Forbes magazine. 

An old newspaper quotes 'the only woman keynote speaker' at a conference I do not remember attending as saying "she expected people would find in a few short years it was more economic to read the newspapers off screens rather than printed on paper." 

It takes some research to figure out that the newspaper and conference are both in Australia. The date is just weeks after my wedding in September of 1982. Some 35 years ago "Ms Amochaev spoke of merging technologies which would result in screen-based telephones with special interfaces to access databases, such as telephone directories, and do home banking, teleshopping and other transaction processing. Telephones and computer terminals would become the same tool."

I remember that we had to postpone our honeymoon, and that our first year of marriage resulted in about three months together because we both traveled so much for our jobs. I do not remember speaking at this conference, and certainly not this very prescient forecast of my favorite device, the iPhone. But sometimes life is stranger than fiction.

I found every letter I wrote to my parents as a young woman living in France, every postcard sent from travels around the world. My life is laid out in detailed notes written in Cyrillic Serbian—a language I would have denied ever writing in had the visible proof not been sitting before me.

I also found a letter sent by my parents to the Russian scout camp at Bucks Lake. My mother is sad to tell me there are no airplanes to Quincy, California, so she has sent the mysterious black felt I requested by surface mail. My father complains that we don't write— Camp is two weeks long after all—and insists we send a note to my cousin Helen at 333 18th Avenue—an address burned into my brain from childhood. I idly wonder if my cousin, when going through her mother's things in that same apartment 50 years later found a letter from me dated August 1962, surely some years before she herself could read.