Thanks to my students, I learned that you can set up your unread emails to show up apart from and above your read emails in gmail (why yes, I am late to the party, where should I put my coat?). Having something like 4k+ unread emails in my box that have accrued over the years (primarily because I am both lazy and, on the occasions where I felt like getting rid of them, too damn easily overwhelmed to pick them out from the rest), I decided I should adopt this since it would let me find them easily. Sure enough, two days later, I have no unread emails in my inbox. Woo hoo!
It's not like all of these were important emails, mind you. Lots of them are store mailing lists that I want to stay on because I occasionally find something useful (but often don't). As I was clearing them out, though, it went fine back to 2011, and then jumped precipitously to 2008... and that was suddenly hard. I didn't have a lot of old spammy emails from back then; they were notifications from my son's little league team and knitting meet-ups with friends and stuff sent round to the LARP mailing list and emails from people I was sort of trying to date and stuff from old freelance projects... it was unexpectedly hard to let those pieces of correspondence go. I did, of course; none of it was something I needed to hold on to, nor was it anything worth archiving; they were the useful sort of thing that isn't terribly useful five years down the road. And yet... suddenly my inbox was filled with the names of people I used to see that I don't any more, and likely won't ever again on any sort of regular basis. I miss them, even if I don't say it often, and that missing surfaced hard today.
My inbox is clean now, though.