Robb's hobbies included fixing, improving, upgrading, and knowing the ins and outs of his computers. Incidentally, his hobbies also included serving his wife to the best of his ability, so he kept my PC up and running, fully equipped and updated. He made all of our computer decisions, and since he was so confident and able, I didn't bother to step into that arena. He simply presented me with a working machine, and I worked happily and efficiently with my machine.
My PC laptop has become geriatric as of late, and in her old age, she began to function not quite so well. Anything I asked her to do, anything at all, she seemed to scratch her gray hair and respond with, "Oh, gee. We'll need to think on this. Where did you put it? What is it called? Can you give us a hint? And about an hour?" A writer really needs her techno companion to keep up. I don't have time for the computer to think more slowly than I do.
Time to upgrade.
I have long listened to the diatribes of my Apple-loving friends: "Once you go Mac, you'll never go back." Hmmm. But we were a PC family. Surely I need to keep this in mind as I take this next step. Except, I've lost my PC expert. Surely I must keep this in mind also as I take the next step.
So, "I'm buying a Mac today," I announced. (Because once I make a decision, I'm in.)
I consulted my Mac experts, a panel of users ranging from a former IT specialist of over 150 Mac users (who also happened to be my youth pastor twenty years ago: insert years of wise guidance), a university professor who uses Mac exclusively for all of her professional and artistic needs (who also happens to be my soul sister in Arkansas: insert implicit trust), and a creative specialist at Walt Disney World who relies on Mac to manifest his creative expression (who also happens to be my brother. And you simply must know how I feel about him by now.)
They all guided me in the absolute same direction: MacBook Pro. Do it, Tricia. Go.
So I did. I entered the Apple Store, totally faking the knowledge and confidence I had about this realm of technology and major purchasing. "I'd like to purchase a MacBook Pro, please."
"Ah, yes, ma'am. I'll help you with that today. My name is Justin." And 12 minutes later, I was walking out the door with my new laptop in hand. It was that easy.
I came home with a skip in my step, and I promptly left the box on the kitchen counter.
I'll open it after the kids are in bed. I certainly wouldn't want to be distracted from my duties as a mom.
Um, yeah, so the kids are in bed now... but I'll open it tomorrow.
So, good morning, it's tomorrow... maybe I'll open it tonight.
Or maybe I just won't yet. It's one thing to buy a computer; it's another thing to get it up and running, to make it mine, to own it. I'm not a computer girl. Just maybe somebody could get it all set for me and then hand it to me. That's what Robb would do. That works well for me.
The white box sat on the kitchen counter, teasing me. "You know you want to open it."
I do. I just... can't. I just can't yet.
(What if I can't do it? What if I missed my window to become technologically savvy, and the opportunity left with Robb?)
My mom can sniff out my intimidation from a mile away. She has patience with it, but little tolerance. She didn't raise me to be a girl who will be put in a corner. A daughter of hers will not be easily intimidated, put in a box, or defined by anything but God's best for her.
She tapped on the box. "Tricia, turn it on today."
Right. That. Turn it on. Sure will. I sure will.
I unpacked it. Unwrapped it. Loaded it (and its many foreign accessories) into my computer bag. I was careful to bring the instruction book, just in case, you know, I need it.
I settled in at Starbucks, bought my drink, and delayed, delayed, delayed. An argument unfolded in my mind: Starbucks time is reserved exclusively for God. I get myself here, and he meets me. This time is manna for my day. I can't let myself compromise that discipline; I can't let anything come before it. I'll read and journal first. And then, if there's still time, I'll turn it on.
We'll see. Maybe I'll figure it out tomorrow. Maybe I will. (Or, maybe I won't. Surely the geriatric laptop has a little more to give.)
My mom called: "Did you turn it on? Just checking."
Ah. Accountability. The wise sage on my shoulder. "I will. Right now. I will."
I got it out of the bag, set it on the table. I tried really hard not to look like a Mac novice. I pretended I knew what I was doing. I turned it on. I did. It was pretty easy, actually.
One button, turns out.
And things began to unfold before me. These Mac people know what they're doing. This beautiful machine seemed to breathe on its own, simply prompting me with new passwords, simple decisions, and language I could understand.
And would you believe: the Lord met me there, in the installation and claiming of my new MacBook Pro.
Anxiety threatened me, reminding me, "Hey, keep in mind you don't know what you're doing. This was Robb's gig. You're not the computer girl. Give it a shot if you must, but be ready to bail out when you hit the limitations of how smart you really are."
Guilt hung over me. "Don't be good at this. Even if you can, you shouldn't. If you do something for yourself that only he could do, maybe it's like you didn't need him. If the wound begins to heal, how will you remember where he fit? He was a PC man. You should be a PC girl. You should. You shouldn't do this. Don't stretch your wings too far; it's not time for that yet."
I clenched my fists, shutting out the words that weren't true. "Shut up, you. Don't talk to me that way. I'll do this thing. I can do this. I can. I am. See? I am. I am doing this. And he would want me to."
I felt empowered. Smart. Capable. I can do this. I couldn't stop smiling, and actually, I kept giggling. And before I knew it, I was up and running. Software installed. Passwords set. Mine, all mine.
I did it. It was the first major decision I made in 12 years without his verbal approval and decision alongside me. I began to learn a new side of me, find access to parts of my mind that had rarely been used.
And yet I felt Robb smiling. "You did it, baby girl. You did it."
He often reminded me of the reasons he married me: he loved that I am smart, confident, and capable. He held fast to those parts of me, especially when I felt torn between the way God made me and the prescribed definitions of a woman in an evangelical subculture; those don't always match. We are not always supposed to be smart, confident, or capable. But Robb wouldn't let me think otherwise. "Go do it, babe. I know you can."
I did it today.
Oh, Lord, how good you are to me!
I bought a Mac; I am officially an Apple Girl.
Who knew this could be so worshipful? That you could show me who you are as you show me who I am, how you made me - what I am capable of.
I am on fire today.
I bought a computer. I made my choice, I made my purchase, and I made up my mind.
I have felt like a wagon learning to be a tricycle; today I learned that a tricycle is fully functional.
My identity is not in my role or my partnership with anyone else, not even my beloved husband, my precious Robb, no matter how much my heart aches for him.
My identity is in You.
I am strong, smart, and capable. And it is no disrespect to Robb to be these things without him beside me. He would want nothing less.
I think he would say today, "Yep. That's the girl I married."
God, what must you have in mind for this girl?
And now unto him who is able to do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine.
Be strong and courageous for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
I am on fire.
"Once you go Mac, you'll never go back," they said.
I am finding a new me. One I never knew I could be. I didn't know she was hiding in there.
Turns out, sometimes you gotta take it out of the box.