Like lots of other things that have been made easier with time, the telling of it (of time, that is) has become more convenient and much less of a learned skill. Analog clocks and watches gave way to digital versions gave way to smart devices (making those clocks and watches virtually unnecessary.) But for those of us who grew up telling time as more of a story (“it’s twenty to three” versus “it’s 2:40” or “it’s almost a quarter after eleven” instead of “it’s 11:13”), those timepieces strike more of a chord.
After this last strange, strange (to put it mildly) year-plus, where time just seemed to melt into itself, making every day the same as the one before, my watch is now making its cautious re-entry into the world (just like the rest of us). And while I had been depending on my laptop clock for the occasional update, now I’m looking at my wrist again – the way I have ever since I was a little girl, looking at my very first watch. To wit:
That first one had a pink strap and the beautiful Cinderella (whom else?) on its face. I wore that watch proudly, probably from kindergarten through first or second grade, when it was then relegated to a drawer because I had outgrown its childish design. While I no longer have the band, I do still have the watch – pink hands and all – a reminder of a time when growing up to be Cinderella was my life’s ambition. That and dancing in a pink tutu in the Nutcracker Suite in front of the Queen of England. And winning the Miss America Pageant in Atlantic City.
Flash forward through all kinds of Sixties and Seventies “mod” watches – including those where you could “change the band to match your every outfit or mood!” until we land on the gold-toned “bangle watch” my parents gave me for my bat mitzvah. It was meant for “dressy” occasions and to celebrate that I was moving into young womanhood. But to me it symbolized something different – how many more anguishing minutes I would have to endure being the center of attention in the synagogue and how much longer until I could escape back to the peacefulness of my books.
The years passed – college, a career starting and flowering, my growing into who I was meant to be – and so did a few other watches. When I came out to the West Coast to start my life with B. (after having known each other for a mere 22 years), I bought myself a new watch. A new time in my life was starting, and I wanted to capture every minute, every second. That silvery, cobalt-blue-faced Seiko was my gift to myself, a congratulations for finally finding the right person, the right direction, and the right time to give a piece of my heart away (whom am I kidding – he has my whole heart).
After we got married, I gave B. my late father’s watch – a classic gold tank on a black leather band. I was passing something I loved from a man I adored to this man who means everything to me. It was a beautiful watch and B. wore it for years until it could no longer be repaired. But he still keeps it in a drawer as a reminder of us starting out. (Yes, it shares space with the Cinderella watch – sue me for being sentimental.)
Today I wear a stainless steel bracelet-style watch with a silvery-white face, Roman numerals (talk about a lost art), a tiny date box (too small to read without my glasses), and a second hand (for some reason, I really like that feature). Nothing fancy, but comfortable, comforting in its reliability, and completely at home on my wrist.
Some days I wish I could speed it up, to get past the tough times we’re all facing; most days I wish I could slow it down to savor all the good moments. More and more these days, looking at it actually reminds me to take a breath and take a moment to consider how far I’ve come – before I pick up my pace so that I’m not late for the next thing.
©2021 Claudia Grossman