27 October 2007

for wallace

My long and beloved friend Wallace has fallen into the depths, from whence there is no return. We labored long to save him, but all efforts were for naught. He has passed beyond this world into a realm where none of us can follow.

In other words, I’m a *&^% idiot who, when heading to the latrine while listening to music, thinks to herself, “Maybe I should take the iPod out of my back pocket. No, it will be fine,” not realizing that the back pocket of jeans, when using a squatting toilet, GET TURNED UPSIDE DOWN. There was a horrible moment of realizing he was falling and watching him bounce and then watching him fall down down down into the depths of the latrine. One would think, having lost TWO phones through dropping into toilets, I would think more clearly now when approaching sources of liquid with electronic devices. One would be wrong.

We tried. We really tried. I could see him standing upright, his shiny little back with the Strawberry Shortcake sticker sticking up out of the goo. Only the very bottom was in the mess. We made a shovel out of a Pringles can and attached it to a long flexible plastic pipe (first we tried a metal pipe, but it was too tall to get into the latrine without bending). We used one more flexible pipe to try to pry it into the shovel. The pipe broke. We tried again, with two pipes, but Wallace just sunk further and further in. Finally, he was almost invisible, and we gave up.

I sat on the floor of the latrine and cried. There are parts of the latrine, like the edge of the hole, that I scorn to touch even with the bottom of my shoes. Now I was sitting in them, and resting my hand on them. The smell of the stirred up hole was terrible. My three colleagues, gathered around to help with the hopeless retrieval, said, “It’s not a person! At least it’s not a person!” and I looked up and said, teary-eyed, “His name is Wallace. We’ve been through a lot together.”

I looked down at him, the tiny remaining visible bit of him, one more time, and then said, “Is there a plane tomorrow? I want to leave.”

Of course I’m not leaving over a lost iPod. But it’s a sore loss. Wallace kept me sane many a night when I couldn’t leave the light on to read because the bugs would swarm. He kept me sane through all the long airport waits.

I cried for a while and then I got into the shower and washed myself thoroughly, including my hair, which I had just washed. I pushed my clothes into a pile and then washed again. I felt dirty from head to toe. But I would have taken Wallace back, for all the filth. I would have washed him carefully and prayed that he would work again.

Now I have only my computer. I am listening to music on it now, trying to be okay with losing Wallace, but I remember again every time I reach down to change the song and there is no lovely little spinning wheel on a shiny little body. There is only my bulky computer.

His last song was World On Fire, by Sarah McLachlan.

I miss him.

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