Over Thanksgiving of last year, my dad noticed I was using a Macbook Pro and asked what happened to my Air. I explained how I'd switched over, and left it at that.
Apparently, I didn't communicate the story very well and he ended up thinking I was using an extra laptop of Noah's and no longer had one of my own… and then decided to buy me one so I could gain my Macbook independence.
Of course, he has always been strictly a PC kind of guy (even though he's owned the first two generations of iPods and the iPhone 3GS), but I offered to swap MBPs (since mine didn't have the backlit keyboard, a feature that drove him nuts) so he could at least have a Mac to play around with, should the notion ever appeal to him.
One month later, he commented to me that the Mac was pretty much his main computer.
He'd also bought a really nice squashy case for my MBP and had no interest in keeping it, since his laptops are strictly stay-at-home. I already had a (only slightly less-nice) Speck skin-case that I really liked using, but couldn't say no to him, so I took it as well.
A day or two later, Noah was helping me pack for San Francisco, and I asked him if he'd like to use the case so it wouldn't just collect dust. He gladly accepted, and later we were cleaning up my room and he was about to throw away the case's packaging when I grabbed it and pulled off the little metal chain that had been used to hang the case (+ package) on the wall hook in the store.
It was small, but seemed like it would fit around my wrist, so I laid it over my left arm, found that it did, latched the ends, and it's never come off since. For over 10 months, I've worn this thing with such guarded obsession that one would think it was secretly made out of platinum and unicorn tears and Robert Pattinson's eyebrow hair.
Keep in mind that I had been sobbing on and off all that night and was a complete and total emotional train wreck nightmare. I didn't want to leave Vegas, and I didn't want to be so far from my parents, even if it was only going to be a state line and 8 hours on the road. I was basically trying to cling to whatever representation of them I could come up with, including but not limited to what in most minds was an article of rubbish.
(But to the weepy and overly distraught daughter's mind, said article of rubbish was essentially part of a gift from her father, and thus it represented his thoughtfulness and generosity. Can you blame her, then, for wanting to keep it next to her skin and have it with her for every waking and sleeping moment?)
Or even the iPod Touch. I've never really wanted an iPod because while I enjoy music– love it, even, sure– I've never felt that compelled to carry a library of music with me wherever I go. But after my dad got his iPhone, he gave me his first iPod Touch and left his 10 screens of apps and small collection of music on it. I later added my own music and download other apps to it, but otherwise have left it as-is. It actually turned buggy two months ago while I was in Holland, and while I'm almost positive a system wipe and restore would fix it, I haven't had the heart to do it. That would make it too much mine, and I don't want it to be mine. Or rather, I don't want it to become any less his. In following with the theme of the post prior to this– I love it because it was his, because he gave it to me.
It's fitting that the iPod Touch would be what turned me on to e-books. I was sitting on a plane with nothing else to do and decided to make use of one of my dad's apps, "Classics". I started reading Jack London's "Call of the Wild" and ended up glued to the iPod for the rest of the night until the battery was nearly dead and I'd finished reading. I also read "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea"– something I'd been kicking myself to pick up since 2006*– through that app and finished it while Noah and I were in Bali. And two e-books read on my Mac and three weeks later, I bought a Kindle.
When I was a little kid, my dad made an offer: if I memorized an entire book (any book!), he'd take me to Toys 'R Us and buy me a toy of my choice. I remember exactly the toy I wanted– a Hook, one of the big ones (my sister had a big one, I had a little one)– and the book I was determined to memorize was "Alexander and the Wind-Up Mouse".
It never happened. As desperate as I was at the time for that toy, the project overwhelmed me and I gave up halfway through the book. But I've since managed to commit other things to memory– things like beautiful poems or inspiring passages or lyrics to really trashy pop songs– things like every instance of my father's demonstration of his love for me and his tolerance of my flaws, or all the habits and quirks of his that I've inherited.
In these ways, I collect him. The little out-of-the-blue things he gives to me (like a tiny stuffed turtle wearing a bow tie which he brought back from a cruise with my mom), I hoard as a substitute for physical proximity to him, and I cling to his personality traits for the days when all these things tangible will no longer be.
Happy birthday, Daddy. I love you.