My first clock was a multi-colored alarm clock. I felt so grown up when I started needing to set an alarm in the morning. The world was waiting for me! I was eleven and Mom no longer wanted to wake up, round up and dress up four girls for school every morning. As the oldest, I had graduated to an alarm clock.
Birthday – where he sat – where in room
It was digital with a bright blue body. Lime green buttons shaped like bubbles sat on top. There was no radio. The numbers glowed purple in the dark. Love at first sight. It was the definitive mark of my maturity.
My love affair with the clock ended quickly. He was abusive. Every morning at 6 a.m. he began screaming relentlessly. His nonsensical, undeserved rants infuriated me, but left me no recourse. I bottled up my anger, feigned submission and crawled out of bed, dutifully tapping his head as he commanded.
I loved my first wrist watch too. It had a delicate golden face, with petite arms that swept minutes away like a beautiful girl sweeping her hair behind her ear. I felt elegant when I wore that watch. A stretch band fit snuggly around my wrist but pinched and pulled the little blond hairs on my arm.
She was my companion and savior. I looked to her for freedom – at the end of class in high school or the end of a long shift at work. For a while I abandoned her, thinking that without her time would actually go faster.
Grandma had a plethora of clocks and watches. Sometimes my sister had trouble sleeping at Grandma’s house because of the clocks’ late night conversations. “Click, tick.” “Cukoo, cukoo, cukoo, cukoo…” “Click, tick.” The noise didn’t bother me, but the green glowing numbers seemed like incessant fireflys.
Kelsey, another sister got her first watch when she was six. It was a Mickey Mouse watch with a 3 dimensional head as big as her fist. When the hour changed, Mickey opened his mouth and told everyone what time it was. One Sunday, Kelsey refused to be quiet in her Sunday school class so she joined us in big church. Mom must have forgotten about the watch, because right at noon Mickey announced, “It’s 12 o’clock and time for lunch!”
Grandma loved Disney. She wore a Mickey Mouse watch or a Pooh Bear watch. My favorite was her Goofy watch. He stood in the middle of the face and spun his arms backwards to mark the minutes. Grandma never knew what time it was when she was wearing Goofy.
When I was little I don’t remember Mom wearing anything but a basic black watch. Later, Daddy started buying her nice watches for gifts. Some of them were impractical, like the one with a mahogany face and gold arms. I couldn’t read the time when the light shone on it.
My husband still has the watch that he wore when I met him. He’s bought several watches since then, expensive watches, but he keeps coming back to his Casio.
The Suunto watch was the first expensive purchase we made together. While I was visiting him in Georgia, we hunted high and low for this special $200 watch. It had a compass and heart rate monitor. It knew the barometric pressure and the temperature. Eventually he decided that it was too big and retired the time piece to his bedside drawer.
Pulling out the stem or battery or hiding a watch doesn’t stop time.
In college the library had a steeple. You could see the steeple clock from almost anywhere in town and hear it farther than you could see it. When we go home to visit my in-laws, I smile nostalgically every time he sings. It makes me sad as he whisks away the minutes, hours and days we have with family.
When I was 25 I thought my grey-blue Timex was my best friend. I had taken up running and working out. I thought he made me look sporty. He used to time my intervals at the track and record the length of my runs. Together we got a little obsessive and he facilitated my spiral into exercise addiction and anorexia. At Remuda, one treatment center I went to, they took my Timex away. I didn’t know how freeing that could be. Maybe hiding a watch changes the way we think about time.
Until recent years, I thought every responsible adult wore a watch. Now sometimes when I ride the metro or sit in church or wait in line at the grocery store I poll how many wrists sport watches. Usually, there are more male than female wrists ringed with leather bands or metal links. But remarkably, there are fewer watches all together.
Yesterday, at the dog park, my numbing toes hinted that I had been standing outside for too long. I asked Barney’s master what time it was and fumbled in his coat pocket. In past generations I expect he would have withdrawn a pocket watch. In 2011 he pulled out his smart phone. “It’s 12 o’clock and time for lunch!”