I watched my laptop hit the floor and I heard it break. I stood there for a minute, not wanting to actually open it up and look, wanting to hold on to a few more seconds of being a person who had a computer, and knowing I was about to become a person who didn’t have one.
Upon closer inspection, I discovered that I had actually bent the battery. I didn’t even know that was possible. And the screen was shattered and partially separated from the keyboard. It was a lost cause. So that was it, then. I was done. No money to replace the laptop, which meant no more blog, no more extra income, nothing to keep me sane during the long, lonely graveyard shifts on the bridge.
Oh, how I cried. And I felt kind of stupid being so devastated over an inanimate object, especially at this time of year when I’m even more conscious of the pervading, insidious societal urge toward crass consumerism, but I have come to rely on my laptop, and I honestly and truly had no idea what to do.
Then my friend Ray stepped up and loaned me one of his old ones. What a relief. While it didn’t solve the problem, it took the pressure off until I could figure out what to do. And it kept me connected and working and writing. Ray kept me going, as he so often does. I’ll always be grateful for that.
So I trundled on like that for a while, but I knew I couldn’t use his laptop forever. Not that he was putting any pressure on me at all. Quite the contrary. It’s just that I needed to have my own computer. If I was going to risk dropping something on the floor and destroying it, it should be something I own. But I was still at a loss. It’s not like a big sweaty wad of cash was going to drop out of the sky.
And then a miracle happened in the form of my friend Martin. Martin, who I’ve known for seven years, but only in the virtual world of Second Life. I was lamenting my situation to him, and he offered to buy me a laptop. Just like that. He said, “I can afford to help you, and I want to.” That generous. That kind. That rare. My instinct was to turn his offer down. It was too much. But he wanted to give me this gift. He wanted to, and I needed help.
So here I am, writing this on my brand new laptop! A laptop given to me by a true friend. The thing itself is not what’s valuable, even though it’s fantastic and a complete life saver. No. It’s the love behind it, the decency, the unselfishness, the spirit of giving. Every day when I use this laptop, I will think of Martin and what he did for me, and I’ll remember that there really are people in this world who are willing to go the extra mile, the extra thousand miles actually, for a friend.
I hope someday, when my head is actually above water financially, I can pass on the bounty to someone else in their time of need. In the meantime, though, I will do my best to be there for friends in other ways, such as being a good listener and a source of support, and I can delight in the fact that with friends such as these, I’m rich in the only way that truly matters.
So I’ll leave you with this quote from the movie It’s a Wonderful Life: “No man is a failure who has friends.”
Happy Holidays, dear reader.
[My dear friend Martin in Second Life, standing in front of one of his artistic creations. I’d include a picture of my friend Ray, too, but he’d kill me if I did.]