A river surrounded by fields and trees.

The day my laptop died

Image description: A river surrounded by fields and trees.

I woke up as I would’ve normally, spooning myself a bowl of yogurt and granola as I clicked open my laptop to an infinitely black screen. This morning, the screen remained unchanged for far too long. My granola grew soggy as I clicked and held buttons in a desperate attempt to curtail the black hole that is a machine which has given up. I find it ironic how quickly one’s livelihood can turn into a mere hunk of scrap metal. This is what I pondered while lying defeatedly in bed after hours of making close friends with IT. There was simply little else to do but reflect upon all that I couldn’t do:

When your computer decides to shut down two weeks before your dissertation due date, you will likely sob a bit before your friend forces you to go on a walk and see that it is, in fact, summer outside. Your dad will tell you that files are just “things”, and you will try to make amends with what he optimistically deems “a great purge.” Your mom, on the other hand, will remind you that you should’ve been using Google docs. She was never one for philosophical takes.

You will learn to do everything on a phone as outdated as the laptop that has now passed. It will crash many times before you accept that files are not its strong suit. Luckily, in this story, you study English and just bought a green spotted notebook for two pounds thinking you’d probably never write in it. Today will be its lucky day. You will buy an erasable pen because its use is most similar to typing and deleting, and sit in a café with a pile of novels in order to feel quaint. When you step outside, you will be reminded that a departed laptop is not the end of the world. When a drop of coffee inflates across your journal page, you will nearly change your mind.

The sun will hang low in the sky like a pendant and the air will smell of grilled meat and wet soil.

You don’t remember when you decided to start rowing, but you did – and you have a race today at an oddly specific time in the afternoon. You will tell yourself to row for the diseased laptop because you are angry at it for being dead and leaving behind time for this race. When you get to the start line, you will forget both the computer and how to breath. Your arms will go delightfully numb, followed by your legs. With 20 strokes left, you will remember to exhale, and the sweat will roll down your chest like honey as you watch the spectators mouth cheers that never sound out. Your college mom will tap you on the shoulder and ask if you’d like to go swimming that evening. You will say yes in order to watch a sun which will set and return in the morning.

You will talk on the walk over to the meadows, but you don’t know what you’re talking about. Your friend will ask if you are doing okay, and you will tell her that your laptop passed away and that you have nothing to do but write in erasable pen and swim in cold water. She will laugh. You will also laugh. The sun will hang low in the sky like a pendant and the air will smell of grilled meat and wet soil.

You will tuck your laptop on a high shelf, where scrap metal belongs.

The water will be cold at first, so you’ll wade into it slowly, staying weary of the pebbles that reach between your toes. You’ll not put your head under, although the tips of your hair will curl in different directions as they dry. You’ll wait for your friend to propose getting out. By this time, you will be hungry. You’ll decide that you are glad you came when you get a perfect bite of camembert and bread. Your friend will let you play music, so you’ll play the song you’ve just discovered. You’ll remember why you kept it.

The sun will begin to set later than expected. On a bank you pass, a rowdy group will be playing bad electronic music that you may have enjoyed if you had decided to drink tonight. You will not drink tonight. You will return to your room with its chamomile tea and fairy lights, filled with the air of summer winds neither warm nor cool. You will tuck your laptop on a high shelf, where scrap metal belongs, and warm to the brush of pages against your thumbs and stray ink on your palms. Without your laptop, you will fall asleep to thoughts of things within grasp: coffee and erasable pens; boats, camembert, and songs. Green notebooks with pages to be filled.

Image credit: Sonia Richter