It happened two nights before my final final last semester. Late into the night, in the middle of a penultimate essay spell-check, my laptop paused, sputtered and promptly froze.
“It’s getting dark,” she seemed to say. “Go on without me.”
My first day home during winter break, I took Old Macky Pro to the Mac Store.
“What’s the diagnosis, doc? Is it serious?” I asked Geoff, the employee at the Genius Bar designated to help me.
“It appears the video card is busted. I — I don’t know how to say this, but I fear the worst,” Geoff said.
“Am I still under warranty?” I responded.
“Yes,” Geoff said.
He took my laptop and gave me a receipt of confirmation.
“We’ll do the best we can. For now, let’s put her to sleep.”
I let out a silent cry, but by then Geoff was helping the next person in line, a portly man whose iPod was water-damaged.
I slowly walked out of the store, glancing sadly at the other customers, everyone excitedly checking out newer MacBooks, their young love innocent and naive and in Snow Leopard. My sweetheart was shutting down, but all around me love was in the Macbook Air. My head was heavy. My heart was empty. My laptop case was significantly lighter.
In the days that followed, I would check my e-mail on the family’s computer, but it just wasn’t the same. I missed my old friend’s bookmarks, her system preferences, the tracking speed of her mouse. I could still remember the first time we browsed on Firefox together; I held back tears as I realized in shame that we hadn’t even downloaded Chrome yet.
Without access to my laptop while I was home, I spent more time doing other things. I read two books. I went on hikes with friends. I spent time with my family. It was awful.
Geoff called the next week; they had received a new video card shipment, and a transplant would be performed the following day. If the transplant wasn’t successful, she could lose not only her files, but her memory. I barely slept that night.
“I should’ve treated her better,” I exclaimed in misery. “I never cleaned the desktop. I bought her Pages, but for some reason I kept on using Word. And I definitely could’ve calibrated her battery more often.”
I walked into the Mac Store the next day filled with fear. It was like that scene in “The Blind Side” where Sandra Bullock’s character is about to discover the fate of her close friend. I don’t know if that analogy makes sense, I didn’t actually see “The Blind Side.” But it’s nominated for Best Picture. Best Picture! “Big Fish,” one of the best films of the past decade, wasn’t even nominated for Best Picture! And “The Blind Side” was!
Anyway, my laptop made it! I wanted to hug Geoff, but he wasn’t working that day. Bryane let me turn my laptop on and check to make sure everything was all right. The cluttered desktop stared up at me, as if to say, “I’m here, baby.”
As I put my laptop in its case, everyone in the store began to clap slowly. The applause escalated. I looked around and realized I knew everyone there: my parents, my friends from high school, my eccentric high school teacher, the cab driver who told me really good advice my first year of college, my brothers, my love interests, my dead relatives. The score “Finale” by Danny Elfman began to play. My laptop turned into a fish.
I got home and spent the following four hours checking e-mail and reading independent film blogs.