Dear iPod Classic,
You’re lying next to me as I type this, but it’s easier for me to write what I feel than it is to say it to you.
I just wanted to let you know that I value and appreciate you. You have now been by my side for a decade and although we’ve had a few rough patches (remember those dark times you said “iPod sync is complete” but there were actually no songs?), we’ve stayed together and I think our bond is stronger than ever.
I still remember the day we met. Ironically, my wife introduced us. She called you a “birthday gift” and bemusedly watched as I slid my fingers over your box before opening it up and revealing your gorgeous onyx complexion in the front and your behind with that unforgettable lower back tattoo: 160GB.
I had heard stories, but that night I discovered just how incredible your stamina was, being able to hold nearly 40,000 songs with no problem. Sometimes you need a break to recharge, but other than that, you’re always ready and willing. It doesn’t matter if it’s hip-hop or audiobooks or comedy albums. Regardless of what it is, you’re game. No days off. And for that I am grateful.
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You’re not sleek and shiny like you were when we met, but that’s part of the appeal — your scars are proof of all that we’ve been through together. We spend every day together, and many nights too. You’re by my side when I commute, when I’m in the office, and when I’m writing. You’ve been right there with me on road trips and vacations and cross-country flights.
You’ve always been there for me. In return, I’m loyal. I’m faithful. I don’t cheat. I don’t stream. I’ve seen men and women alike risk their entire collection — a lifetime of music — and give control over to Spotify or Apple or Beats One, but not me. They have nothing on you. They do nothing for me. They struggle to provide what you give effortlessly. Unlike everyone else I know, I won’t even let my phone anywhere near you or your songs. I like keeping you separate.
To show my appreciation, I’ve tried to spoil you. I’ve kept you draped in the best cases and have cleaned and polished you because I remember what it was like before you came along.
When I was fifteen years old and music was not just music but a way of life, the most important thing in the world to me, I dreamed of a large musical library of my own. I remember studying CD cases and linear notes. I remember lugging around a black book full of discs along with my discman, carefully switching one for another while being extremely careful not to scratch or smudge them. I never imagined being able to hold a collection in the palm of my hand, but you make it happen. Easily. And then you show off by going on shuffle with thirty-five years worth of songs from all over my collection randomly playing one after another. The first time it happened I couldn’t believe it was real.
I’ve had music players before, many of them in fact, even a few that I thought were the best, but none were like you. In the time we’ve been together, I’ve gone through at least ten pairs of earbuds. None of them could keep up with you. You’ve remained the constant. All of which makes your health problems so scary. You’re irreplaceable. They literally don’t make them like you anymore.
Every time I plug you in, I hold my breath, wondering if this is our last moment together. Seeing you hooked up to those wires, on life support, I ask myself is it worth it? Am I risking your life by adding another album or two?
When the nurse’s error message said, “There’s a problem with this drive. Scan the drive and fix it now,” I didn’t hesitate. Yes, scan the drive! Restore the iPod! Whatever it takes. Just fix it, dammit! That was a terrible night. I thought I had lost you and I couldn’t begin to imagine what I’d do next. Honestly, I’m not sure I’ll be able to cope with a life without you.
Everything dies. That’s the nature of existence. I know that. I’ve dealt with heartbreak, loss, and regret, and I know that the day will come when I will have to say goodbye to you. I already know that it will leave a hole in my life that can never be replaced, certainly not with a watch.
Until that day, though, I’ll just continue to appreciate every moment and pretend like the end will never come.