For years I did not wear a watch.
There’s a feeling of freedom in being watchless. It’s like your time is your own to arrange as you please.
And if, for some strange reason, I had to know precisely the hour and minute, my computer had a clock, my car had a clock, there was a clock in the kitchen and a clock in my office, all fully capable of keeping me "up to the minute."
Sweetheart Al gave me a beautiful watch with a gold band and a face surrounded by diamonds. I wore it almost every day for a year, but constantly worried that I’d somehow break it. So it now resides in our safe deposit box. He gave me a not so extravagant watch to take its place. This one with a mother-of-pearl face. I’ve been bewitched by mother-of-pearl since I was a child and saw its shimmering, glimmering beauty for the first time. Some days I forget to put it on. But I wear it most of the time.
Sweetheart’s watch, on the other hand, is waterproof, tells the time to the second, gives the day of the month and other important information, and is always on his wrist.
Our differing approaches to time amuse me. I’ll feel hungry and ask him, "Are you getting hungry for lunch?" And instead of consulting his stomach, he’ll look at his watch.
I eat when I’m hungry. Al eats according to his watch. If it’s 10 a.m., it’s time for a mid-morning nosh. If it’s noon, it’s time for lunch, and so on.
During winter storms our power often goes out. When it returns, Al goes from clock to clock, resetting the time. There’s the kitchen range clock, the coffee maker clock, the microwave clock, the clock by our bed …it’s a huge job.
I’d probably let them be until the winter ends. We’ve got a couple of battery run clocks that keep fine time and never stop when the electricity fails.
But he likes to have all the clocks accurate. The problem (especially in the winter) is that no sooner will he have everything back on perfect time, and the power will go out again. That’s winter in the country – storms blowing down trees and power lines. One day, the power went out four times. He was about to go mad.
Recently, we spent a few days at a friend’s Bay Area house. She wanted us to look after the place while she was out of state, and we were happy to. It was a real treat to be within minutes of bookstores and art galleries and coffee shops.
But the second day there, I found Sweetheart changing the bedside clock.
When I asked why, he said, "I’m setting it to the right time. I’ve already done the kitchen clock."
I was surprised by his serious focus.
"Honey, don’t change her clocks," I said.
"But they’re all five minutes off," He looked at me like a teacher who is slightly irritated but taking care of the problem.
"If they’re all five minutes off, she’s probably set them that way for a reason."
He looked at me as if I must be insane.
I began to laugh. "Please, Sweetheart. Sometimes people set their clocks ahead a little to keep themselves on time."
He looked at me and then the clock. By now I was laughing, and trying not to because it was clearly painful for him to leave a clock proclaiming the wrong time.
He sighed and reluctantly returned her clocks to their five-minutes off time.
Although we approach clocks and watches differently, we continue to share the best of times together.
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