Kait Wilbur
April 09, 2015 1:18 pm

Dear Laptop,

Remember when I first saw you, when I was twelve and it was Christmas morning? We were both so young. Your shiny, teal cover resembled rushing tropical waters, and its luster clashed with the Crayola box Christmas green everywhere else underneath the tree, but to me the combination was beautiful, if in an avant-garde way. (Okay, actually I was just excited to play computer games without having to share with my sister.)

You’ve been with me through all of the big moments, laptop. Remember when I got a Twitter account? Oh my goodness, was I cool. Finally celebrities and I were on a level playing field. Any joke that I would craft in my mind was presented to the entire world, so long as it was 140 characters or less. Until then, I was proud to tweet my best friend about what had just happened on Nickelodeon shows.

We didn’t stop at Twitter though, laptop. Remember my YouTube channel? Every weekend my best friends would spend the night and we’d empty our underdeveloped ideas that made us giggle anyway into your webcam eye, or I’d come home with hours of footage of my classmates taking on characters of our own, and you would help us edit them together. You were such a wonderful helper. You fostered our creativity. Now, we could share it with the friends we couldn’t see all the time. When my best friend moved an hour away, we shared the videos and we still knew each other, what was going on inside of ourselves, where it was the most important. Thank you for keeping her near me.

And remember when I discovered riot grrrl? Goodness, your poor speakers were pumped at full blast. Carrie Brownstein’s riffs burrowed into a tunnel directly between any guitar and my restless soul, and Kathleen Hanna screamed things that she meant and I knew, but I never had the courage to even say. Your storage drive, once full of celebrity baby pictures and love letters to boys who embarrassed me and made me feel smaller in the end, now brimmed with ideas for stories and songs and over-articulated opinions. They weren’t much, but they were me becoming a woman. This was a new age for you and I, and I couldn’t have done any self-discovery without you.

Speaking of boys and trouble, remember when I left him? Almost immediately, my tears ran gently down your screen, and brownie crumbs and sticky root beer stains wedged themselves between your F and G keys with more time. Your hard drive, like my heart, felt emptier without him. But soon after, both were replaced by loyal friends and genuine family, ideas and thoughts and emotion-filled documents. Netflix nights replaced days of discomfort. Now, I had my choice to do anything in the world, and I chose watching the whole series of 30 Rock, communicating with friendly presences who liked the bands and TV shows I liked on Tumblr, and eating. I ate so much. And I’m sure you did too, with everything I dropped on you.

Dropping. Remember when I dropped you? I’m so sorry. I was exhausted. My heart wasn’t present, it was far too busy contemplating if I loved or was capable of loving anyone at all, and my head was ready to shut down for sleep. I reached for my glass of sweet tea and down you went, onto my hardwood floor. “What was that?” my father yelled. He said it sounded expensive, and he was right. From then on, you started shutting down all the time. When too many programs ran and my life was chaotic, your battery died. When there was too much heat and I covered myself with blankets galore to keep the world out, your battery died. I tried to fix you each time, but this was the beginning of the end.

I remember when you left me. It was an October day, and I was ready to write a script for a video project for history class that somehow intertwined Alice in Wonderland with the events leading up to World War I. It was starting to get cold, so two of my best friends and I drank some hot chocolate and stared out my window, anticipating the future. I retrieved you from my case, but you just wouldn’t wake up. I took your battery out like I had before, but it didn’t do any good. You fed words onto your screen, security breaches and error messages I’d never seen before. It felt blasphemous, and I knew you had been hurt. My dad gave me the news that you had gone for good. I knew there were things I could’ve done better. I shouldn’t have dropped you, and I shouldn’t have let Bitdefender expire.

Those who grew up being able to use a computer, like me, are often criticized for letting the machine ride them instead of riding the machine, in terms of Henry David Thoreau. In our defense, we’re teenagers. Every generation was obnoxious as teenagers. Everyone was vain before selfies and everyone thought their political views were more important than others before the comments section. Most things we hear about those my age and technology are said so condescendingly. My laptop was a friend to me like any toy I’d ever had, except its use grew and changed with me. It held my past, my present, and my future.

So thank you, Dell with a hard teal case and an eventual chip out of it. Rest in peace.

(Image via.)

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