Typewriter (Or what happens while I’m watching 40 students take an exam)

Suddenly I’m missing my trusty old typewriter where I typed my college application essay, the predecessors of these blogs, and my first collection of poems.

I miss the cool, black surface I often wiped with a piece of cloth until it shone. I miss the smooth keys that sometimes stick together when I accidentally press them two at a time and they fail to etch a letter on paper. I have to pry them apart and try again. I miss the rusty, somewhat loose cartridge, the ribbon that smudges and stains my fingers when I reposition it, the sounds made of 100 words per minutes—the clickety-clack of the keys, followed by a whirr at the end of the row, and then a ding. I miss the smooth typewriting paper. I miss the correction tape (not so much the messy correction fluid)—instant redemption for my every mistake. I miss how shift literally shifts the mechanism so that the upper symbols are printed instead of the ones at the bottom. I miss how you set the margins physically, but you have to gauge the bottom one or draw a thin horizontal line with a pencil to mark where your last line should be. I miss how I would spend hours sitting in front of that dependable machine, typing away while sipping coffee that goes from hot to cold too quickly.

If I had my typewriter now, I would type your name on it. I would do it letter by letter, uncharacteristically slowly, as if undressing in front of a lover. I would watch each key rise as I press it. Then, I will wait for the moment when the key and the ribbon meet, like lips pressed together for a kiss. I will watch each key wound the immaculate paper and leave each letter on it like a scar. And when all the letters are in place, I will roll out the paper and trace the indentations each key has made. Your name typed on paper, an anachronism, if there ever was one. Then I will read it out loud and pretend that I had known you back then. Back when there was plenty of time to write silly love poems and no one to read them. Back when there were lots of mixed tapes to make but not a lot of TV channels. Back when there was no email but there were love letters to write (and sometimes type) on cute stationery that sometimes smelled of strawberries. Back when I could have typed more than your name on paper.

The only imprints you will leave now are the ones carved deeply into my skin and inked with our own blood and tears—chronicles of the most atypical of kinships, defying time and other ties.


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