Once upon a time, long ago, I left my job in retail and began my career as a freelance writer. My husband was earning the big check, enough for us to survive, so it was no big deal that my paychecks were much smaller and more sporadic. I was developing my craft, carving out a network, paying my dues. Oh, the romance of it all. I worked on Old Ironsides, our ancient relic of a PC, at my desk, which I’d had since I was 11 years old. A white, Swedish modular laminate style beast of a tabletop, with a hutch, a set of drawers, and a typing return. It was huge and bright and shiny white, and I had plenty of room to spread out all sorts of shit important papers. I also had room for a pot of coffee mug or some other beverage, and even space for a plate if I needed chose to stress eat nibble my way through a deadline. It was grand. I remember when I got that desk, sometime in junior high, and how it made me feel like a grownup. Over the years, I would spread out my homework on the vast tableau, conjugating irregular French verbs and wondering if I would ever need trigonometry to survive. Most of all, I’d write for hours in a notebook, creating stories and developing characters, my fingers rubbing over the smooth, cool surface of my wonderful desk as I worked. When I went away to college, I was sorely disappointed at the rinky-dink “desk” provided in my dorm. I could hardly put 2 books on there, let alone write at it. It could’ve served as a dining table in my first apartment in San Francisco, assuming anyone would’ve been able to lug that bastard up 3 twisting flights of stairs. After graduation, when I moved into my own apartment, it was too big for my bedroom, so it hogged up space found a home in my living room. When I studied interior design, it made a great drafting table. At one point, I’m sure it’s served just about every purpose a large flat surface can be used for. Make of that what you will. When I had children, I hid it away in our office, which was a bedroom carved into the garage of the home we were renting. I’d sit in my comfy office chair, clacking away on the ergonomic keyboard I’d bought for Old Ironsides, a massive sandwich glass of water at my side, laying the foundation for my career and honing my skills. I was a writer, and this was what that desk was meant for.
Then we moved to Idaho. To a house with an actual office. Not someone’s hand-me-down bedroom born out of the need for space due to an overflow of kids. Nope, this had a window seat and a big, funky closet that followed the line of the stairs, and plenty of room for my behemoth of a workspace. I could sit down at my somewhat nicked up, dingy “white” desk, well-worn over years of loving use, and do my work without being in the path of my family. And I could close the door and have the room all to myself. Oh, the romance of it all.
Then one day my husband bought me a laptop. It was a great gift, one I was very happy to have. Now my work was portable. I didn’t have to wait for Old Ironsides to warm up and defrag and crash just for the hell of it. I could work on my own assignments and not have to share the computer with anyone else. There was just one problem. Old Ironsides had to stay on my desk, which was now shared by my husband, my kids, and everyone’s crap stuff. So my laptop went to … the living room. On the coffee table. And then when we changed furniture, an ottoman. I traded my comfy chair for the couch.
I thoroughly enjoyed the independence my laptop afforded. But very, very slowly, my health began to suffer. And I had no idea how much it was going to cost me.
I’ll leave it at that for today.
Come back soon for part 2 of this story.