Last Wednesday night, my boyfriend, Jake, woke me up from a nap. His voice floated through the phone with something that was not quite excitement. “Did you see who died?” he asked.
“What … ” I was still groggy. Rolling over, I flicked my fingers down the touchpad of my MacBook Pro and skimmed through my unread emails. I gasped. “Oh my God.”
“Everyone’s talking about it,” he said. “Twitter shut down.”
Suddenly I was acutely aware that I was lying next to the creation of a man who was done creating. I fought the strange urge to grieve. I felt like, maybe, if I closed my eyes and focused, I would feel the world changing.
Go on. You can laugh.
But the fact remains that in the 24 hours after his passing, #RIPstevejobs and #isad hovered on the list of trending hashtags, and in that same time frame, the CEO was compared to Edison, to Einstein, to Newton, and to God.
For a while after Jake hung up, I grappled with an influx of Apple memories.
My family acquired our first Apple product when I was in second grade. One solid block of lime green and translucent gray, it looked like an artifact from the future, especially perched next to our paisley couch. The IT woman from my elementary school made money on the side setting up home computers for ignorant parents and she worked her magic at our house too. When I came home from school that day, there it was in all its enigmatic glory. I think I screamed.
For me and my siblings, that Macintosh became a tool of creation. We spent hours on end swirling the hockey-puck mouse around the mouse pad, dumping paint can after paint can of ghastly patterns onto Kidpix masterpieces. We worked our way through exotic CD-ROM adventures with the Cluefinders and Putt-Putt, the car of questionable gender. During the eight years that we had that computer, it was never connected to the Internet, but it didn’t need to be. We had too many of our own stories to tell.
This was all happening around the time that Apple released their “Think Different” campaign. Over black-and-white videos of Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., John Lennon and Jim Henson, a voiceover proclaimed, “Here’s to the crazy ones … ” And even at 10 years old, I remember thinking, Yes. Pick me. I am crazy too.
The fifth-generation iPod came out the fall of my freshman year of high school. I remember this because one of my friends was listening to his older iPod after class while we were studying. “So, you gonna get the new one?” I asked. Everyone was talking about the release because the iPod would finally have video capabilities and would be available for the first time in black.
“Why would I get the new one?” he said, pulling back his headphones. “I have a better one. I have the original.”
Back then I was too surprised that he’d kept something unbroken for four whole years to process anything else, but I’m pretty sure that’s the last time anyone I knew took pride in an old Apple product.
If Jake hadn’t called me about Steve Jobs last Wednesday, he would have emailed me, and the last line of his note would have quietly and undeniably stated, “Sent from my iPad.”
I get these notes all the time:
Going to the grocery store. Want anything? Sent from my iPad.
Just finished my run! Hooray! Sent from my iPad.
Good night, babe. Love you. Sent from my iPad.
We’ve got a pretty good threesome, Jake, the iPad and me. When Jake and I don’t know how to get somewhere, we pull up Google maps on his iPad. When we can’t decide what to eat, we spin UrbanSpoon on his iPad. When we bicker about obscure pop culture references, we settle the score with his iPad.
Once while he was driving, he said to me, “Did you know that cab drivers’ brains are starting to change?”
I asked him what he meant.
“With GPS,” he said. “They don’t have to problem-solve anymore.”
“That seems like a loss,” I said, while I searched for an article about it on the iPad.
But in August, something happened. We were road-tripping up to Maine, he driving, I navigating, when we lost the 3G signal. Neither of us had been to Maine before, and it was getting dark.
We both panicked for a moment.
Then we fished out the road map that was stashed in the glove compartment, flattened out the crisp folds, figured out where we were and where we were headed, and we kept driving.