When I was growing up, computers were just starting to be widely available. We had an Apple computer in our dry room in Liberia (the room with air conditioning and no windows to keep things from molding in the edge of the rainforest, one mile from the salty ocean damp). I would sit at it and laboriously type out answers to the questions asked by girls in Sunday schools at churches back in the US. They always wanted to know how the weird missionary girl lived over there in Africa.
"Yes, I like M&Ms. I like the green ones best."
Then we would print out the letter on the dot matrix printer and I could make chains out of the side paper with the little holes in it.
Also, cameras involved film. We still have very few pictures of my little sister as a tiny baby, because the rolls of film got lost in the mail on their way to my grandparents in the US.
The pictures from when I was really little are still those old ones that came in squares, and the color is all a bit yellow.
The first time I remember being recorded on video was in junior high, when my friend and I interviewed my Oma and Pops about their experiences in the Netherlands when it was occupied during World War II.
I never imagined seeing myself on video as a little kid. It just wasn't a thing that was possible, so I never thought about it.
Enter the Dutch relatives.
I know that we US Americans like to think that we are on the cutting edge of technology, but my experience is that the Dutch relatives have us beat every time. They are also way ahead of us in fashion, but I digress.
My mom sent out a video this morning from one of our Dutch relatives that was made for my great-grandparents' 60th wedding anniversary in early 1983. I was three.
Whoever made the video had filmed my Oma and Pops and their kids and grandkids at their house in the Mitten, and suddenly there was a little blonde bob of hair above a red plaid overall dress, mostly ignoring the camera to play. For a split second, when my cousin D. looked up at the camera, three-year-old me turned toward it, too, unsmiling, just looking.
It was the weirdest sensation. I didn't know that little girl was still out there.
I remember being her. I even remember that party in the Netherlands, I think (unless we were at the 65th anniversary - was there a 65th anniversary party?). I remember crowds and stairs and being small among a bunch of Dutch relatives and playing with other kids.
I just never thought I would see her again.
My mom said she cried when she saw it.