By Anna Sorokina, arts & entertainment columnist

It was 7:08 p.m. Nov. 4 when I paid for my large dark roast coffee and sat down at a table by the window. Ready to work on the dreaded 12-page research paper, I turned my laptop on and, upon realizing my coffee was too bitter, quickly walked to the milk and sugar station. fifteen seconds later, I returned to my table just to see that my laptop was gone.

I froze in the middle of the cafe, looked around in panic, and ran out after remembering who last left the coffee shop. A few feet away from the cafe, I stopped an old lady, who earlier smiled at me as I was pouring milk into my coffee, and asked her if she took my laptop. She looked confused, but I checked her bags and found nothing but a few books. I apologized profusely and returned to the store.

For a second I thought I was losing my mind. Maybe I didn’t bring my Mac there and it was actually sleep deprivation that was playing evil tricks on me. As I stood there, turning at each sound, the manager tapped me on the shoulder and said they had camera footage of a guy coming in, grabbing my computer and walking away.

The bargaining stage of grief kicked in, and a million thoughts rushed through my head: “If only I didn’t leave to pour milk into my coffee. If only I poured milk into my coffee faster. If only I was paying attention to my surroundings. If only I stayed at home and drank tea.”

An hour later, a police officer arrived to the cafe to help me file a report. He wrote down “MacBook Pro, 2008, silver, Russian keyboard, stickers on the front” and added that a detective would get in touch with me sometime in the next two weeks. I smiled to myself when I realized how disappointed the thief would be: An eight-year-old laptop with a Cyrillic alphabet. It wasn’t worth much itself, but I did care for what was inside: the photos I took, the poems I wrote, the papers I hadn’t yet turned in.

As I was walking home and looking at the night sky, I put everything into perspective. As much as we seem to be obsessed with material possessions, what we truly value cannot be touched, torn apart or lost. Memories are not contained in photos; they live deep inside my head. Papers can be written and rewritten because they are simply a product of my intellect and my writing abilities. Things that I value cannot be taken away from me while I’m pouring milk into my coffee and in that – there is beauty.