- stan ft. dido by eminem
Work today, as usual. Be sure to work diligently on whatever your division is up to. Apple Campus is in full work mode.
“It’s so good to have you home, Sash. We really missed you.” My mom kissed each of my cheeks twice, imposing her sticky red lipstick into the pores of my skin. I wiped it away hastily, shooting a look at my dad who smiled back at me and winked. He had been out of the hospital for a while now, ever since his heart attack, and his health was slowly but surely recovering from the episode. It was a comforting thought but I still worried nonetheless. My father spread himself too thin, I felt, and I feared that maybe there would be a next time, and maybe that next time he wouldn’t be okay. But I couldn’t let myself think like that; thinking like that only did more harm than good.
“I’ve missed you guys too,” I admitted honestly as my father pulled me into the threshold of my childhood home, wrapping his arms around my shoulders and pressing me against his chest. His beard was even more overgrown and shaggy than it was last I saw him but he was still a very handsome man. I always admired my father and hoped that one day, I’d grow up and meet a man like him. I guess that’s what they always say, right? Girls marry their fathers.
I hadn’t been back to my parents’ house in a while, even though we technically lived in the same city. They lived in a more… urban sector, while my home was positioned amongst legions my fellow Silicon Valley colleagues. Not that they didn’t make good money – they certainly did, but living where we lived, in the house we lived in, created a real sense of modesty in us growing up. We weren’t poor but we weren’t rich either and that’s one thing my parents always strived to instill in Rob and I – never to feel entitled and to work hard for everything.
“How’s work been, sweet pea?” My father asked, running a hand through his dirty blonde hair and ushering me towards the living room.
“I’ll get you two some tea!” My mother cried before scurrying off towards the kitchen.
We both sat and settled on the same old couches we’ve had since I was a teenager. It was nostalgic to see them, even if they were just dingy old couches.
I then realized I had never answered his question. “It’s good, daddy,” I nodded with a tight smile. “Been working on some new projects. Hopefully 2013 will end well.”
“It’s been a good fiscal year for you, kid,” he wagged his finger at me knowingly. “How’s that million dollar mansion of yours faring?”
“Oh hush,” I waved him off. I hated talking money especially when my parents still lived in the same house they had from the 70s. After I got promoted to an executive position at Apple, I offered to buy them a new home but both refused. Good, old fashioned, hard working people.
“Come on, Sash,” my dad grinned, knocking his knee into my own. “You’ve got be living nice up there, eh?”
I only shrugged and turned a deeper shade of red in response.
“You know,” he sat back, propping his knee up on top of his other leg and looking towards the direction of the fireplace. On its mantel sat Rob’s and my high school senior portraits. Then my Stanford graduation photo positioned to the right. Rob’s own San Jose State graduation shot to the left. A little shrine dedicated to us, his children. “I’m so proud of you too,” he shook his head, seemingly at a loss of words. “Both you and Rob are such amazing people, Sasha. You both are so successful and so well off and just so… content with your work and your lives and you’re both at really good, solid, healthy places. That’s all I could ever want for you as a parent.”
His eyes were red rimmed and tears lined his cornea. I hated seeing my father cry. It made me cry and I hated crying, especially with company.
“Daddy-” I started, but he cut me off.
“I know your mother always says she wants you and Rob to get married and have children but honestly, I don’t give a rat’s ass about that at this point, kid. I’m just so f*cking proud…” He rubbed his hand along his jaw as my mother returned with a kettle of tea and three cups.
“Here you go. Your favorite – green – Sasha.”
I smiled up at her. “Thanks, mommy.”
“Thanks, Arden,” my dad added.
I poured myself a cup of tea before standing up, scratching my scalp. There was a reason I wanted to make the trip back home on my lunch hour besides visiting with my parents, though they both were awesome. I stood, holding my drink carefully. “Um, I’ll be right back… I just wanted to check some stuff out in the garage…”
Both my parents only smiled knowingly as I took the familiar route down the hall towards the side door. Our garage was probably the biggest room in the house, considering my father renovated his old office into a half storage room, half play room for Rob and I in the back, in order to actually fit my parents cars’ into where dad had previously stored all of his junk. I think it was just some kind of unspoken rule that dads had to be pack rats. Anyway, I guess he never anticipated that his storage room would turn into my workbench. The majority of my teenage years had been spent there. As I stepped inside, images of my high school years came flooding back, memories of sitting on our old Macintosh desktop, coding webpages and hacking social media sites. Then when I got into computer hardware, taking things apart, putting them back together again. I had tinkered endlessly in the garage and it was where I felt safe.
I opened the door and stepped inside. I flicked the nearby light switch up as the single bulb on the ceiling flashed on, casting an orange glow on the entire rectangular room. I spotted my old Grateful Dead and Eminem posters on the wall and smiled, remembering the day I put it up in tenth grade like it was yesterday. A small wooden table sat in the corner and on top, sat dusty, old hardware parts, a screwdriver, and various other black and red wires. They must have been important, since they were still lying face up, waiting for my return, but clearly, their importance had evaded me now. I sat down on the black office chair my mother had gotten for me as a Christmas gift one year and stared at the parts before me, setting my teacup down on the far side of the table.
I had been so preoccupied with marketing ads lately that I hadn’t even touched the inside of a computer in months. This made me saddest of all.
