Buying a new laptop is an emotionally harrowing experience. Never mind the expense, there's also the research, which requires reading a lot of eye-glazing stuff about new software developments, external hard drives and DOS RAM thingies. And finally, there is the matter of change, something I avoid at all costs, particularly where technology is concerned.
Despite my aversion to progress, my laptop is the only constant in my life. In the whir of travel, work and social drama since my university days, my laptops have been loyal companions - a stalwart series of Tinkerbells to my Paris Hilton.
While I used to forbid laptops in the boudoir, this rule has softened. Where else am I going to jot down a dream or check e-mail if insomnia strikes? Like Tracy Ullman's impression of blog queen Arianna Huffington, I am a woman irrationally attached to technology. I may not kiss my laptop goodnight, but I often fall asleep with it warming my belly like an hyper-intelligent hot water bottle.
Looking back, I count the chapters of my adult life not by relationships or jobs but by microchipped companions. There was the orange clam-shaped iBook on which I began my career writing nightclub listings and résumé cover letters. Then, a brief, ill-fated affair with a buggy Sony VAIO, which I never forgave for eating a 3,000-word essay while we were on assignment in Bosnia (I had to retype the whole thing from memory in half an hour). And of course, my most recent love: a 12-inch Mac workhorse in old-school white. My laptop holds not only the contents of my recent working life (one and a half novels, several dozen drafts of a pilot script, countless furious e-mails I didn't send), it is also as physically close to me as any object I own - its keyboard literally soiled with the grease of my toiling.
No single person is there for me like my laptop - ready and eager to flip open and hum to life when I want to check my e-mail or dash off an idea. Who else would I carry through customs in a dozen different countries, even insist come with me on holiday?