The Blessing of a Lost Computer

Penny S. Tee Article

Maui Waterfall on the Road to Hana

My family and I had just completed a glorious week in Maui.  The vacation felt magical.  Maui as always, was a cornucopia of spectacular sights.  It was filled with the breathtaking beauty of the multi-colored ocean of blues and teals. The profusion of trees, shrubs and flowers showed off their flamboyant displays.  The Road to Hana revealed to us cascading waterfalls hidden amongst the curving road and verdant foliage. The glorious peak of Haleakala swooped down revealing fog-filled valleys. The opportunity to snorkel in my favorite aquarium as always soothed my soul and – and of course, don’t forget my beloved sea turtles as they swam by with exquisite grace.

I looked out the window of the airport and saw that we were getting on board a puddle-jumper of a plane.   We were just going to take this short flight from Maui to Honolulu and then proceed home to California.  This was so much smaller than most of the planes we usually fly on. In my mind’s eye, this was a giant mosquito.  Admittedly, I’m not the best airplane passenger.  I knew that the smaller the plane, the more possibility there was for turbulence – in the air, my stomach, and honestly, mostly in my nerves.

As I approached the plane door, I lovingly dragged my carry-on suitcase.  Within my suitcase, I had my manuscript that I had been working on for months.  It’s called War Wasn’t On Our Itinerary, A Mom’s Search For Peace.  Does the summer of 2014 ring a bell with you?  Israel, Palestinian missiles, Iron Dome? We found ourselves smack dab in the beginning of a war while on vacation.  Excuse me, but this was definitely a WTF moment!  Touring by day and bomb shelters at night. Nothing like this was in the small print of the travel brochures I can assure you.  It’s about our adventure, the war, the current situation and who is working on Peace at the grassroots level.

Anyway, my Surface tablet, manuscript, photos, the hard copy of my book so far and several USBs were in my carry-on.  I kept banging into both sides of the aisle as I rolled my bag to my seat.  There wasn’t the typical room underneath the person in front of me nor was there any space left above in the storage compartment. The stewardess saw my predicament and came over to me.  “I’m going to have to store your carry-on for you.  Do you have anything fragile inside?”  I thought to myself and replied, “Definitely,” and started to unzip my suitcase and dig out my computer.  Luckily, the seat next to me was open so I plopped down my tablet that was safely in its pouch where I also stored my USBs.  I zipped my carry-on back up and handed it to the stewardess.  I set down my purse on top of my tablet.  At that moment, I thought to myself…I’m going to forget my computer – but I ignored the warning and proceeded to settle in my seat.  You know those kinds of warnings – intuition, God, the Universe – whatever you choose to call it.  I’m still learning to cross that bridge between hearing and really trusting that I need to do something about it.  Well, hopefully next time…

My husband and son were seated across the aisle.  As we took off, I reached across to hold my husband’s hand.  I know, I’m a big baby at take offs.  Turbulence, I guess I was brought up on too much chicken soup.  The short flight to Honolulu had a bit of bumpiness but was over quickly to my relief.  Once the plane landed, everyone began gathering their things and standing up and waiting.  You know how it goes – do I stand up yet? Even as short as I am, I have to crouch down if I’m seated below the storage compartments.  How long before they open the doors?  Boy, it’s getting hot in here.  Yatta, yatta, yatta, same old getting off the airplane stuff.  Then you can see people start moving up front and they politely pile out of the plane dragging their stuff behind them.  I was anxiously looking to see when my carry-on would appear. I saw the stewardess approaching with it and she handed it to me.  How do you spell relief?  I grabbed my purse and shuffled with my baggage off the plane.

We had to change planes.  Now, we were in Honolulu, heading back to California.  It took us a while to weave our way through the many walking conveyor belts to get to the next gate.  One plane trip down, one to go.  The plane was almost done boarding by the time we arrived so we quickly walked through the Gate check in and onto the plane.  Our seats were all the way at the back.  Once again I began the usual sweating routine until the cool air could be turned on.  So many of the storage compartments were full and I unzipped my bag to get out my Surface to work on my book on the long 5 hour flight back to San Diego.

