I’m breaking in a new computer and the smooth functionality feels so wrong, a betrayal to the machine I bought eleven years ago after living on cereal for a few weeks. Bowl after bowl of crunchy corn flakes does not a well balanced diet make. Fancy past me even splurged on a laptop bag with a red velvety interior for extra protection as we rode the subway to meetings in loud cafes with tiny tables and massive muffins.
My 11-year-old laptop still works. Slowly. It works for my purposes. I turn it on and in 5 minutes it’s ready for action. Now it’s sitting cold on the dining table where I work. The old beside the new as I delay transferring files or backing them up. Once I close the lid it may never show an image again. The hinges broke 5 years ago and with them the display connection loosened and portability became a two-person event. One of us moves the stack of books needed to support the open screen while the other gently lifts the aging laptop, careful to hold the screen at just the right downward angle. Forget traveling with it.
Most keys stick. None of the arrow keys work. The volume button is like one of those false drawers by the kitchen sink. Most of the letter characters on the keyboard are gone; I don’t type lightly.
The letters I use the most, according to the blank keys:
A E W T I O S H L C N M B R U D V
The Q Y P F G J Z X are only partially faded.
Beside the keyboard is a little pink sticker of a porcupine holding a heart. I found this sticker stuck to the seat of my pants after a day with my nieces and taped it where I’d see it all the time every day. Beside the porcupine is an old cutout of a Wonder Woman comic there so long I forget why. The tape over these stickers is sort of melded over the plastic. With tweezers I’m slowly working them off, trying to keep them whole.
The battery and left click on the touch pad are also false drawers. The battery is moot anyway considering the computer cannot be moved without choreography and props. Figuring out workarounds for each new development in my laptop’s failing health, rather than shopping for a replacement or expensive repairs, revived stubborn habits created in my scrappy student days and refined over years without health insurance. Who needs a doctor when you have a cabinet full of healing herbs and spices? Not me. Poultice anyone?
My old laptop features excellent security. There’s much to be said for being the only person who knows the amount of pressure and angle of cord needed to turn it on. Robbers may break in but they won’t be able to check their email. Not on my computer. And they probably wouldn’t steal it to boot.
I’m attached to the old and smitten with the new. We’re in a love triangle minus the drama, love and smoldering looks. We’re a triangle. Soon Raj will get tired of me squishing next to him at dinner and old reliable-for-my-purposes will have to go or be moved to the backroom just in case the new one breaks or I suddenly have need of two. Two sounds nice. Lots of people have two cars, two homes, two kids. Why can’t I have two computers? The senior isn’t taking up much space. Soon it’ll be vintage…
For now, both have a strip of pink post-it paper taped over the camera because nobody’s going to Ratter me (fun movie, by the way). The old one holds photos and documents from the last eleven years of my life. The new one isn’t cloaked in dust because I can close the screen.
Change is good. Changing the tilt of the screen is incredible. It took me but a second to write this sentence though it includes all my favorite sticky, worn away letters.
Happy new year. Cheers to the old year.