March 31st, 2011 | Published in Personal
Over five years ago, I made a friend named Atticus. It didn’t take long for us to be acquainted and develop a mutual dependence. We traveled together to different countries, and each school year we moved into a new home. He was there for every all-nighter, every break-up, my homesickness and mistakes. Every boyfriend I had, knew that no boy trumped Atticus. Atticus was a gift–a true friend who never failed or disappointed me, and anyone who thought our friendship was silly, was just too silly to understand.
I was a clumsy designer at first, but Atticus was there to accompany me in the learning process. When I forgot to save my files, he would never throw tantrums, but instead patiently redid everything with me. He tolerated my ignorance with uncompressed files, my unorganized folders and even working straight off a server. He very rarely shut off before I did and despite all his later cosmetic defects, we paid very few trips to the Genius Bar. We were a team. Sometimes I would reward him for his co-operation. I’d make a deal with him: if we get everything done quickly, we can go enjoy the sunshine. So we would–we’d go out and sit on the grass and read together.
A month into our friendship, I hurt Atticus, but only by accident–I would never mean to hurt him. Staying up one night working on a 3D model, with an exacto knife in one hand, I left a 5mm cut on his face. I put a bandage over the small incision and hoped that when I woke up, it would be gone. Atticus didn’t resent me, but the scar left behind a reminder to always be more gentle with my friends.
I didn’t learn my lesson though. During a second-year History of Design lecture, I got up to leave and accidentally nudged Atticus off the desk that he was comfortable seated on. Later, I discovered that the fall had cause his screen to dislocate and develop an overbite. His latch broke, meaning he could only go to sleep manually from then on. That day, we did have to go to the Genius Bar, but they said he was fine and it would not be worth the repair. I might even have cried that day because I was responsible for his insomnia, but Atticus was a brave boy and functioned just the same.
Atticus had a rash that developed on his right cheek over his first humid summer in Hong Kong. I’m not sure what it was that made the metal corrode where my wrist brushed while using the trackpad, but Atticus didn’t react well to it. The patch of scratches never grew, or go away, so it naturally became like a birth mark, something to identify him by. After a while, it didn’t bother either of us, and instead added character.
By the time I graduated in 2009, everyone around me told me I had to let Atticus go. Initially, I hesitated at the idea of such betrayal, but it was evident that the kind of work I was doing was changing, and Atticus could no longer assist. He was a great companion for leisure, simple internet tasks and writing, but he lacked the capability to handle video rendering and much larger projects. It seemed Atticus and I wanted different things. So I sold Atticus–yes, I sold my friend for money and I’m not proud, but it had to be done.
When my new laptop arrived, I made the conscious choice not to name it, apply any sort of personality or attachment. Maybe I’ve grown up now that I’ve worked and am in grad school. But Atticus–he will always have a name, and everyone will know him as my good friend from the past.