Where everybody knows your name

One of the things I missed the most when I was travelling overseas was the sense of connection that I felt to my place and its people. The longer I was away from home, the more dislocated I felt. I wasn’t doing the usual OE and so didn’t go somewhere like London and simply make a new place. Instead I was travelling around a lot. Always a new city, new landmarks, new people.

Eventually I landed in Temecula, California and stayed put for three months. Because I had been yearning for familiarity, I made connections quickly. I got to know all the checkout ladies at the local supermarket, the bus driver knew me by name. The coffeemakers at Starbucks missed me if they didn’t see me every day. Even the maintenance  guy at the apartment complex would stop and chat with me most days.

I was reminded of this feeling of dislocation (and the contrasting sense of home) last night at dinner, and again this morning.

Last night Stephen and I went to Tulsi for dinner. We haven’t been there for ages, but we used to go all the time. We wandered in and the Maitre d’ greeted us warmly. He gave us a cosy booth and turned the heater on for me. Then he asked if I’d like my usual…”chicken tikka and a plain naan?”. It was so lovely to be remembered. When I paid the bill, he asked if we had moved out of town, and I had to break the news that no, we had in fact been visiting other establishments. Awkward moment.

This morning, I popped in to C1 for a morning tea muffin. Obviously I’ve done this more times than I am aware of, because the woman behind the counter greeted me with, “Hi, vegan muffin to go?”. It felt good to be familiar.

The Cult of Mac

My first encounter with an Apple computer was in the early 1980s when a friend of my mother’s came to visit from Canada and brought a Apple IIe with him. It was an amazing object to me. It seemed magical. And cool. I was nine. And my first impression of Apple products has been a lasting one.

It being the 1970s and then the 1980s, I didn’t have much of a chance to play with computers again for a while (except for a brief dalliance with a Commodore 64).

The next time I got my hands on a Mac was when I started university in 1995. It was a heady time for computing and for me. The internet was a new and amazing thing. I had my first encounter with Netscape. And I bought my first Mac from my brother for $1500. It was a Mac Classic, all-in-one unit with a 9″ monochrome screen. It had 4 megabytes of RAM, and a 40 megabyte hard drive. Needless to say, I loved it.

Mac Classic 1990-1993

It couldn’t run an internet browser, but it would connect to a 14k modem, so I could use it check this amazing new thing called electronic-mail. Very slowly. It was my constant companion through my undergrad years.

My next computer was a Power Mac 6100/66. It was a soulless beast. It had none of the charm of my beloved Classic. But the 6100 was a workhorse. Just what I needed to get me through my Honours and Masters years at uni. And it ran an internet browser, opening up the world for me and my children.

Power Mac 6100/66

Against everyone’s advice (“Apple is on it’s way out, they are obsolete/too expensive, there’s no software for them, yaddayadda”) I purchased my first new Mac in 2001. It was an iBook G3 laptop. Now this thing was a TANK. I once dropped it down a flight of concrete stairs (gasp, clunk, gasp, clunk, gasp etc.) and it lived to tell the tale – with not a scratch on it. It was beautiful clear white inside and out, with a blue bumper around the outside. It had an internal modem, a CD drive, and a cute handle so I could carry it like a handbag. The love affair was firmly established.

iBook G3 – Clamshell

And as they say, once you go laptop, you never go back. My next upgrade was a little white iBook (Daisy), then a MacBook (Meagle), then a MacBookAir – my current computer. I’ve also owned a version of every kind of iPod – the original brick, mini, nano, shuffle, photo, video, touch, and now my most beloved iPhone.

Why do I love them so much? It’s lots of things. They just seem to fit – they aren’t hard to figure out, they look beautiful, and all the bits work seamlessly together. They have a hard-to-explain X-factor that draws me to them. I’ve heard it before and I agree:

“For some, Apple is not just a product, it’s a way of life”.

My feet are firmly planted in the Cult of Mac. So much so in fact, that my first tattoo includes a (subtly drawn) Apple logo. If I didn’t point it out, you probably wouldn’t even notice it’s there.

You might call it crazy, I just call it devoted.

My Apple tattoo, cleverly hidden in the spots on a ladybug’s back