Last week, my iPod died. And it wasn't a temporary death, a single charge able to bring it back. No, this was permanent. After many years at my side and in my pocket, it shuffled off its digital coil, heading to that giant iCloud in the sky.
My iPhone came to me in college, at a time in my life when I really needed it. My Discman had just suffered a regrettable accident and wouldn't stop skipping, making it difficult to listen
to my jamz. I thought that my iPod was just a rebound piece, since I believed at the time that technology was cyclical (I still hadn't really figured out email in the hopes that popularity would circle back to regular mail). The iPod was digital, and I was analog, yet somehow an instant bond was forged. It taught me the joy of having more than one music option, its 120 GB of memory a deep chasm that I could only hope to fill.
Now, I don't have children, and I've never really bonded with an animal. But I did raise an iPod. I took care of its infancy, providing it with the basics that it needed to survive (weekly charges, software updates) and the things it needed to thrive (The Beatles, Tori Amos, Fleetwood Mac). I watched as it got closer to its capacity, filling up podcasts and music, some with a shorter shelf life than milk. I made some mistakes (the large dent in the back is proof of that), but I was always there to pick my iPod up when it fell down. And, when it got older, I made sure it stayed warm and protected, as the slightest temperature change could make it shut down for an entire day. And, in turn, it supplied me with sweet tunes. It made me laugh, and, as it probed the depths of my consciousness, it also helped me cry. It knew the deepest recesses of my soul, putting a Lisa Loeb ditty on when I needed it most or a Loggins & Messina riff into my ears when I didn't know what I needed.
Of course, as time went on, it got more worn down. Its reaction times were slower, its touchpad became less sensitive (and at times completely useless). As a last-ditch effort to save my iPod, I had the hard drive replaced, effectively wiping clean everything that my iPod was and replacing it with a cheap facsimile. At the time, I thought I was helping it. When my iPod came back to me, though, it wasn't the same. It glitched all the time, it contained way too much classical Indian music. It seemed incapable of playing anything from The Lonely Island or Destiny's Child, and it never let me get more than a half hour into a podcast without shutting down. It made weird creaking sounds that, until that point, I had only ever associated with old homes. It wasn't my vibrant, youthful iPod anymore. It was old, its internal machinery now matching the dents and scrapes on its exterior.
Then, a few weeks ago, just as I was adding in the Veronica Mars soundtrack and a Jill Sobule cover of an old Warren Xevon song, it happened. With a lurch and a deafening clunk, my iPod went dark. The light was gone from the screen, never to return.
In the weeks since my iPod's passing, other technology has risen up to fill the gap. I put a few playlists on my iPhone, and I've begun looking at new and refurbished iPods online (my unused Zune will stay in its box, untouched). But the memories of the time I spent with my iPod remain: the ends of friendships that it got me through, the work struggles it played me past, the more difficult television series finales it spent by my side, the rap music it played for me during that week I tried to work out. Of course, it's easy to think only kind thoughts, but my iPod and I had our dark times as well. There was that house party where it played three songs from the Side Show Original Cast Recording in a row. There was that time it just deleted half my music catalog with no warning whatsoever. Sill, there will always be a place for my iPod, even if I can't carry it in my pocket. To paraphrase the poem that Cameron Diaz reads in that movie about shoes, I carry my iPod with me. I carry it in my heart. Anywhere I go, it goes.
Goodbye, old friend.