When I was growing up, I hated carrying a purse. I loved earning money and buying things with my own money, but I opted out of carrying a purse almost all of the time. I would even bring my purse to the mall only to throw my wallet in my mom’s purse and leave mine in the car. My mom got annoyed literally every single time and would always force me to put my purse in the trunk of the car if I wasn’t going to bring it inside. She said that someone might see it through the window, then break into our car. I always responded with some snotty remark, then threw it in the back like she asked.
Three weeks ago, I was in the middle of the most hectic month of my life. I was practically living out of my car – I was keeping my makeup, my laptop, a few books, my passport, a change of clothes, and all of my work stuff in my passenger seat just to make sure I didn’t ever have to run home and grab anything.
It was a Friday, and I had to work both jobs – I had to be early to the first and stay late at the second, then I had to drive downtown because Kirk had a friend flying in. My car was packed with stuff that I needed just to survive that day, so when I got downtown and parked, I had no interest in moving it from my passenger seat to the trunk.
I sat there for a minute and argued with that imaginary mom that sometimes pops into your head when you can hear what she’d being yelling at you, even if she’s not actually with you.
“Mom, nobody’s going to break in to my beaten-up, 2001 Impala.”
“Kaelly, you don’t know that. What if it happens?”
“But it won’t.”
“You’ll feel a lot worse if you leave it where it is, and your car gets broken into than if you just move it and save yourself.”
Okay, fine. I did it. I moved everything to my trunk. I think it took me three trips just to grab it all. I was parked on a street with hundreds of other cars, it was dark, and freezing, so I was trying to be quick.
After my trunk was packed, I made sure that I had my keys, shut my trunk, then double checked that my drivers-side door was locked. Then I took off to meet my friends.
Five hours later when came back, my trunk was empty. I stood there for a minute confused.
“Wait, did I just dream about moving it all to my trunk?”
I walked to the side of my car and looked in the window. Everything had been moved. I keep receipts from taking the ferry in my center console, and they were thrown everywhere. The booster seats in the back seat had been moved. My reading glasses were sitting on the seat instead of hanging from my rearview mirror. All of the windows and doors were fine, but everything was different.
That’s when I realized what had happened. I started bawling – not like the kind of tears you have when something sad happens, like the kind of tears you have when you’re having a panic attack. I was practically hyperventilating standing next to my car as I thought of everything that had been taken. My laptop, my clothes, my passport, my entire wallet (with the exception of my ID and credit card), my purse, my new headphones, my makeup, my Christmas bonus, plus everything everyone else had in there.
I cried the whole way home as I called and canceled my debit cards and reported my stuff as stolen. I cried when we got home while I made cookies to cheer everyone up. I cried as I fell asleep, and I cried again in the morning when I had to spend all day dealing with it.
New people kept hearing the news and doing nice things for me, or saying nice things to me – it was wonderful to know how many amazing people I have in my life and how blessed I am. But they all said the same thing, “It’s just stuff – it can be replaced.”
Yes, my clothes, wallet, debit cards, purse, headphones, and makeup can be replaced. I don’t care about the money. I’m not worried that I went without makeup for a few days, and I don’t care that I had to buy a new purse.
I cried because my laptop was taken – because the laptop that I’m typing on now isn’t the same. This one is brand new and looks different. It doesn’t have the smudges on the screen I never bothered to wipe off or the scratch on the side from when I dropped it on cement. It doesn’t have any of the pictures that I’ve taken from the last three years, and it doesn’t have the musical library that I’ve been growing since I was 14. It doesn’t have the book that I spent all summer writing, or all of the blogs I wrote and never posted. It doesn’t have the saved Word documents from when I journaled just because I didn’t want to bother my friends with my problems. It doesn’t have the writing prompts I’d been making for over a year now. It doesn’t have my first attempts at writing from college. It doesn’t even have Microsoft Word.
It feels weird to type out, but that laptop meant more to me than most things in this world. I’ve had a few heartbreaks that felt like they were paralyzing, but nothing hurt as much as this. To some people – it would’ve been just a laptop, but not to me. To me, it was a place I stored every feeling I’ve ever felt and every dream I’ve ever had. It had memories that I can’t recreate and thoughts I might not ever remember. It had three and a half years worth of growing up stored in it’s memory that I’ll never get back.
Today marks three weeks since it’s been stolen, and I’ve been trying to come up with a lesson that I’ve learned from this situation that makes it worthwhile. Maybe I need to spend less time with an object and more time with the people around me. Maybe I need to put more worth in who I am as a person rather than what I’m capable of writing down on paper. Maybe I need to disconnect from the online world more often than I normally do. Or maybe I just need to finally invest in an external hard-drive.
Whichever it is, I’m not totally sure I needed my laptop stolen to learn it, but sometimes life does strange, cruel things, and sometimes there’s not an answer for everything. I’ve been trying to hide the fact that I’m still mourning the loss of my stolen laptop for three weeks now, but today, I’m going to move on for good. I’m going to stop thinking about the laptop that I’ll never get back, and I’m going to stop asking the “why’s.” I’m no longer going to wonder why it happened or why someone would do such a mean thing. Because there aren’t answers to those impossible questions, and they do more damage than they could ever do good. Instead, I’m just going to write more, and dream more, and feel more. And next time, I just might be stronger and smarter than the next thief who crosses my path.