The old laptop has now been sitting in the closet for coming on for five years now. So now that my parents are finally waking up to the wonders of the internet, I started thinking about the possibility of hooking up a cheap dial-up connection - they don't need cable, they won't websurf, they just want email, really - on to the old laptop and passing it on to do another stint of useful life.
I have to clean up stuff off of it that it would be imprudent for parental units to have access to, of course. And I'll probably have to invest in virus protection software if I can find anything that will still run on a WIN95 machine - and if I can't I may have to upgrade the operating system in order to get this done. However, all that I"ll figure out as I go.
The thing that I was doing all afternoon, however, is just... cleaning it up. And lord, there's some history there. This was the computer I did my courting on (for those who don't know yet, Himself and I met on the Net, in a newsgroup, in the middle of a political argument which is STILL going on). This was the computer on which I wrote my half of "letters from the fire". This is the computer from which I hauled printout after printout of alternative news during the war in Yugoslavia in 1999, to keep my family sane far away in New Zealand. This was the computer on which all manner of old jokes I had thought long vanished survived in arcane old inboxes of email software long disused, and on which friendships were forged, a world was created, and a marriage was made.
I feel just a little nostalgic and bright-eyed. Of course, after I've cleaned all this up - copied it elsewhere, deleted it whatever is necessary, whatever it takes - it's just going to be an old-fashioned chunky laptop at which today's aficionados would point and laugh and call it chubby and heavy and packing the kind of software the version numbers of which would make any self-respecting support tech person crack up with disbelieving mirth. But it carried me, and my life, for a couple of unusually turbulent and eventful years. It may yet prove that my gesture of passing it on - and the updates and upgrades it would require before *I* could trust any email sent from it - could prove to be more expensive than the entire thing is currently worth, and getting a new laptop which today might cost something like $500 could be the way to go. But even if so... I'm not sure what I ought to do with this baby. I feel kind of responsible for it, in its old age and obsolescence. It has been overtaken and passed by, but it is special - not for its battered body or its slow and overburdened mind, but for - if such things may be - its soul, the spirit it has acquired while being my mainstay and support, for sometimes being an all-too-fragile bridge between my feeling tragic and broken one moment and then being buoyed and supported by friends across the globe until I realised that there is ALWAYS sunshine above even the thickest of stormclouds. I owe that computer. I owe it my strength, my sanity, and to a large extent the life I have today.
It's plugged in, charging a battery that hasn't known juice for pretty near three years now. And it's valiantly up and functioning.
Three cheers for the little old computer upstairs.