Exactly one year and two days ago, whilst en route to Dundee Literary Festival, I left my laptop with everything I’ve ever written on it at a table in the Edinburgh Waverley Station branch of Costa Coffee. It was backed up. (I’m not that stupid). Only problem was the external hard drive with all the back ups was inside my lap top case. (I am absolutely that stupid). Through a fortuitous, some might say miraculous, serious of events, the laptop was returned to me intact exactly one year ago today. There were tears. There was much joy. There were many, many extra backing up devices received as Christmas presents last year. If you don’t know the full story you can read a short blog about it here.
A lot has happened in a year. I’ve learnt how to religiously back up my work every time I finish a writing session. I’ve taken to wearing my laptop strapped to my body, like a particularly clingy kind of child, every time I leave the house. Very excitingly, the manuscript feared lost in the debacle has found a publisher home and will, if nothing similarly disastrous happens, be appearing at some stage in early 2019. (More about that later). I’ve even conquered my fear of Waverley Station, though it took strong coffee and the company of Sinead Morrissey to walk me through my post-traumatic flashbacks. All is well in the world of lost laptops and public transport, but I’ve decided to repost this wee blog anyway and I think I will, every year on October 22nd, and I’ll probably continue to refer to this date as Miracle Day in my head for a number of reasons.
I have a really clear memory of phoning home from a hotel room in Dundee on October 20th and saying, “another bad thing has happened. I’ve lost my laptop. It’s pretty awful, but I guess I’ll get through this too.” Last Autumn wasn’t a terribly good time for me. I was miserable at work. I was permanently exhausted. I was trying to maintain a house that was much too big for me and struggling with writers’s block and all manner of other, not-exactly-life-ruining-but-still-pretty-rubbish situations. When I look back now, I realise that October 22nd was exactly the point where everything started to change for the better. Some of the difficult situations rectified themselves. I also made some big, but ultimately really great, life changes. However, more importantly something inside me just took a turn for the more hopeful on the afternoon of October 22nd. I really thought I’d never see any of my writing again. I thought I’d have to star again building up my word. I was resigned to being disappointed. The previous year had taught me how to soldier on through one mediocre situation after another and I was pretty good at things going wrong. Then, all of a sudden, two complete strangers are fishing my laptop out from down the side of a dishwasher, and I am suddenly reminded that everything doesn’t always turn out terrible in the end, that tiny, little miracles and bloody, great enormous ones, are inclined to happen all the time and perhaps, in the future, I should hold myself in the posture of anticipating fortuitous success, rather than crushing disappointment. I wish I hadn’t had to lose my laptop to learn this, but hey ho, it was well worth the experience. As I said, it’s always going to be Miracle Day, for me; a timely reminder to keep my chin up even during the direst of circumstances.
In some weird way, it was also Miracle Day for a bunch of other people too, many of whom I don’t even know. I was absolutely blown away by how many friends, strangers and members of the transport police, immediately jumped in to offer assistance when my laptop first disappeared. Messages, Tweets, phone calls and offers of help were came flying in from all roads and directions. (I shall tactfully ignore those individuals who immediately asked why I hadn’t backed my writing up more thoroughly – SYMPATHY FIRST, JUDGMENT LATER PEOPLE!!!). However, it was when we found the laptop that I actually got some sense of how many people were emotionally tied up in the hunt. I got nearly 400 likes on Facebook, 125 happy comments, 15 shares, spawning hundreds more likes from people who are complete strangers to me. I’ve posted some pretty sweet news in the past, but I’d have to come back from the flipping dead or something, to get that much positive attention again. For weeks after, friends were stopping me to say how happy they’d been to hear everything had turned out ok. Strangers approached me at events and asked, “are you the lost laptop girl?” and I didn’t even mind that I was now more famous for losing my stupid laptop than writing books. Everyone said the same thing. A kind of paraphrased version of, we really thought you weren’t going to get it back. We’re so happy you did. Makes you think that good things still happen. Or to quote, the lovely Gerard Brennan directly, “Faith in humanity restored. This really cheered me up.” Thanks extended community. I really appreciated everything you did to help, and the timely reminder that we’re all a little more connected than we think we are.
The world is arguably even more screwed up than it was this time last year but I’m still going to celebrate Miracle Day anyway because a. the wonderful souls, who are doing their best to help, still outnumber the bastardly elements and b. really, really good things can still happen every so often and when they do, you need to shout about them, just in case someone else needs a timely reminder. So, Happy Miracle Day everyone. I hope you find a fiver you’d forgotten about in your jeans, (before you wash them). I hope you win that short story competition you entered six months ago and have forgotten all about. I hope the really hot man, is in the seat next to you on your next Easyjet flight. And I hope your lost laptops always come home to you, (though it might be best not to tempt fate, and back that novel up anyway).