This Model is Unsupported, by Charlotte Kaufman

Charlotte and Cora Kaufman. Sailing across the Sea of Cortez from La Paz to La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, Nayarit. December 2013.

Charlotte and Cora Kaufman. Sailing across the Sea of Cortez from La Paz to La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, Nayarit. December 2013.

This Model is Unsupported, by Charlotte Kaufman

I plugged the Kindle into my laptop today and it didn’t register as a device on my computer. There were my Documents, my Downloads, my Pictures, the Google Drive back up, but no Kindle.

I restarted my laptop. I unplugged the Kindle. Turned it on, then off. Tried again.

No Kindle.

I could feel the hurt welling up. A pebble transforming into a lump and then a stone. An inability to swallow down the pain of loss and my first thought was WRITE. Write about the little Kindle that could. Don’t cry until you’re writing, I told myself. That’s the best way for you to let tears fall freely. Like when you wrote about saying goodbye to Rebel Heart. To the feeling of the Sunbrella stretched taut on the dodger under your hands. Her tall, white mast, your family’s haven, your daughters’ only home since birth. Of the terrifying feeling of jumping from ships and the height of those waves. Certain death a fraction of an inch away. Wrong jump? Guess incorrectly? A cracked ribcage between two hulls.

Everything rushing in those moments of rescue. The Pararescuemen calling for me.  Good men with good intentions. Of my refusing to rush. (I wouldn’t have refused if I had been any younger. A younger Charlotte would have obeyed). But I refused. I stopped and said thank you to Rebel Heart. I sent all my love and support to her before she embarked on her next and final journey into the deeps. Underwater to live. The whole of her consumed by barnacles, and crabs, and slithering creatures of the deep. And she kept us safe and we were sinking her.

Amazon said that the Kindle was over 10-years-old and that they no longer provide updates or backups for my model. “Would you like to take this credit towards a new version? This one will be unsupported moving forward.”


Unsupported like me when I left my parents’ home at 16.

Unsupported like parenting in America.

I chose the unsupported model.

The Kindle still worked. I could read each page except for the top right sentence. A relic of when Cora had dropped it, shattering the pixels on that portion of the screen. The pink, rubber cover, forever coated in a fine dusting of Baja sand that I could never get clean again. The scratches on the bottom left corner from … what? Who knew? Were they from surviving the rescue? From being tossed from one ship to another ship with the bag that held our Kindles, our laptops, and our passports? From being hoisted into the air along the side of a battleship, the great ship listing in the swell and buffeted by the wind of the approaching squall, my knuckles white in terror as the tiny RHIB bucked forward and sent us toppling against the rubber sides.

I knew it would die one day. An unsupported model. I just thought it wouldn’t be today. Not today. Not any day. Please, not ever. We have so little that survived. Give me one thing that survived. One tiny memento. The Kindle I rested on my pregnant belly, while I lay in bed miserable, sick, and sometimes suicidal during my first pregnancy. The Kindle where I uploaded and read an early draft of my friend’s first book. The Kindle I slipped under the pillows and out of the way when Eric and I made love in the V-berth.

‘At least the four of you survived.’

‘That’s what really matters.’

Of course it is.

But I can hold both truths at the same time. The gratitude that my family is whole after a rescue at sea, and the grieving of a truncated dream. Of the impossibility of ever saying goodbye with ritual, with respect. There was only the one moment of rushing, when I disobeyed, (thank god for growing older and growing more defiant). For that one tiny moment when the world grew quiet and I told her thank you before she sank below the surface, unsupported.

#TheThingAboutThings #RebelHeartBook #RebelHeart #KidsOnBoats #WomenWhoSail #CharlotteKaufman #IAlreadyMissMyKindle #AmazonKindle #ItsTheLittleThings

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If this is the first time you are reading my writing or learning about the rescue at sea that happened to us, here’s the backstory. In March 2014, we set sail from Puerto Vallarta with our two young daughters on our sailboat, Rebel Heart. During the passage, our 13 month old fell ill. A cascading series of events resulted in our calling for help. Activating our rescue beacon meant saving our baby and also losing our boat (and only home). We hit the button and survived a dramatic at-sea rescue but returned to international media criticism about our parenting. While the world debated our child rearing choices, I wrestled with the trauma of the rescue, the loss of our dream, and whether or not my relationship was strong enough to survive.

You can read my recent article in HuffPost about the events and my thoughts here:

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I have recently completed my manuscript about the events described above and am represented by Aemilia Phillips and David Patterson at Stuart Krichevsky Literary Agency. For updates on my upcoming memoir, you can follow me on social media and sign up for my email newsletter.

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