Tinyletter 16: Laptops, and other things that aren’t broken


The patient is healing well. So well, in fact, that he was able to accompany me on a 35 mile panicked round-trip last night, after I realised I’d placed my laptop on the roof of my car and then driven home. Okay, he winced as we went over the speed-bumps and round sharp corners, but he was, I think, keen to resume his role of imposing sanity on the chaos I routinely cause.

To be honest, my response to the missing laptop was, roughly, ‘Everything’s ruined, there’s nothing that can be done, and I’ll die poor and lonely, having achieved nothing.’ I’m not the world’s greatest problem-solver. I just can’t see the steps that would take me to a solution.

H, on the other hand, is methodical and logical. The first thing he did was to go outside to my car, and check the laptop wasn’t still there. Then, he noticed the perfect arc of scratches in the paint, where the damned thing had clearly slid off. He calmly suggested that we go and find it.

‘It’ll be ruined!’ I said. ‘What’s the point?’

‘Worst case scenario, we have evidence to show the insurance company,’ he said.

Now H is out of hospital, I think I’ve found it harder to adjust back to normal life than he has. The transition into crisis mode was unavoidable and well-signposted: you just had to go along with the routines of the hospital, answer endless phone calls and texts, and try to make sure that nobody died. When it came to an end, I found myself feeling that it had all been too abrupt. I had to sit down on Monday and get back to work as if my ears weren’t still ringing. I felt like I needed a week to process – or at least to sleep it off. I’d been flipped over like a beetle, and my legs were still struggling against thin air.

The laptop thing was inevitable, really. Even at the best of times, I can’t keep track of all the peripheral objects in my life – my existence is one, long hunt for my phone, my keys, and my work ID card. I simply have no idea how you’re supposed to keep your mind in the physical realm long enough to keep track of these things. But in times of stress, I get even more clumsy and distracted than usual. There is collateral damage, which looks entirely avoidable to other people. Trust me, it isn’t. I’m expensive to run.

H was right: we did find the laptop. Some good Samaritan had picked it up in the car park and left it in my studio. Its edges were crimped where it hit the ground and there were tyre marks running over the case. Still, I opened it up and the screen glowed to life as if nothing had happened at all. It was just a little battle-worn, that’s all. I know how it feels.

See you next week,

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