I reached into my bag for my black pouch with my computer in it…OH NO!  It’s not there.  I panicked, “Michael!  (I’ve changed names in the blog to protect the innocent), I left my computer on the other plane!” I literally screamed.  Then the tears broke free.  I began crying and panicking and crying even more and louder.  I thought to myself, OMG, how could I have been so stupid!   As I thought about the ramifications of losing my computer, my book  – this was a nightmare!  My heart and soul were part of that book.  I was shaking.  Oh, no, I think I may even have the USB files with all of my pictures AND the back up in my computer pouch.  The wailing began again.  I just knew this was going to happen!  Why didn’t I heed my own intuition as I set down my computer on the empty seat next to meOMG, what can I do?  I flagged down the stewardess who advised me that I should call the airlines.  I saw most people nervously trying to look away.  Thankfully, there weren’t any of the crash scene onlooker types in my vicinity.  I choked out to my husband through my tears, “Michael can you call the airlines for me?”  “Sure,” he said and he carried out his critical mission.  No, don’t beat yourself up – that won’t do any good.  That’s better self-talk I thought, as my goal to be the best Mom to myself this year began to work. I collapsed into my seat.

On this flight we were all sitting together.  Suddenly, my fourteen year old son reached out and enveloped me in his arms.  He wrapped his long gangly limbs around me and hugged me tightly, and whispered into my ear, “It’s ok, Mom.   They’re going to find it. Shh, shh, it’s ok.”  Through the fog, I felt him, and heard his soothing words.  The words sounded strangely familiar – from a time long ago.  This was my teenage son, the very one that had earlier today crankily blurted out that he didn’t want to speak to anyone. “Just leave me alone!” was all he could impart as we packed up to leave our vacation.

If you have ever dealt with a teenager, I’m sure you are familiar with the less than verbose communications that are typical. Mostly grunts and that can be the brightest point in the day.  There’s also the outbursts of anger when they’re stressed out.  I can’t really blame them between all the homework and testing they’re expected to push out.  There is an inordinate amount of pressure on teens today.  Who came up with the idea that our kids have to take college courses in high school to get above a 4.0 GPA?  It’s crazy making for everyone.  Unfortunately, it is a symptom of the world that they compete in.  Combining that with hormones and huge growth spurts, well, their bodies can just feel like painful, chaotic messes. They stay attached to their iPhone to the point that you think that they should be considered another appendage.  Really, his friends can be in the same room, sitting next to one another, and still text to the guy sitting 5 feet away!  Do your kids do this too?

But this was a different side of my son.  One that I hadn’t seen before.  Sure, I knew that way down deep, he not only was really smart (yes, I’m a proud Mama), but he had a heart of gold.  Unfortunately, my love bones (my pet name for him when he was a baby), had acted differently the past few years.  Gone were the cuddly years of his childhood.  In his age-appropriate attempt to establish his own identity, he had pulled away from me.  At times, it seemed like I was a cross between the warden or the housekeeper.  It was almost impossible to get him to speak to me and when he did, given the result, I often wondered why I tried so hard.  His unanticipated response to me was of a kind, compassionate young man.  Furthermore, his empathetic demeanor was infused with the same types of words that I had soothed him with throughout his life.   Now, I was crying for a different reason.  He was demonstrating that he truly “got it.”  I kvelled (Yiddish for bursting with pride), at the thought of who he had become.  His ability to show Love comforted my heart.

My husband reached the airlines and they said that they would notify the lost and found and let us know if it had been located.  As they closed the plane door and made the announcement that we were going to taxi down the runway, I knew that I would have the next 5 ½ hours to wonder if they found it. My emotions fluctuated throughout the flight and I tried to distract myself by watching a movie.  Sometimes, I could concentrate and then I’d feel my eyes begin to fill up with tears.  I was on quite an emotional roller coaster.

When we finally reached San Diego and my iPhone worked again, I immediately called the airline.  They had found it and I would receive it back home within the week!  Once back at home, I went up to my son and said, “I just wanted to thank you for your kindness on the plane (trying to keep the tears back).”  He answered, “No problem, Mom,” as he shuffled off to log on to his long missed computer game.


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