For some reason I’ve held on to my Dell laptop for almost ten years now. It has been through a lot. At one point, the hard drive died and I temporarily lost everything I had ever written. A few years later, my backup drive died and I officially lost everything I had ever written.
That was the day an entire writing life vanished. I spent a few weeks in denial. Technically, the work still existed. I just couldn’t retrieve it. When it hit me that was a problem, I did not panic. I actually became completely zen about the whole thing. I thought, It doesn’t matter. Maybe all that work was meant to be a secret anyway.
Over a year ago, I dropped the laptop and a screw disappeared. Apparently, the screw was important because the laptop screen managed to detach itself from the keyboard. Somehow, and I do not, for the life of me, know how this is possible: it still worked. And, so, I went about my days, using hefty books to lift up the flopping screen, moving the laptop around the apartment, trying to figure out which wall would work best for me to prop it up on, so I could continue with my work.
“How do you work like that?” Tyler asked.
“I don’t know. It’s not a big deal.”
After working like that for about a year, I was walking through my neighborhood and saw a Grand Opening flag and a sign that read: We Fix Computers. So I walked into a nearly empty room which had just one folding chair, a desk, and a few empty bookshelves. I walked up to a young man, his dark hair sticking up every which way, huge wire-framed glasses that took over his face and I asked, “Do you fix computers?” And he said, “Yes. We fix computers.”
So I gave him my computer, shook his hand, found out his name is Ken, and became the first customer at the no-name We Fix Computers store.
Before Ken fixed it, he asked me how quickly I needed it back and whether or not I needed it for work. I shrugged and said, “I don’t really need it. I just write on it.”
Despite the fact that I write things. Despite the fact that I actually write for a living, it did not exactly occur to me to refer to myself that way. “I guess so.”
“If you’re a writer than you must really need this computer.”
Again. Dumbfounded. “I guess so.”
“I’ll order the parts and fix it as fast as I can.”
I see Ken nearly every weekday. Our lives are timed in such a way that when I leave the subway, he heads towards it. And we smile and wave and nod.