Monday, March 22, 2010

LOST

No, this is not about that show you all love.
(And I'm sure I'd love, too, but we all know I need another show to watch like I need a mouthful of broken teeth).

It's about that feeling when you realize you have totally, eternally lost something.
Not someone, not an intangible or metaphorical kind of loss, but the kind of sinking dread you experience when the truth becomes apparent that you are never going to see/touch/smell/use that THING again.
It is always jarring to me that despite my constant revelations about "what a small world it really is" the world can seem so vast and overwhelming when it contains a lost object.

We have important relationships with objects, especially the ones that become our possessions. They either perform actions, or record our own actions, or are there with us when we make memories, and thus, they become more than just Things.

When I was a kid I was utterly terrified of house fires. My parents had just bought one of those "Safety Ladder" contraptions and placed it in my brother's room, under his Thomas the Tank Engine bed: in the event of a fire, we would all run to his room, unfurl the 10 ft plastic ladder out his window, and then drop from the fiery blaze of our beloved home another twenty feet into a pile of inevitable broken bones. The recent discussions of our Fire Plan had really freaked me out, and so before I fell asleep at night, I would make mental lists of all the things in my room I would try to toss out the window ahead of me, saving them from loss-by-conflagration (a word I did actually know at the time, thanks to my Uncle John).

On this list was, first and foremost, my rainbow-crocheted baby blanket (which, despite my reverence and adoration of it, was not actually made of rainbows, but was simply rainbow colored). Winnie-the-Pooh, my first stuffed animal, who had long since lost his one and only possession (a red shirt) would follow close behind.

As I got older, the list morphed. There were more things I simply could not imagine living without.

Pooh was released in favor of adding hefty photo albums. Then, spiral-bound journals, autographs from celebrities, and my cell phone. Next, notes from my boyfriend, my passport, my grandmother's pearls, and a few precious books.

Now, if I had to think about it, I'd probably have to say most of my boots, my Michael Kors handbag, and my laptop.

Which brings me to my main point: it didn't take a house fire, but my laptop is gone.

After that start-up incident last week, I didn't panic, but decided to just go with it and take the outcome as it was handed to me. The guys at the Apple Genius Bar were very friendly and helpful (though not as sympathetic when I admitted I didn't have everything backed up). I expressed my loyalty to Apple products, and my frustration that this is the second Mac laptop I've had that's crashed, and this one wasn't even three years old. I am a stock holder, and a devoted user, and despite my frustrations, would likely buy another Macbook.

Alex, the guy behind the Genius Bar, did his best, but deemed it a crashed hard drive. All data declared gone. I still didn't panic, but rationalized calmly that most of my music was on my iPod, photos on Facebook, all my important documents (undergrad thesis, resume, college journal) were in my Gmail Inbox or on a thumb drive, as well as my study-abroad pictures and important work documents. He was nice enough to replace and install the hard drive for free (something about an Apple Quality Care program? WIN) and then sent me on my way.

It was actually kind of freeing, in a way. When else would I have actually taken the time- and had the guts- to delete all those pictures of me and the ex? What was I saving all those college syllabi for? I didn't need all those things after all, it seemed.

The hard part didn't come until today, when the first actual loss registered:
All photos from my trip to Amman, Jordan in 2008 for a cousin's wedding - gone. Totally, and utterly gone from this good earth.

I never put them on Facebook, because they were mostly of me and family, and never got them onto another drive for whatever reason (stupidity, namely).
It was a fabulous and fun 14 days of parties, celebration, site-seeing, eating, drinking, dancing, laughing and extended family that I will never get to relive through pictures again.

I also, just this minute, came to the flattening realization that a big piece I'd been working on- a raw personal account that was hopefully going to function as the working basis of my first book - was not saved to my thumb drive as I could have sworn it was.

So, we lose things. Sometimes we know where we left them, but still can't get them back: a language dictionary in an airplane seat-back pocket; favorite sunglasses at a restaurant; cell phones in bar bathrooms; countless earrings and contact lenses and softball mitts and Nalgene bottles. Other times, we have "no IDEA where" we could have possibly left them and our houses are "only so big and those keys can only be so many places."

And now with the advent of technology, things that mean the most to us can vanish into thin air.

But you know? I'll take it in stride. I still have my health. And my family. And the ability to re-write that book.

And you know what else?
I've still got Blanky and Pooh.

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