As Cleo has mentioned in her epic poem, we’ve lost some stuff on our trip. I was expecting this. You can’t move all your possessions from one place to another every few days through rain forests, deserts, beach towns, and big cities in buses, taxis, airplanes, boats and trains without figuring that, every now and then, something will get left behind. “Defectors,” I call these objects. It happens. As my friend Brian O’Conner puts it, you have to get used to the idea of forfeiting 10% to the travel gods — 10% of your possessions, 10% of your money to crooked drivers, store owners — it’s the tax you pay for being able to travel. It’s a more concentrated form of life: You get more and you lose more. Our dear friend Peggy Orenstein, in response to Cleo’s poem, sent us another poem by Elizabeth Bishop that very well captures the series of losses that marks human existence.
But none of this prepared me for losing my laptop. (This post courtesy of the family Chrome book.)
A disclaimer: Objects are meaningless. Materialism is a cancer on our lives. People are all that matter. I know all of this. Then why I am I so sick about an inert piece of metal?
A short biography: Given to me as a gift after I helped write a Christmas special for Blake Shelton, the Macbook Air laptop was a trusted ally through many jobs and assignments. I used it to write chunks of Key & Peele and Teachers. I wrote my novel Channel Blue on it, and my second novel, which will hopefully someday be published. I knew very well that it might not survive this trip and weighed the risks. But again, I was not prepared, upon returning to Lima from the Amazon, when this conduit of creativity, the center of both my work and recreation and a regrettably a large part of my social life, became a non-starting, non-illuminating object overnight.
Our airbnb host, a warm, helpful guy named Jesus, was my savior, pun intended. He took me and my inert laptop to the computer repair district of Lima, a large complex of buildings which houses hundreds of repair stores, in the hopes of bringing it back to life. But, alas, Lazarus my computer was not. The initial diagnosis is moisture, so much moisture that it fried some of the innards (see the photo above), enough of them that it’s cheaper to buy a new computer than replace it. Could it have been the intense humidity of the jungle? Perhaps. But the more likely hypothesis is of a leaky water bottle in my backpack doing the deed.
In the denial portion of my stages of grief, I lurked around the Apple Store in Lima. (Yes, they have one in a shopping center overlooking the sea patrolled by armed guards.) I could replace my laptop for a mere $1,300 (yikes!) but then reason took hold: Wouldn’t a cheaper, sturdier computer make more sense? At least, until I get back to LA.? Yes, it would. I had to let go. We’re catching a flight to another city tomorrow night. This is the beauty of travel: You have no choice but to move on.