Before I was introduced to the computer and its sleek keyboard when I was ten years old, I already had a few years’ experience with my Popc’s typewriter. It was originally my grandmother’s, which she passed on to my Momc, and then used by Popc because he was always writing articles for SunStar. Eventually, the eldest (nerdy) daughter “inherited” it.
I don’t remember what brand the typewriter was, but I remember that it was cream-colored, and stained with ink and white liquid eraser. It was heavy by itself, and was always kept in a black hard plastic case.
As I write about it now, I can practically feel the glossy surface of its keys, and the depth of each quick tap. I can hear the noise of the typebars against the platen, and smell the ink from the ribbon as it is imprinted on the paper. Popc always reminded me to roll in two sheets of paper so avoid damaging the platen.
I miss the feel of jerking the carriage return lever to the right to start on a new line. Sure, the keyboard’s Enter key is faster and more accurate, but there is something about spacing the lines yourself that makes the composition even more…personal.
I even miss how the typebars would get tangled up whenever I typed too fast or pressed way too many keys simultaneously. Prying them apart usually resulted in blackened fingers. I hated it, but it doesn’t mean I don’t miss it.
I miss changing the ribbons. When the rest of the world moved on to computers and printers, and demoted the typewriter to obsolescence, Popc stopped using the typewriter and didn’t buy any more ribbons. I was forced to keep reusing and flipping the one ribbon left until it was riddled with holes and its marks slowly faded.
I imagined myself making my first novel with that typewriter. I typed poems, lyrics, and lists just for the fun of it. My first serious draft, which was a 103-page English-French romance short story, was completed using that typewriter. I was only 14 then, so when I found that draft three years later, I used the back as scratch papers for algebra homework.
Our high school batch was probably the last to take Typewriting class. I was so ecstatic, because even when we were blindfolded during the typing test, I was still able to receive top marks without ever having my fingers shoot through the holes between the keys or have my typebars get tangled. My classmates weren’t so lucky. But I was so proud of myself, that when I got home, I slept with the typewriter on the table next to the bed. Typewriting class was mine.
Finally, when Typewriting was replaced with Keyboarding, I was forced to finally give up on the typewriter. Besides, the ribbon had given up on me first. The Pink Palace had finally heard the last of the clacking noise, and the typewriter case was tucked to a corner, right beside the new computer desk. There it got covered in dust and cobwebs, never to be used again.
I think the typewriter is still there, waiting for me to run my fingers along its keys, replace its worn-out ribbon, and type up another draft.
I searched online (Etsy, Craigslist, eBay) for typewriters recently. They are now classified as antique or vintage. Working ones run for at least $150. One of these days, I will buy myself one. And I will stock up on ribbons.