She bought this for me

Heidi showed up at my work on Friday with a “proposition.”  I was a bit concerned because she really doesn’t come see me at work unless she’s coming to eat with me.  Since it was 9AM, I was pretty sure that wasn’t what she wanted to discuss.  As it turns out, she wanted to discuss getting a new computer.  She bought her iMac in 2006 and it has served her well.  However, it was reaching the limits of what it was able to do with 2012 technology.  The fact that Mobile Me was going away in June was probably the straw that broke the camel’s back.  Heidi’s computer is, by and large, a work computer.  She may be up there playing Plants vs. Zombies right now, but make no mistake, if her computer is not functional, it seriously compromises her ability to work.  We had had our taxes done the day before and even though I worried myself practically into an ulcer over the possibility, we did not end up owing after all.  Our refund shrank a bit, but there was still something coming.

I have to admit that when she suggested that she go to Des Moines that morning and get a new iMac, my initial reaction was “are you kidding?”  But after talking it through and putting some things in perspective, we found a way that we could afford to do it without running up our credit card which we are trying like the devil to finally get paid off once and for all.  It helps a lot that Heidi’s making some money on her books now.  I’m certainly not in the position to be able to quit my day job and become a man of leisure, but her paycheck is a very welcome addition.  If my father were here, this would be the point where he would tell the story about how his whole life changed financially when my mom went back to work after being home for 12 years with kids.  It makes a huge difference in our cash flow – more than you’d expect it to.

That said, when she started saying that I should replace MY computer too, I balked.  We didn’t have the money, we couldn’t possibly do that.  No way, no how.  I bought my PC in 2006, shortly (and unexpectedly) after Heidi bought her iMac.  My motherboard died in my previous computer which left me shopping for a new computer when I didn’t have the money of adequate time to think about what I really wanted.  I ended up with another PC mostly because it was the cheaper alternative.  Like Heidi’s iMac, it’s served me admirably over the last 6 years.  But it’s definitely showing signs of age.  It takes forever to sync my iPhone and iPod and frequently doesn’t see them even when they’re connected.  It’s fallen victim to viruses and malware on several different occasions, resulting in a complete reinstall of the operating system each time.  It frequently gets gummed up when I try to run more than one application at a time and I have to reboot it more than I care to think about.  Simply put, its time is past.  For the record, it’s the longest I’ve ever had any PC without doing major upgrades on it.  The only other PC I had longer was one that was a 486 when I bought it but my father bought a Pentium chip for it to upgrade it.  I think I had that one for 6 years as well, replacing it with a better computer when I got my first real job.

At first, I couldn’t justify getting an iMac.  Too expensive.  We had just bought Heidi’s and we didn’t need the extra cost.  I could make mine limp by for another year or two and be just fine.  I don’t do any major gaming or anything, so getting it would just be frivolous right?  And besides, I’d just bought a 300-some dollar Madonna ticket for November.  Certainly such extravagance doesn’t get to be repeated so shortly after the first act of extravagance.  It was ridiculous.  Those were the words I told myself.

But like the guy in the Dr. Seuss story with the pale green pants with nobody inside them, I said them but I lied them.  I wanted that computer like nothing else.  I have wanted a Mac for quite a while now and I always knew my next computer was going to be a Mac.  We went to Cedar Rapids on Saturday to celebrate Heidi’s grandfather’s 91st birthday and she said that she would be open to going back home via Des Moines so that we could stop at the Apple store to look and see.  I told her I had to think about it.  I couldn’t make a decision right then and there.

Ultimately, I decided that we would go look.  But as I drove on the interstate toward Des Moines, I realized what the real reason I was that was making me hesitate over buying the computer.  Even though the money was there and yes, it could be used for other things, it wasn’t those other things that had me all hung up.  Frankly, I didn’t think I deserved it, which started the doubt and anxiety spiral in full force.  It’s that little voice inside my head that talks shit to me when I am at my most vulnerable and convinces me that I really am nothing.  No argument that I can muster can counter it.  It’s a combination of the elementary school teacher who asked me, when I complained to her that kids at the lunch table were picking on me, if I was “just being a baby again” and the negative self-talking adolescent me that looked in a mirror and saw a tall and gangly young man that got stuck in the awkward phase way too long.  Somehow, I had convinced myself that the decision whether or not to buy this computer determined how the world saw me. Would people judge me once they found out that I’d bought both a computer AND a Madonna ticket?  Not to mention a new phone last December?  Would they put me in jail and let me out the day after the Madonna concert?  I was paralyzed with fear and anxiety and some pretty bad self-talk.  The feelings and emotions ran so much deeper than just the computer.  Heidi saw this and, in a way that made me fall in love with her all over again, quietly but firmly talked me down from the precipice.

Here’s the thing – I’m a pleaser.  I don’t like conflict and I like people to like me.  I know you’re saying “who doesn’t?” but it’s kind of my modus operandi.  Just put up and shut up and then there’ll be no conflict and everyone will be happy.  Well, except me but that doesn’t matter, right?  WRONG.  The thing is that other people don’t think of me even one-tenth as much as I think they think about me, and certainly thinking that buying a computer when maybe I could have just put all that money toward paying off debt was going to influence people’s opinion of me was a construct in my head.  I realize that I put way too much thought into the purchase of this – or perhaps way too much thought into things that don’t matter at all – but in the end, I did it.  I have a nice clean desk and it has ONE CORD.  It’s amazing to me that a computer can have so few cords.  It also worked right out of the box, which I swear no computer I have ever owned has done.

So yeah, I’m done with big ticket items of the year.  This put an end to the “will-I-or-won’t-I” go to Lady Gaga conversation I was having with myself.  But the best of all of this is that both my Madonna ticket and my computer are PAID FOR.  I did not charge one single cent – not quite true as I did charge it but paid it back right away.

The truth of the matter is that I couldn’t have done this without Heidi, not just because she was the rock for me again when I needed one although that was a huge part of it.  If she weren’t selling books and people weren’t buying them, there’s no way this could have happened.  When I finally bit the bullet and bought the computer, I worried that every time I sat down at it I would be wracked with guilt about how I shouldn’t have done it and how it was foolhardy.  Although I still get twinges of that (I am still me after all), I am mostly overwhelmed with a feeling of “she bought this for me.”

Honey, I love you.  You don’t ever get to go away.

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