I’m having an indulgent moment, Bloggos. Bear with me.
My laptop was purchased new in 2008, one of the limited and much coveted Black MacBooks. It was a graduation present from my mother, and I don’t think she realizes just how much I appreciate it, even to this day.
It has been nearly ten years since this computer first came home with me. I remember the wonder and awe as I unboxed it, reveling in its sleek lines and the novelty of the Photobooth function. I remember the frustration as I learned the hard way that Windows PCs and Apple MacBooks were not friends, and I struggled to move my entire virtual life (up to that point) into the smaller, svelter, immeasurably cooler device.
Elwen. That’s what I named her. I now have a habit of naming my electronics after my original characters from video games, a habit that started with this computer. With Elwen; my first ‘named’ device, christened with the first RPG name I ever created. Elwen is Tolkien’s Elvish, meaning “Star-maiden”.
Yeah, yeah. I was in seventh grade and had just read the trilogy for the first time. Come at me.
This laptop has served me diligently for a decade. It followed me through college, twice! I wrote my first stumbling short stories, my first fumbles with fanfic. My ill-fated attempts at screenwriting and poetry. I wrote my first novel on these worn and comfortable keys. And then my second. And the beginnings of a third.
I started this blog from the precipice of this very screen. Elwen carried me across that blinking, blank barrier of WordPress and then to Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr. I carefully, and sometimes not all that carefully, crafted my online persona from the safety of declarative stickers and headphones I thought screamed “this is who I am” when what it really said was, “this is who I want to be”.
There are thousands and thousands of words on this computer. Enough thousands that the prospect of actually counting them all up is beyond daunting. More than six years of academic papers, eight years of short stories and novels. Ten years of life spread out on virtual pages as I grew into the writer and person that I am now.
This computer has seen so much growth. Grief and joy and how I cope with both. Angry tears and happy ones, furious writing sessions and more meals and spills than I care to confess.
Through all of that the battery was replaced once and the operating system reinstalled once. Otherwise, Elwen never stopped on me. Not when I spilled Cabernet Sauvignon on the keyboard while I wrote that six page analysis of a three page short story (Axolotl by Julio Cortazar, I highly recommend it). Not when I abandoned her in the back seat of my car that first winter in Oregon and I learned how damaging freezing temperatures could be to technology. Not when I threatened to replace her with anything I thought might be better.
I’ve spent this last year using two computers because the Windows laptop was terrible. I tried. I tried so hard to convince myself that it was the smart move, the right choice since Elwen could no longer run the best version of Scrivener, or any version if I wanted to browse the web and listen to Spotify at the same time.
It should have been a simple thing, logical. Nine years is a damn good run for any piece of technology. And yet I couldn’t bring myself to say goodbye. When I bought Dragon Age stickers as a bonus gift for myself at Christmas, I could not bear the idea of putting them on the HP. Instead they found their place on either side of Elwen’s trackpad.
And when it came time to really buckle down and hash out the edits and rewrites on The Steel Armada (my first novel), there was no way I could do that strenuous and important work on some unnamed, convenient laptop that we just happened to have. I didn’t care how well it could run multiple programs!
But, ten years is a long time, by almost any measure. For a laptop it might as well be millennia. I knew the time was near. Elwen cannot be upgraded further. No matter what I do, she will never run an operating software that will allow her to open Scrivener 3. No matter how much I upgrade her RAM or her processor, she simply doesn’t have the energy to accompany me on this next step of my journey.
And so I’ve recruited a new companion: Artemis.
Artemis, bought new in 2018, is a gift from my father. I’m not sure my verbal thanks were adequate to express how grateful I am for that. I suspect, in ten years’ time, I’ll write another goodbye, and have many more kind words to share. More gratitude and accomplishments too.
As of yet, I am undecided about whether or not to put stickers on Artemis. It took about five years for me to put the first one on Elwen, so I’m willing to take my time before considering anything lasting.
There are a lot of differences between these two MacBooks. Ten years’ worth of differences. There are new lessons to be learned with Artemis, and lots of experience to share from Elwen. New adventures to be had, and always more stories to tell.
From these worn and comfortable keys, for the last time,