It had to happen, I suppose. For months I’ve had 20 25 35 a few tabs open in Chrome. Not always the same tabs. I open and close a lot of tabs, but about half of them have been open for a long time. Some I use frequently—every few minutes or hours. Some daily. Some I just don’t want to forget about, but I don’t look at them very often because I’m too busy checking my Facebook or writing blog posts. I don’t think it’s a big deal, but my kids treat me like I’ve got some kind of mental illness because of the number of tabs I keep open.
A typical conversation goes something like this:
Child (age 29 or 22), whom I gave birth to in a haze of pain and blood and loud swearing: Mom, why do you have so many tabs open? You have to close some of these! Your computer is so slow it barely moves.
Me: There aren’t that many tabs open. Just do what you need to do and get off my computer. I don’t want you to find my porn.
Child: Your computer is running so slow we can’t run this video. I’m going to close some of these. Do you know you’ve got 34 tabs open?
Me: Do not close any of those tabs. I need those tabs. I want those tabs to stay open. I won’t be able to find them again.
Child: Your computer would run so much faster if you’d close some of these tabs.
Me: My computer is geriatric. It’s so old I can’t even remember when I bought it, but I know it was at least five years ago. That’s 164 in human years. Of course it’s slow. The tabs are fine. Leave them alone, please.
Child: The problem is the tabs, not the computer. I’m going to close some.
Me: I SAID DO NOT CLOSE MY TABS. Those are my tabs. Sometimes you’re just like your father. He used to count the number of cans of tuna in the pantry because he thought I bought tuna every time I went to the store.
Child: Why don’t you just bookmark them so you can come back to them later?
Me: I have bookmarks. Once I bookmark them though it’s like they’ve gone into a black hole. I never look at them again. If they’re open, I’m reminded to read them. Also I have to check my Facebook and my email and Pinterest.
Child: You’re like someone on an episode of Hoarders. You collect all the tabs, and you can’t throw any of them away.
Me: I am not like those people. Those people have mouse poop in their carpets, and they walk on piles of pizza boxes and old newspapers. These are tabs, not 30 years of Good Housekeeping. Just get off my computer if you don’t like my tabs.
Child: I’m going to try your laptop. I can’t even get this youtube video to load because of all these tabs using up the RAM.
Me: Fine. Just don’t close my tabs.
Child, after opening laptop: I don’t believe this. You’ve got 23 tabs open on your laptop!
Me: They’re different from the ones on my desktop. Well, some are the same, like Facebook and Pinterest and my emails. But most of them are different.
Child: This is insane. You’ve got a problem, Mom. You’re like a crazy cat lady.
Me: I don’t even have a cat! Not one!
Child: No, but you’ve got about 60 tabs open between these two computers. Your computer would run so much faster if you just closed some of these.
Me: No, it wouldn’t. That’s what browsers are for. To keep your tabs. Besides my laptop is just as old as my desktop. They do the best they can, poor things.
Child: Mom, this is serious. You need help.
Me: A friend said he could do some work on my computers so they don’t run so slow. He said they would be like new again.
Child, slowly, as if speaking to a child: Mom, if you’d close some of these many tabs, your computer would run just fine. Me: You aren’t the boss of me.
Child, under his or her breath: Hoarder.
Me: I heard that!
Child: Tell it to your cats.
Last night, Chrome crashed and didn’t retrieve my tabs when I reopened it. The height of disloyalty. I lost all my tabs, except the ones on the toolbar. Some were really important, and I now can’t remember what they were.
I was going to write about some of those articles eventually. Or sign up to take a certificate class in Excel. Or learn a song for karaoke. Or listen to a Ted Talk.
It’s like a library burned down. An entire Alexandrian library of tabs.
But don’t worry about me. I’ve already opened a dozen tabs, and I’m sure I’ll find more soon. I do mourn the loss of those other tabs though. They were like family—family who didn’t mock me for having too many tabs open.
Carol Narigon teaches creative writing at Stivers School for the Arts. When she’s not bending young minds to her will, she can be found writing on her blog, cycling along the bike paths, or hanging out with her granddaughter Coraline. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.