Have you ever heard the line “If you don’t cry it isn’t love”? It is in a song by The Magnetic Fields. Tthat line is stuck in my head and I keep wondering if it is true. I am pretty sure that it is. But I think it is sort of like clocks. We all just trust our definition of time. But time is really just something we made up to go with the sun. So does that make it real? Just because someone said one day that we should divide our lives into minutes, seconds, time. I wonder about this sometimes.
Every time I hear the word ‘Clocks’, I think of the famous song by Coldplay. I had the opportunity to go to a Coldplay concert once, but couldn’t go because it was during the summer and I had to work. Whenever I want to do work or relax, I find Coldplay to be the most comforting music. I never seem to get tired of it and I love almost every song that I have heard by them. Sometimes I’m frustrated with the music that is being produced today and how I’m constantly going back to old music rather than new.
DiDa DiDa…the room is so quiet I can hear the clock ticking. I can’t see anything because it is dark; it is already three in the morning. Lights are off, people are in their deep sleeps, while I’m still wide awake. I do not know the reason but I’m sleepless again tonight. I lie still and try to hypnotize myself using the sound of the clock. DiDa, DiDa, this is the rhythm of clock. It is not too fast, not too slow, combined together to make itself a never ending song. This song is my lullaby. It is my only companion for all these sleepless nights.
Summertime leaves its marks through sunburns, blond streaks, excess freckles, and tan lines. Some lines are like battle scars marking who you were before the summer and what you turned into. Others date your age with a vindictive truth that only several months of cloudy days can obscure. Time stops in the sweltering heat but my watch keeps ticking. It reminds me to do too many things that my lazy limbs refuse. A white band slithers around my wrist like a snake with a freshly eaten mouse inside. I slip my watch off and hide it inside my wool socks.
There is a ticking clock in the kitchen. It’s been there, on the wall above the table, forever. It looks a bit like half a grandfather clock that’s been stuck to the wall: big box surrounding the actual clock part, wooden ornamentation on the bottom and top, shielded by a glass door. It has a face, and it has hands. It sits there, on the wall, at dinner every night. Company often notes how loud it ticks. My dad put a rubber band in the workings to muffle the booming chime. I can’t hear the ticking, even when I try.
When I think of clocks I think of bombs. I was sure every time I heard a ticking sound before I went to sleep that we were all about to be blown up. My moms bought me a digital clock.
There are other sinister clocks:
The hourglass- used by pirates so that captives could watch their lives slip away.
As swallowed by the alligator in Peter Pan, Alarm Clocks can act as a warning. They can also cause heart attacks in the morning if the person you sleep with sets them too goddamned loud to the oldies station.
Every morning it would start frenetically squeaking in my ear only to interrupt my dream at the most inopportune moment. Without making an effort to open my eyes, I would skillfully reach for it, hastily press the “Snooze” button, and then back it. “Brrr”, it would shout piercingly after five minutes. And again after another five…and again. Like a mother nagging at a child who stubbornly refuses to listen, it would be in this annoying repeat mode for an hour…until that morning when I reached for it way too vehemently. It fell, its parts all over the floor.
In kindergarten and third grade and eighth, I measured the window of morning spent getting ready for school by that clock on the mantle. It was octagonal, black, and the white face had roman numeral numbers and dainty black hands. I looked at the clock when I first made it downstairs, my outstretched arm gripping the banister as I swung around the curve of the bottom step and headed back to the kitchen, looked up from my toast or cereal to pace my progress, and checked again while zipping my coat and assembling my books. Always rushing, and never late.
Every evening my father would wind the antique steeple clock from his childhood home: a spare, chapel-like timepiece with a warm wind-up sound of whirring motors whenever the half-hour’s single and the hour’s multiple chimes approached. When we moved house to the Maine coast each summer, my mother would wrap it in soft towels and place it in the trunk of the car where kids and cat wouldn’t jostle it during the long drive. Still, it seems to me that for days its voice was husky, its tick prickly as it eased its way into a slower pace of life.
I’ll know in two hours. Two long hours and I don’t want them to pass, I don’t want to know, but I sort of guess I do. I brace myself. I expect the worst. Funny how time does that, how it can pass so quickly, so slowly, so relatively. And time is always unfair. Too fast when you want it slow, too slow when you want it fast. It’s always there when you don’t want it at all. Always. Sometimes, I wish I could skip entire chapters in my life, fastforward to the future. Rewind and enjoy or hit slow-motion.
We are late, always. Despite the fact that our clocks in our house are set anywhere from ten to thirty minutes ahead of real time, we are late, always. When my mother and I are not looking, my father sets the time on the oven another three minutes ahead. One morning, his tactic fooled me during high school. I awoke to my alarm—set twelve minutes ahead—and leisurely ate breakfast. When I returned my dishes to the sink, I noticed the time on the oven. Flustered, I left my house without textbooks. I arrived early for the first time to Calculus.
The clock sits, ticking loudly, letting everyone know that time is passing by. I look at the mini home – a small wooden box, dark brown – and wait for the bird to come out, to let us know that the hour has passed. A pendulum swings below. A skinny arm holds the large circular time keeper that sits below the tiny doors where the bird lives. I see the small clock-face approaching the hour, and I observe the elegantly inscribed designs – curvy, wavy, wing-like. I wait, become impatient, so I go downstairs and listen to the still mysterious bird making its time call.
About five times a week, (usually more) I look up at a clock; the one in the top right-hand corner of my computer screen, my cell phone, the one sitting above a door in a classroom. During these five or more times a week, the time is one of two number sequences: 9:11 or 10:27. It doesn’t matter if it is PM or AM nor do I consciously look at these times. This phenomenon has been happening for at least three years. I don’t have a real explanation. Perhaps I began looking often enough that the action became second nature.
Beauty and the Beast. That was our spring dance recital one year. The clock. What was his name? Doesn’t matter. But that was my role. I was a clock. I didn’t care that it was a lead, a solo, and just one of my many dances. I had to wear a cardboard clock cut out and jump around the stage. Not so glamorous. But once the makeup was applied, the dress rehearsal through, the hard work put in, the ballet slippers on, and the spotlight shining on me, it didn’t matter. I was out there and it all felt right.