I am typing this morning on a rose-gold laptop, meant to be unboxed ritualistically with Solstice.
But when my husband arrived home last night with the new purchase, I took it in my arms and said:
“Where is my old computer?”
Stunned, he said nothing at first, and then sensing my distress, replied: “They told me that it was on its last legs.”
He then proceeded to list all its ailments; of which, I was intimately aware.
Still, upon grasping this finality, I sat down on the stairs, with the box on my lap, and surprised us both.
I cried. I cried out loud as I had (or had wanted to) once when I watched from the curb outside our apartment as the tow truck pulled away with my friend.
That silver Mercury Lynx, a relatively unattractive car, without a single upgrade, did its best to transport me and my belongings to college and back home on weekends and vacations; and soon after, between homes with my younger siblings after our parents’ marriage came to a reckless end.
Sometimes I drove them to school, or to birthday parties, or to Easter egg hunts or out Trick or Treating. Later, when addiction split the 8 of us in half between parents, the Lynx provided for long-awaited reunions and adventures, near and far–the beach, the boardwalk, the Chinese restaurant, the pizza parlor, the historical village, the science center, the art museum, the zoo, the ballpark, the Berkshires.
That car accompanied me on solo trips too, riding the ferry across the Delaware Bay where my great-grandparents lived, and years later it brought me back to sit with my Nana in the hospital in her final days. (Or maybe that was the Honda.)
That little lemon of a vehicle from Ford took Casey and me across the country and back during our first winter together, spent in the Rockies, and the next winter, it went with me to my first teaching job; while long before that, it traversed the island and over to the mainland with friends on roadtrips to the mall or to concerts or back and forth to the waterside restaurant that I’d managed in the summertime.
I’d sobbed inside that car, after hours, to and from the restaurant in early July my first love proposed to another.
I sang at the top of lungs, “Somewhere over the rainbow,” on my drive home after graduation to which my mother, inebriated, never arrived.
I talked myself through difficulties and decisions; and from time to time, I thought about veering off my path to head somewhere unknown without telling a soul.
Despite the sputtering of its faulty carburetor, I learned to drive in that car with its manual transmission, and it became a part of me and my agency, of who I was, and who I wanted to be.
I can still see the Kermit the Frog decal on my back window on the morning my little brother helped me attach it. I can hear my little sister begging for some of my pizza goldfish from the back seat. I remember the tin of cookies between Casey and me that were baked for our two-thousand-mile journey to the Rockies, but which we opened before we’d left town. There was the cassette tape that I made for that trip, introducing him, to his dismay, to my childhood icon, John Denver, whom by the drive home, several months later, he loved too.
I began wearing glasses in that car, just at night.
Casey crossed the room and took a seat beside me on the stairs and patted my back as I wept.
“I started my book on that computer,” I said, and with that added realization, I cried even harder, leaving him a bit perplexed about the absence of joy given the expensive purchase on my lap, or maybe he understood completely, having loved me for so long.
Sometimes I wonder if I’m more attached to places and things than I am to people. Most of my photos, even the ones that I took when I was a youthful traveler, are of light and angles and objects, rather than familiar faces.
Maybe the experience of so much loss, so young, made me withdraw from the transient nature of human relationships.
“This new computer is a stranger,” I said, putting the box down beside me so that I could tuck my head under the railing of the stairs and lean my head against the wall while tears trickled down my cheeks.
I find myself there often of late, under the railing, shrinking life’s uncertainties I suppose, as I open into all the unknowns, no longer needing to be strong or clear or directed in this empty nest of ours.
I’ve felt deeply into this emptiness since August. I’ve grieved and been ill and wondered what the point–of me–was.
My entire life has been defined by care. In large part because I was born female. And because I was born the oldest. And because everything around me fell apart and someone needed to pay attention. And finally, because I chose occupations and careers that centered around the capacities cultivated in the face of tragedy and loss.
Even yesterday, while skating alone out across the frozen Retreat Meadows, I watched to be sure another skater returned from beyond the grassy mounds before I took another pass myself.
And still, I sense that I’ve reached some turning point, some great letting go, some tentative acceptance of an invitation–to lift my head out from under the railing and claim the space which was always meant to be mine.
This costly, rose-gold laptop is a necessity, I tell myself, much like a car. It’s how I get to work and back (even if I earn less now than I did when I was in school.)
My very first laptop was delivered much like this one, at the door, but unexpectedly so by a friend who had refurbished it, and thrusting into my arms, said:
“You’re a writer. Write.”
I left the classroom to do just that.
But Writing and I began our affair, decades earlier, just after my first year at college when my family fell apart, and I needed someone to turn toward too.
In journal after journal, I wrote to myself or to some larger aspect of myself, or to consciousness itself–through college and backpacking across Europe, to marriage and moving to Vermont, to becoming a mother and leaving the classroom.
Together we transcended relationships, locations, identities, vehicles, and even computers.
At first by accident, and then tentatively, I began submitting articles and essays until I felt the stirrings of a book.
“What will I write about?” I asked Casey. And in the absence of subject, and so ever-practical (and ever-so prematurely), I investigated the ins and outs of publishing, which pointed me toward something called “a platform,” ie. Facebook, Twitter, and blogging which fortunately or unfortunately better suited my need for self-direction until I was no longer submitting, in favor of writing what I wanted, when I wanted, in live-partnership with readers, ie. fellow soul seekers (but without a paycheck.)
You could say I’ve wasted many years here on Facebook, a decade, in fact, come 2019.
Or you could say that I’ve honed my voice and found new avenues of full-hearted participation.
Though I haven’t attempted to publish, I have written through three memoirs since that nascent stirring. The first in a single summer. The second during a school year. (Both shelved until my capacity for the craft matched my vision.) The third, written through again and again, over the course of what is now several years—the lifespan of a laptop that has lived past its time.
“They called it vintage,” Casey said, explaining how it wasn’t worth repair.
Earlier this month, he drove me to the sea, and there, at the hour of my birth, the largest or deepest essence of my book was revealed, like the small, but solid figure at the center of a set of nesting dolls.
“The beings that were un-manifest want to help,” an intuitive said just yesterday of the babies that I miscarried long ago.
And for the first time, since holding my newborn son in my arms, I felt the grief of those losses return, and something else–the gift of reconnection–and the space to occupy it.
And now, I discover that I have christened this laptop along with whoever is inclined to read something this long in the season with so much to do.
May this rose-gold light shine the way forward with all the accoutrements that accompany success.
Greedily, or better yet, full-heartedly, I want Everything—meaning, purpose, healing, publication, outreach, travel, income and wellbeing.
Thank you to each set of eyes and each heart and mind that helped me better understand my place in what amounts to a decade of live-journaling in this shared constellation of LOVE. Your light nourishes my own.
May your wishes rise in the dark in the certain embrace of Light’s return.
May it be so.