Archiving a Life: Tao of the New Computer

I recently obtained a new computer.

People buy new computers everyday. This is not significant.

What is important, however, is how much of your existence is “data,” large gigabytes of life, that needs to be managed, removed, filed, and safely transferred to an external storage unit when a new laptop enters your world.

Our computers are the most significant personal device most of us will ever own. It carries our entire lives. Humanity has never utilized this kind of personal data management. We rarely appreciate how our downloads, documents, and itunes libraries creates a living history.

But once you get a new computer, that history has to be appropriately stored, put into the correct folders and moved elsewhere. Hell, it may have to be zip filed. You may have to send some stuff to the cloud — the equivalent of data heaven (with the possible option for reincarnation).

Shifted. Off sight. Out of mind. Gone.

It is an odd way to handle our most precious personal accounts and testaments.

My old computer turned four old this past summer. In computer years, she is now geriatric. I am happy to report that she remains in good shape. However, her functionality is declining, and I understand that she has only a little time left. I decided that she can hang around and babysit my son until she finally passes. All little boys need to learn caregiving skills towards aging technological gadgets. It is one way to teach a type of responsible humanity.

My old computer entered my life at the moment I moved back to the United States in 2008, six kids in tow, while my then-husband stayed behind in a different country. She consoled me as I single-parented. I became a writer while caressing her keyboard. She took me through that initial major life change, then three book proposals, two published books, a published essay, numerous articles, blogs, powerpoint presentations, podcasts, a divorce, and various video productions.

I can say that she was loyal, profoundly faithful, during some of my frightening emotional crises.

My god, I love that computer. I built a new life with her. Literally. She has been all over the world with me, and then some.

Within her vaults were chambers and hidden tunnels of an old life: thousands of pictures and documents, massive amounts of audio, video, and manuscripts. I carefully transferred all of them, even the useless ones that needed to go, because four years of life is a lot to shift through.

However, it was exhilarating to move relics of an old self to an external place, cleaning the slate, and having a brand new computer with which to build a brand, spanking, shiny new life. The mundaneness of waiting hours for 100 plus GB to float over to my external hard drive was exciting. Picture by picture, song by song, my old existence traveled down the pike to safekeeping off-site.

It was an amazingly unexpected letting go of the past.

Now here I am with a new computer — one that I am trying to bond with — almost exactly a year out of my marriage, once again building a completely new existence with a new device, and compiling a completely different type of life data. My soundtrack is shifting. This time, I am a published writer, no longer a frumpy housewife trying to silence six kids so I can just think long enough to form a paragraph.

The first thing I did with my new computer: I wrote two blog posts and a grant proposal for a writing project.

This was unthinkable four years ago.

My new computer, well, I’m trying to get used to her. I’m going to name her something like Jedi Warrior Princess.

Then, together, we are going to write ourselves a new world.

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