If a pet is really sick we’re allowed to be sad. We’re allowed to remember all the good times without people telling us not to be silly. To just buy a new kitten and move on. I don’t see why computers should be any different.
I remember when you arrived. I came home from an exam to find your little box huddled against the door step. I ran inside and, lifting you from the packaging, turned you on for the very first time. The Dell start-up programme asked me if I knew what I wanted to call you and I panicked because I hadn’t really thought about it. I texted my brother and asked what he thought you should be called. He replied quickly with one word- Otis.
You were my first computer. All mine. A present for my 18th birthday. I spent months researching and carefully choosing. I picked you because you were everything I wanted- a 10 inch Dell notebook. The site promised that your keyboard would be almost regular size, you only weighed a kilogram and you could last hours and hours without being plugged in. When you arrived you were all that. And you were beautiful.
When my family and I went to Europe after I finished the HSC, you came too. I carried you on planes and through airport security in 5 different countries. You bounced across cobbled streets and up hundreds of stairs to dingy apartments. We journeyed to countless Irish pubs in search of working Wifi. Late one night, in an apartment in London, you helped me get my HSC results. Sitting on a train, travelling at almost 300 km an hour between Barcelona and Seville, I created a Word document and typed the first few words of what has become (over the course of many more train trips) a fifty thousand word…thing.
During my gap year, you helped me send emails in desperate search of purpose. I carried you back and forth from the GNW offices, lugging you through sodden Sydney streets and across parks. You slept in the office one night while I went to see comedy and Ian laughed when I said you had a name. We went to Melbourne together and I sat in the worst McDonalds in the world (Swanson St) and got maple syrup in your keyboard while I wrote a blog.
When I started university and was lonely and homesick, it was you that kept me company. When I was sick, and far away from home, we curled up in bed and watched Doctor Who all day with the curtains closed. When I moved house and was without TV or internet for a week, you grudgingly allowed me to make Dungeons and Dragons characters and watch Flight of the Concords in bed.
I’ve defended you, tooth and nail, against all those people who said you were silly. Who didn’t understand that “tiny” is all I need. They didn’t appreciate that you have gallantly attempted everything I’ve ever asked of you. You’re light and portable. You don’t demand space. In a marathon, your battery life would have once beaten even the computer which will come after you. Once, on another train, we watched eleven and a half episodes of 30 Rock before your battery died. No one can deny that’s impressive.
We’ve had good times together, Otis. And even though, in the last few months, you’ve been getting slow and senile, I’ve humoured you. I didn’t mind when you were laggy or glitchy. You’re old in computer years. I knew our days together were numbers but I’ve been denying it.
This week I tried to close your lid, expecting that satisfying little snapping sound you make. Instead I was greeted with a very different kind of snap- the painful crunch of plastic shattering. Like breaking bones. Your right hinge is now a mess of black plastic. I can see a sliver of the green and gold which is your insides. I realised that you’d never close again. Which meant that you, dear Otis, will never again leave this house. You can’t come to uni with me. Or on trains. There will be no more excitement, adventure or really wild things.
On Friday you experienced the blue screen of death three times in an hour. The complex you have about an imaginary USB device that needs installing, reached such levels that I was forced to mute your sound at risk of being sent mad by the constant beeps of notification. When I told Alex, he suggested that maybe you have cancer.
There is a very real chance that this is the last blog I’ll ever write on your keyboard. All the half-finished posts I have saved will be finished on another computer. Another computer which is right now jetting its way toward me. I couldn’t buy another one like you. They don’t make them anymore. So my new computer will be different and strange.
And I know I’ll come to love it too. That it will develop the personality which you have. But I’m still sad to say goodbye. And I don’t think that’s silly at all.