my girlfriend's first computer

I have an amazing girlfriend. She's smart, beautiful, and my best friend. She's everything I could ever ask for, but my god is she technically challenged. It's not her fault. She was raised in a very traditional Greek household by her father and grandmother who were far from being tech-savvy. In her 21 years there has only ever been only one computer in her house, and it runs WindowME.

By comparison, I was born into technology. I'm a third-generation programmer, second-generation Linux user, and have been obsessed with computers my entire life. My connection to the internet and its tools is a core part of me, and I couldn't imagine my life with out it. While she studies chemistry in a lab with books and paper, I program in a terminal tunneled into a Linode running Vim.

Every ounce of work we do on a day to day basis seems to run parallel to one another. Hers exists in physical tangible form, and mine only as real as the pixels on my screen. The few times she does use a computer, she's writing in Microsoft Word, frustrated, slowly typing up her lab reports.

About a year ago I upgraded to an iPhone and gave her my old iPod Touch. It had a crack across the screen, the home button was worn in, and the back was scratched to hell. I felt guilty passing it on to her, but she happily accepted the gift. For the first few months she never seemed to use it. Every time I glanced at her home screen I saw the default layout of applications unchanged.

When the new school year started she realized it'd help to have her email easily accessible, and had me configure her school mail to go to the iPods email client. About a month later I saw her playing Words with Friends. Slowly over time she started to find more and more utility to the little cracked screen. Photos of her little white Terrier started appearing on Instagram. At night she cuddled with it in bed Facebooking until she fell asleep. During Christmas we bought her grandmother one so that they could FaceTime every day while she was at away school.

The other night it fell out of her bag at a friends house. We came back the next day to get it. It had been stepped on. The screen was shattered into a million pieces, the body was split open with no hope of snapping back together, and connecting ribbons ripped apart. She plugged it in and desperately tried it to turn on; to get some spark out of her little friend. It just sat there, dark, lifeless, crushed. Unsalvageable and beyond repair.

This little screen had brought the world to her. It let her play games with her friends who had moved far away. She saw her family whenever she wanted. It was her daily reference tool in the lab. She had never connected with a computer like that before, no other machine had ever brought her the same happiness.

For most of us it's easy to suck it up and move on to our next device. We've been doing it our entire lives, and the only thing that stops us from doing it more often is our wallets. But for her it's different. This wasn't an upgrade. It was an unexpected acquisition that wedged its way into her heart. For her, that crushed little screen was her friend.

I've just ordered her a new iPod Touch. The newest generation with a better screen, a better camera, and a shiny blue backing. It was a big price for my college student budget, but I really want her to feel what its like to own a gadget thats truly nice. Unfortunately, I know she won't ever love it the same way.

On the back I've had it engraved:

I am Ariane's iPod.

Please don't step on me.