It’s rare that I can pinpoint the exact moment, location, and circumstances of the first time that I met a particular person, especially when I’m fortunate to meet so many at hectic conferences and events. But Chloe Weil stood out.
I met Chloe for the first time on May 1 2011, outside Walgreens on Boylston Street in Boston. It was a beautiful, warm spring day, and I’d just photographed my favourite cherry blossoms in bloom further down on Newbury Street. I bumped into my friend Petra and she introduced me; Chloe was her co-worker at iSite Design in Portland, Oregon. Petra had convinced Chloe to attend the An Event Apart conference with her and was showing her around. Like most people, the first thing I noticed about Chloe was her unforgettable smile. She really clicked with so many people that week and made instant friendships.
I got to know Chloe a little better over the past few years, but not as well as I wish I had. I did know that we both loved retro swimsuits, weird Japanese Kit Kats, Frye boots, and Cambridge Satchel bags. Hers was red with a “W” embossed on the front. She said we had the same taste in fashion (or “FASHION”, as she put it, as we weren’t exactly into haute coutre). I even got bangs cut for the first time in my life after seeing how beautiful they looked on her.
Chloe helped me surprise Petra when I sent her a delivery of baked goods on her birthday to the iSite office in Portland. I think she was more excited about being in on the silly secret than I was. But my funniest memory of Chloe was when Simon and I went on a gondola ride in Venice. When we posted a photo on Instagram, she immediately jumped to conclusions and asked if we’d gotten engaged, because she’d never known anyone to get out of one of “those things” without doing so. We hadn’t. Awkward, but so sweet. That was Chloe.
For some reason, on Tuesday night before bed, I was browsing through her Instagram photos and giggling at some of the ridiculous puns. Little did I know that she was already gone, and I woke up to the terrible news the next morning.
Today I learned that Chloe had wanted folks to donate to two charities in her memory: The Oregon Humane Society, and The Internet Archive. For those of you who didn’t know her, know that those charities couldn’t have been more appropriate wishes — she loved her cat, FACE, who she found at the OHS, and she was a huge supporter of digital preservation. How sad that we now have to think about preserving her own memories online. I guess she knew we would.
Regardless of what happens to her legacy on the Internet, whether it lives on or disappears, I know I won’t forget that smile.