I splayed my hand out on top of the technology, wiping away the age and feeling the cool metal surface beneath my touch. It felt good, relaxing, everything I wanted and everything I needed. I breathed a deep sigh of relief and picked up a pair of small tweezers and almost immediately began working, attempting to piece together and salvage whatever of this old industrial science I could.
I was probably only really in the garage for a few minutes but it felt like I had been stationed in that chair, at that desk ever since 2003.
A knock sounded on the door. I turned and spied my mother in the frame. She wore a giddy smile on her face, one I couldn’t quite place. It was a bit suspicious, to say the least.
“Sasha, dear,” she breathed, still wearing that sneaky grin, “someone is here to see you.”
Instantly, my first thought flashed to Collin. No. He wouldn’t do that, come here, to my parents’ house, especially since he was the one who wanted to break up with me. Yeah, no; ex nay on that possibility.
I had no idea as to who it could be. James? No, he was all the way in Redwood City, at Oracle. Besides, how would he even know it was my lunch break and that I was here, of all places? Nat and J? They could’ve easily gone to my secretary and found out where I was. But they wouldn’t do that. They’d try to contact me first. I was all out of options.
I followed my mother back through the house and found myself standing face to face with Steve Wozniak.
I stared at him dumbfounded, unsure of what to do, what to say. Long before I started working at Apple, before I even dared to /think/ I’d be in marketing, Steve Wozniak was my idol. A master of hardware design and development, he was the great prop master behind Steve Jobs’ stunts. He was a legend and he changed my life, in ways I could never even adequately explain.
Besides, how does one computer geek go about having The Woz in her childhood living room?
“Hello Ms. Wallace,” Steve Wozniak took a step towards me, holding his hand out in my direction, the same hands that held the pliers that made my entire life. I cleared my throat and took it in my own. “It’s nice to finally meet you. I’ve heard plenty of good things.”
How Steve Wozniak had heard about /me/, I wasn’t sure. I mean, I was pretty big at Apple but I didn’t think my celebrity branched too far out after that.
“I don’t even know what to say,” I blurted, flabbergasted still. “It’s such an honor to be in your presence, Mr. Wozniak.”
“Steve,” he smiled kindly. “Or The Woz, if you’d like.”
Jesus, he was everything I always thought he would be.
“Sasha,” I replied, remembering the formal title he announced on me first.
“Would you like some tea, Steve?” My mother questioned.
He nodded in response. “Sure, sounds lovely! Thank you.”
My father had disappeared from the living room and my mother was off in the kitchen again, leaving us alone.
“I recently watched a few of the Get A Mac ads again,” Steve brought up after we both sat on those same couches I had been reminiscing about earlier. “They’re really smart, Sasha. Witty, clever, thoughtful. I also heard a lot of good stuff about your new iPhone campaign.”
“You heard about that?” I asked, suddenly wishing I had brought my tea back inside with me from the garage, at least to have something to do with my hands.
“Of course,” Steve nodded. “I spoke with Tim Cook earlier today. It’s why I’m here now, actually. I had stopped by Apple Campus to find you and was directed off to San Jose to find you here.”
Me?!?! I had almost said it aloud but actually enforced self-control for once.
Wozniak nodded. “I’m sure you’re well aware that Saturday is the anniversary of Steve’s death…” he didn’t have to elaborate on which Steve he was speaking about, at least not to me. I’d never forget October 5th for as long as I lived. I not only lost an idol, a mentor, and a legend, but a coworker, a boss, a counterpart. A visionary, the greatest one of them all.
I nodded, willing Wozniak to continue.
“Laurene is hosting a memorial at their home in his honor,” he stated. I already knew this. I had my personal invitation from Laurene Powell – Jobs herself sitting atop my desk back in the marketing department of Apple Campus. I wouldn’t have missed the event for the world. “I actually spoke with her earlier in the week and we decided we wanted to do something special for the occasion, something everyone could enjoy, and after consoling with Tim, we figured you were most apt to help us.”
“What did you have in mind?” I inquired, my voice sounding so meek and small.
“It’s quite cheesy and overdone, but we wanted to have a little film piece to play at the service. Photos and video clips and such. And we were hoping you’d help us. I know it’s not a marketing project and you’re very busy back at Apple, but it shouldn’t take you too long. Just a few hours on iMovie, that’s all,” we both smiled at his mention of the Apple program.
“I’d love to,” I nodded firmly. “Honestly.”
He produced a flash drive from his pocket and held it out for me. “Laurene and I already went through and saved a lot of photos and videos from her own personal collection. I know you have some photos of the two of you too and we thought if you needed anything else, Tim Cook could help with that.”
I took the flash drive from him and held it in my palms like it was the Holy Grail. Technically, it was my Holy Grail.
My mother returned with the tea for Wozniak and smiled kindly at him.
“Thank you, Mrs. Wallace,” he smiled back.
“Arden,” she replied happily before heading off to join her husband, leaving me solely in the presence of Steve Wozniak again.
“I heard you were a hardware engineer before you were in marketing,” he began.
I felt bubbles swell up in my chest. I hadn’t been acknowledged for my work in computers in a long time.
You know what they say; never leave two computer geeks alone together because you never know what trouble they could get into.
(type 'you still ain't calling' if you read it all)