There it was…a silver Timex, displayed securely in a case at my Joslins Department Store. The moment was 1979 and I was nineteen years old, treating myself the day before starting my first full time job. Where did the time go?
I don’t know about you, but a sense of power was associated with a watch at my house. My father always had his, even in later years when he messed with a toothpick setting his newfangled LED version…his wrist was never bare. I too, always wore a watch, dating back to a childhood Christmas, when my niece and I received leather strapped Cinderella ones, complete with ceramic figure. Then later when I thought I was cool, I needed a time peace in keeping with my hippie state of mind, and a three inch band with brass snaps held Snoopy in place, along with some great hand tooled leather.
In many ways, those watches also represented the time we lived, more than just the time of day. There was a responsibility back then to know the hour, where we needed to be and of course just the ability to help, should someone ask, do you have the time? The validity behind such a request, has long been set to song lyrics and movie scripts…time and time again, because we are always concerned with where we are, and where we may be going…even if we are nowhere near Chicago.
In my life I’ve watched time fade, and as my parents aged, their gift giving became predictably comical, when right on time, each birthday or Christmas, they inevitably gave one another a new watch. After they both had passed away, I looked into the boxes once kept on dressers and smiled, as several Timex, Bolivia, LED and Waltham’s looked back with tired faces, no longer held by aging hands. True to fact…time never lasts as long as we think it will.
From the vast array of watches I have worn, there appears to be a statement of not just the times that were a changing, but what I once valued and how careful I watched it. After that first day of work, there would be many other timepieces accessorizing my attire…rings and pins, pendants that opened, some that were straight forward and a few with small diamonds trying to sparkle in the darkness. Each one ticking me into a new day, closing out the one I had been living, and keeping me on track to care for my family…minute by minute they each reminded me what needed to come next.
The last watch I regularly wore, was a very expensive solid gold and jewel encrusted Victorian slide bracelet. Each gold charm had emotional value, a daughter’s birthstone, a diamond cross and an assortment of comical frogs, which came together against a small gold clock face. The watch had been a wedding gift from my now ex-husband, and gave me a sense of value and importance, which was ironic since it was also ticking down reality as I knew it.
Instead of seeing that special watch as a gatekeeper of the minutes and hours I had been given, it was an ego-owned, excessive piece of jewelry, which I wore in a less than impressive life, rarely looking at it for the time. It was only when it disappeared one day, several years into my disastrous marriage that time stopped. My general assumption has always been that it was thrown out during a migraine induced blackout, along with whatever else I had in my hand, because it never again showed up. However, the time that passed between receiving and loosing it did finally come to light for me, and sadly I saw how much time had actually been thrown away.
Today most people look to their cell phone for the correct time, and unless a vain personal statement needs to be made…like my lost Victorian one, watches are only worn as an accessory, no longer a reminder of how much time is left until the day is done. I actually wonder if like cursive writing, children will someday no longer learn how to tell time…the quarter of an hour and the sixty seconds into a minute. After all, they will have a tablet or cell phone blinking black numerals to tell them when their time is up.
As I write this, I guess I miss Cinderella more than I thought, each fleeting moment until midnight approached, holding close moments that had been made and marked forever in time. However, if nothing else, I have learned no matter how valuable something is, if you see it for more than it is, you often don’t see what is moving around you until it is too late. Simple is usually is the best, along with knowing where you are, where you are going and what you have to get done, and the satisfaction of doing it before time runs out. Indeed, such knowledge although priceless, is also timeless.