So…my laptop is starting it’s inevitable death ritual: crawling out into a desolate place, curling up in the sun beside the busted up remains of laptops before it, silently waiting for it all to end now and that last little light to just—boop—go out.
It makes me a little sad.
My laptop’s a 6 and a half year old Macbook Pro that I got when I was about to graduate high school. At the time it was already a year old, so it wasn’t completely new when I got it, but I swear, that thing, when I first unpacked it, ran like a dream and then some. All I’d ever had up until that point were low end PCs that weren’t even mine, abandoned, nondescript monstrosities I took over when no one else cared to use them, ones that struggled with the most simple processes and halted, screechingly, at anything more.
That laptop was a completely new experience for me: it was reliable, friendly—and as I was moving into my next stage of life, that new experience came with me, shifting from new to familiar as time went on, becoming an anchor point for me.
When I was writing my senior thesis in college, I used a couple of books to base my argument around; one of the books I used was Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. It’s the story of a boy and his father walking a derelict American road, trying to survive the day to day struggle that comes after the end of the world. It’s simple, in thought, in sentence structure, and in narrative. Much of the emotional resonance that comes out of it is through how simply it is written, through how simply the world has come to be when survival is all there is.
There’s a scene in the book when the man and the boy come across the man’s childhood home and, through the use of things and objects, the man recalls his entire life.
“They slipped out of their backpacks and left them on the terrace and kicked their way through the trash on the porch and pushed into the kitchen. The boy held on to his hand. All much as he’d remembered it. The rooms empty. In the small room off the dining room there was a bare iron cot, a metal folding table. The same cast iron coal grate in the small fireplace. The pine paneling was gone from the walls leaving just the furring strips. He stood there. He felt with his thumb in the painted wood of the mantle the pinholes from tacks that had held stockings forty years ago. This is where we used to have Christmas when I was a boy. He turned and looked out at the waste of the yard. A tangle of dead lilac. The shape of a hedge. On cold winter nights when the electricity was out in a storm we would sit at the fire here, me and my sisters, doing our homework. The boy watched him. Watched shapes claiming him he could not see. We should go, Papa, he said. Yes, the man said. But he didn’t.”
It sounds a little strange, but I do a similar thing in regards to objects and things.
I’m a year out of college, five years out from high school, and most everything from five years ago—friends, experiences, places, things—has been gone from my life, moved on elsewhere, in favor of something new. And while the majority of the people, the majority of those experiences, I really don’t mind being gone from my life, there’s a tendency we have to latch on to what’s behind us, because, at one point—that’s all we knew. It was all we cared about, all we thought about and poured into, and to see the past go sees a part of us leaving in favor of the unfamiliar and new.
My laptop is the last thing left from five years ago me. It’s been through a lot, it’s seen a lot, and letting it go feels almost like I’m snuffing out an immature, younger me to make way for something new. And it’s scary.
Now, logically speaking, I’ve been moving forward since I graduated. I didn’t clamp onto the same groups of people. I didn’t run away from growing up. I refined who I was to become someone I’m much prouder to be (though, still, of course, far from perfect, but hey—baby steps). But we all, at some point, wax nostalgic about what came before; that’s what McCarthy was saying.
Human beings, often times, are too connected to “things.” We identify our self worth by the height of our ceilings, our general success by the cars we drive, when, in the end, it doesn’t matter. McCarthy wrote that, wrote The Road in general, to illustrate that what we need is simple—everything else is superfluous—and one day those things will be gone, over, broken and decayed, and all that will be left are the simple little things that we’ve been neglecting all along.
Losing my laptop is hard, but it makes way for something new—that’s the way it should go.