It started in middle school during the free hour allotted by my mother for me to roam the internet on our household computer. My hour was the one right after school, my younger brother got the one right after dinner. 

It started with AIM messages to friends, continued conversations from the mere minutes it’d been since I had last seen them. 

Quickly, we each feigned wisdom beyond our pre-teen years –– searching for solutions to social problems created by the angst of our age. That meant, we each soon found online quote gardens. 

There, you could browse for hours and by theme, finding quotes to fit your mood, explain situations, and back up whatever argument you currently were making. 

The Quote Garden’s UX hasn’t changed since pre-2002.

For me, that quote obsession went even further. 

I kept journals of quotes that I liked, writing each word as detailed as possible so as to sear it into my memory. 

Then, I began to underline quotes I liked in my magazines – Teen Vogue and Seventeen. I even started submitting them to those online quote gardens. 

Next, I found myself underlining quotes in my books –– a reminder to come back to this page someday and some place and remember how important these words were. Maybe I’d need their help then, a sort of cookie crumb trail to a solution for a future problem. 

I’ve never gone back and read those quote journals. I’ve never gone back and looked at those underlined quotes. 

But I do continue to underline my books.

I go on quote rampages on Instagram:

  • Love quotes when I am feeling loved
  • Grief quotes when I want to cry
  • Inspirational quotes when I need a strong dose of get up and go,
  • Lazy quotes on rainy day when I’m tired and am looking for support. 

Even in my travels, I find myself photographing quotes in museums and at dead philosopher’s houses. I can’t even count the times I’ve had to delete all the quotes –– which I never go back and read –– to make room on my phone. 

Those quotes, like the poetry and the books they are so often found in, are my millennial connection point.

Convenient and quick taps into the collective mind and mood of the full written history of humanity –– over tears, over smiles, over those good times and those bad. 

Every generation has had its own quote garden. From libraries to Tumblr to Pinterest and beyond –– it matters who said it, of course, but it matters more how you sought it out. 

  • What mood did it allow?
  • What inner voice did it silence? 
  • What part of it weren’t you getting from those near you?

This is a small ode to the online quote gardens of yesterday, and the ones yet to come. May they always lead us toward a route less lonely.