My hard drive crashed this week; or last week maybe. I have been without a computer since then; frantically checking e-mail and Facebook when/where I am able to (the zombie voices that just keep calling if not cut back; if not culled), and––
At first, I felt very calm. At first, I might have even…
I told one of my classes yesterday: “I feel as if my house has just burned down around me. All of those memories that were there: all lost. I don’t know why I’m telling you this,” I admitted, and one girl smiled,* and I was glad that she did; because at first I might have even.
It is only now; when they handed it back to me today at the Apple store earlier: I felt the panic setting in. That I again had a computer and was meant to get back to it; to start downloading; to get scrolling and commence buffering; to make with the pinning and the bookmarking.
So I turn this thing on; some Byronic beasty come back to my little apartment to take up precious brooding space on the kitchen table. More like a stranger now, it seems; or like a lover with whom one has quarreled, and I’m not sure why you came back or if I know how to find a way back to you (or if I even want to, is the worst of it; see, I was rather happy this week, I now realize. Without you, when you weren’t here, I would wake up and drink my coffee in silence, and not while half-listening to NPR while checking e-mail, eyeing my bank statements and Google reader; you always seemed to demand too much of my attention, all the time, and I gave it to you, I will admit, because I didn’t think what I really wanted; and I think sometimes I just want to stand in the kitchen in my socks, in silence, and imagine a new world and not the one you are always so insistent upon showing to me; first thing, every morning; god, if you only knew how tiring it can be at times!).
And everyone always asks you, “Well, didn’t you back everything up?” But, no, not everything; not photos or music or files from this past year; this past year: wiped clean. But everyone will always ask you this. But it always felt like there would be more time. (No one ever sees the crash coming…) And even all those files stored on “the cloud” now seem so: uncertain. (I always liked building sandcastles closest to the waterline…)
And isn’t this what I have been wanting, in a way; have been waiting for? To just start over. To be forced to begin again. (With everything seeming so precious now.) Part of me wants to complete it: to go in and to start deleting more files. To delete everything down to one file; then even to that, then.
But here is my confession: when I got home from the, from the store this afternoon, I threw out half a bag of apples that were gathering dust in the fruit bowl. They were not so much bad as I deemed them no longer good. It felt so good to just throw them all out.
Not just sandcastles; what I loved most when I was little, was not the building of Legos, you see; when I would tear them apart with my teeth (is that why I now have this toothsome gap there), it was the taking-apart of the cities; that is what I loved most; that sometimes I think I built them just to un-build them better.
That everything goes and we let it; we hold fast, and then––
That is what I have learned from this. What I am remembering.
*When another student said, “I saw you drinking your coffee and reading your newspaper earlier in the campus center,” and I asked him, “Why didn’t you say hi?”––but he said he was in a rush. And the student who smiled when I told her about the crash, said to him, “I said hi when I saw him this morning;” and she did. But maybe we have forgotten how to; how to recover that.
I love this entry, Rich. I relate so strongly to your sentiments about letting things rest, letting them die even. I love what you say about how happy you were without your computer, how it’s so demanding. I feel that way often about the many different distractions that vie for my attention – and they all seems so shallow compared with real human interactions. I love your writing and am so glad you tend to it like a well-watered garden!
Oh God, I went through this. 5000 photos. It’s a funeral. You have my deepest sympathies.