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Building One Home: Legacy September 8, 2012

The Blue Drive has passed on, her consciousness replaced by nothingness. All of what she knew has been transferred to a young drive yet to be named. I will miss the Blue Drive. Even though she was a legacy drive, she was the best hard drive that ever graced our computer menagerie.

Before the fire, I could tell that the Blue Drive was reaching the end of her life. It was like watching your grandmother who had been vibrant and constantly moving sit down in a chair and enjoy what was happening but less and less often rise from her chair to participate. She was cognitively bright as a penny and sharper than a tack but it took longer to get to data and sometimes she groaned a little trying to find things for me. Her behavior changed and she was passing into a legacy.

The Blue Drive moved in with us in 2006. My expensive, piece of junk computer purchased from a highly-respected company had crashed monumentally, taking everything with it. Even with backups, a spectacular computer crash is always high drama. At our house it translates to the computer owner being near hysteria and someone else being upset because the owner is upset. The concern is usually cranky because the victim of the computer, trying to avoid more trauma, refuses help. Both people then become cranky and what ensues is irritable, competitive behavior trying to establish who has authority over what computer knowledge and should be “allowed to drive.” Thankfully, this is soon followed by thoughtful collaboration trying to figure out what happened and how to fix it.

We are good at fixing computers, particularly when we work together. Still, there have been occasions when one, trying to make the other feel better, embarked on the treacherous journey of trying to fix the problem when the owner of the computer was not there. It is act of true compassion and caring for the owner of the ill computer but the outcome is always bad.  No matter how many times the owner of the computer said, like talking to a dog about food on the floor, “Leave it; don’t touch it. Just leave it,” it hardly ever works. Whoever is left is worried, cares, and wants to make everything OK.

The outcome is bad, sometimes very bad. Sometimes all the data disappear. It was on one of these occasions that Blue Drive came to our house. The Blue Drive was brought into the house by one of us with the abject sorrow of causing other’s data disappear completely. We then had one completely dead computer and one new hard drive with a blue light. All of the back-up data was loaded in her. The Blue Drive was born. A while later my new computer arrived. It was the same brand as the old; a different brand was too expensive. I did not trust the new computer but I trusted the Blue Drive. I left my data on the Blue Drive and put nothing on the new computer. Eventually, the Blue Drive made it through three computers. I knew she was passing out of this life and the fire was her last move. She lived another six weeks before we had to put her down.

My spouse bought a new replacement hard drive so the computer doctor could transfer all of her data. He told me that he bought a small, portable drive. I looked at him quizzically and inquired why a portable drive. He started an analysis of how he made the decision to get a portable one. He wound down like a wind-up toy running down. After a pause, he said, “I thought you could take it with you if you wanted.”  I said, “It is easier to take with us if there is a fire?” We both knew it was true.

After seeing it with the hard-drive we began to recognize it in other behavior since the fire. I had to have my power tools even though I don’t have anything to build right now. Having my tools makes me feel like I could build something and we need a house built. Two days after the fire I sat up late and secretly ordered dress pants, jackets, dress shirts and ties for my spouse because he was worried, in June, about having clothes to wear when the Fall semester started. He wears business clothes when he teaches at our University. He gets teased for being a dapper dresser but people like it. Dressed as he is, there is a certain formality that finalizes his ability to help students understand the legacy of the human behavior that is history.

So, our history had changed our behavior. Because of the legacy of our fire, consciously and unconsciously we craft choices that make escaping from a fire, or recovering from one, more efficient. Time will tell how this will unfold across the legacy of our family’s history.