Coming in from sweeping the leaves and musing on one of the few benefits of lockdown, a distinct decline in takeaway wrappers tossed over the front wall, I say, to nobody in particular,
“Why do so many houses along here still have their Christmas lights up?”
My daughter is hunched over her laptop systematically changing passwords so I join her at the table and flip the lid on mine.
I am drafting a response to a question from someone who has just been dumped by his girlfriend, wants to know why she left him and how to get her back.
I write words he does not want to read but the ones I feel he needs.
I tell him, in a gentler and more roundabout way than I’m telling you, that he is asking the wrong questions because instead of wondering why it happened he’s much better off asking how to recover from it.
Earlier I’d been reading a report in the New York Times about people who invested in Bitcoin years ago and might potentially be multi-millionaires now if they could only remember the passwords to the hard drives on which they stored the relevant data.
It reminded me of the man in the paper last week who had thrown out a hard drive with Bitcoin on it years ago and was now pleading with the council to let him excavate landfil to try and find his treasure.
He offered to share the spoils with them, they said no, but he keeps trying.
It feels as if he too may be asking the wrong question and mourning a life he cannot live while allowing the one he has to pass him by.
I wonder if technology really has made our lives simpler because it has a way of feeling much more complicated than it ever was.
We’re trying to stream the first series of “Back” but we can’t connect the account from my phone to the TV. It says it doesn’t recognise the password.
There are so many streaming services now that some of them have streaming services within the first streaming service, all requiring additional passwords.
“I don’t know how anyone remembers all of their passwords all of the time. It was easier when there were three channels and nothing on any of them”
My children roll their eyes.
“Have you finished with your password changes yet?” I ask my daughter.
“Not yet. It got annoying so I’m leaving it until tomorrow.”
“Why are you changing them all anyway?”
“Tom and Lena’s friend had her bank account cleaned out when she got a phishing email that looked as if it was from her boss, so I’m making sure all mine are secure”
“Choose really difficult ones”
“I’m trying but it keeps telling me they’re too easy”
“Get the app to set them”
“I’m worried that if I do that it won’t save them properly and I’ll be locked out of all my accounts.”
I have a vision of my daughter digging through council landfill with a small trowel.
As the darkness falls I go to the window to pull the curtains.
I look at the houses up and down the road.
“The lights are still up,” I say to my daughter.
“It’s a show of defiance,” she says without lifting her eyes from her screen.
“Well, the pandemic. They’re doing something to show they won’t be beaten down by it. It’s a way of making people feel better about something they can’t change.”
I watch the gentle soothing pulse of the lights for a while and wait for spring.