The Thing I Bought This Year with a Scary Price Tag

This year, I bought a MacBook Pro Retina, the first day it was available for purchase. I’m still not sure yet if it was a mistake.

My boyfriend, who knows much more about technology than I do, talked me into it, for very valid reasons. I work at home and spend most of my waking hours on my computer. I sold my two-year-old MacBook for a pretty decent percentage of the original purchase price, and reselling a Retina in a few years will obviously earn more than selling a cheaper model. And, come on, the Retina is super cool—those Apple commercials still have the same shiny allure even after 10 years of laptop ownership that’s way more ordinary and frustrating than you imagine when first buying into that streamlined Apple lifestyle.

When I hit the purchase button on the Apple website, my heart clenched. I had never bought anything that expensive in my entire life, and I was already terrified to own it, or to take it to the various conferences and festivals that my job requires. I didn’t even want to tell anyone I’d bought it, because everybody knew this was the slick, expensive new laptop, and I didn’t want to be one of those people lured in by any new technology, especially the ones at ridiculous prices.

But of course, I was totally lured in—the Retina screen was awesome, the processor blazing fast, and so many basic functions of my job instantly became easier. It was like the relief you feel any time you get a new, faster computer, but quadrupled.

At the same time, the perils of being an early adopter cropped up fast. I took the computer in to the Genius Bar twice within five months of owning it, for a busted pixel on that lovely screen and for a trackpad that suddenly stopped functioning. It was fixed promptly and perfectly (gotta love Apple Care), but it didn’t alleviate that sense that I had jumped too soon on to a bandwagon I didn’t even know I cared about.

On some level, I guess buying the laptop—entirely on my own and with cash—was a move toward a grown-up status and an investment in a career in writing that I love. At the same time, it’s an indication of all the terrifying price tags that this grown-up status will come with—and how many more times I’ll probably feel a pit in my stomach purchasing something, without ever knowing for sure if I actually need it.

 

Katey Rich writes mostly about movies at Cinema Blend.

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