Have you got the Time?


I forgot my phone at work.  I also forgot my watch, from when I took it off for a gym class.  I take my watch off for classes because A, I don’t want it to get sweaty and gross, and B, there’s a clock in the classroom, and I can read its reflection in the mirror while flailing along in some semblance of what the instructor is doing.

I check the time a lot.  Sometimes, I check the time immediately after having just checked the time, to confirm that the time I thought I read was, in fact, the time that it actually is.  I only just switched from a waterproof sports-proof indestructible watch (one that allowed me to leave it on through showers, swimming, hiking, and whatever else) to one that actually looks good.  It ticks.  It ticks so softly that I only ever notice it when I am lying in bed at night, my left arm tucked just so, up near my ear.  It’s a strangely soothing sound.

My dad got it years ago.  One of his coworkers used to go to New York on a regular basis, and this guy got it into his head that my dad wanted a knock-off watch.  My dad never wears a watch.  Instead, he asks someone who has a watch something like this: “It’s about 10 to 8, right?”

The person who has a watch glances at their watch, looks suspiciously at my dad, and replies, “Yes.”

Because he’s always right.  And he never wears a watch.

He has no idea where his coworker got the idea that he was desirous of a watch.  He just thanked him politely and stuck the Swiss Fake in a drawer until a few months ago when I was bemoaning the fact that I wanted an analog watch, but hadn’t found one I liked enough to buy yet.  Change the battery, set the time and date, and bam.  I sleep to the soothing tick-tick-tick of a watch whose face glows in the dark, just in case I wake up enough to want to know what time it is, but not enough to put my glasses on and read the time on the alarm-clock-radio I’ve had since I was 10.

What’s this all about?  Well, it sets the scene for last night, when I realized, after pulling Gwynn out of the car and while heading towards Sadie’s house, that I didn’t have the time.  I looked around, as though expecting to suddenly find myself in the kind of small town with a clock tower that you can see from practically anywhere in town.  The kind of clock tower that bongs on the hour and half-hour, so that even though I might not know the time, I would know roughly where, in time, I was.

I went on a walk anyways.  We walked to the middle entrance of the creek valley, and headed north, to the furthest entrance.  The dogs raced around the field like it was the most exciting place.  I threw the ball a few times for them and lost myself in the complete happiness of two dogs running.  We headed back to the middle entrance, and I pulled back my coat to look at my wrist.  Oh.  Right.

Well, the sky isn’t all that dark yet, and it is still winter, so that probably means… something.  Too bad I have about as much of an internal clock as I do an internal compass.

It was light enough that I could go down to the south entrance through the woods without finding myself in absolute darkness.  It was a beautiful evening – the creek valley is protected from the wind, no one was about, and the dogs were staying out of the stinky creek, but still having a great time sniffling and snuffling through the underbrush.

By the time I reached the south entrance, the moon was high and bright in the sky, a narrow crescent not quite at the first quarter, so sharply defined that you could see the shadows and texture of the moonscape.  I seriously considered heading back through the park to the middle entrance, just to keep the walk going a bit longer.  The waspish hum of three cyclists as they dart past me, ninja-like in the darkness dissuaded me.  The path ended near the highway, so chances were good that I would see (or not see) them again on their way back down.  Someone needs to give them the memo about having a light and having a bell, and how it’s the law, but I’d rather not have it emphasized by a bike-dog collision.

It was getting a bit colder, anyways, though, so I headed home.

The whole walk took a bit longer than two hours.  If I’d known the time, chances are I’d have gone back up the way I came in.

There might just be something to the whole ‘living in the moment’ thing.

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16 Comments

  1. Lance

     /  February 28, 2012

    Beautiful, well written, calming post. This hit me perfectly, today. Thank you.

  2. You are brave going through the woods at night. Even with two dogs I’m not sure I’d chance it.

    It’s funny how many times I look at my watch throughout the day and on those random days where I walk out of the house without it, how much I truly miss it.

    Nicely written post.

    • It wasn’t dark when I left, and it was not-quite-dusk when I decided to stretch out the walk. Darkness just falls depressingly quickly in the winter, like one of those cartoon day-to-night curtains. When it’s very dark out, i tend to avoid it, if only because ‘seeing the trail’ is one of my requirements for walking on it 😛
      My watch is definitely an important part of my wardrobe/mental health, lol. sometimes it’s nice not paying attention to it, though.

  3. A lovely post. I love getting lost in the moment with my dogs on a long walk.

  4. I’m with Jodi on walking in the woods at night. I was half expecting you to tell how you threw down white pebbles to gleam in the moonlight so you could find your way back ala Hansel & Gretel.

    I never wear a watch – don’t like anything on my wrist.

    • Now there’s a nice bit of imagery, white pebbles gleaming in the moonlight 🙂 but no, it wasn’t too dark out, so following the asphalt trail was easy enough to do, and I could still distinguish between the dark-tree-shadows and moving shadows.
      When I don’t have my watch on, I ‘adjust the strap’ anyways. It’s a wrist-shake movement that makes no sense if it isn’t slipping the watch into a looser position on my wrist. That and pulling my sleeve back whenever I want to know the time. Anything more than a watch, though, that I have trouble keeping on. most bracelets end up sitting beside my keyboard throughout the day if I do actually wear them to work.

  5. Indeed. I haven’t worn a watch in years. Probably because I almost always have my phone on me and that is a perfect substitute. But like you I do find the days in which I leave it at home are much calmer. When I don’t know what time it is, I find out that I don’t really care.

    • It’s true – when you aren’t measuring time, the duration becomes far less important than the action itself. I’ve only recently gotten into the habit of almost always (except when I forget it at my office!) bringing my phone everywhere, so I never think to check it for the time. Weather, googling something someone said that I don’t think is true, searching for where it is that I thought I was headed, yes. time, nope.

  6. *sigh* I wish, in a way, I could have been on that walk with you….
    But at the same time, NOT, because I have a watch and am pretty good at having my phone on me even on dog walks…
    But still, walks with you are fun.
    Being able to relax and not care about the time sounds nice though…
    And it is strange when Dad asks that…
    Especially when he’s in a room that has no clock, like not in the kitchen. Or when we’re outside.
    Dad’s like Crocodile Dundee, looks at the sun and is like “Oh, it’s about quarter after 4, right?”
    Miss being home already. Love you 😛

    • Miss you too! Try not to ignore the time too much – attending classes and getting homework done does kind of require time-keeping. I guess it does have its important aspects 😛
      He really is like Crocodile Dundee… we should get him to talk wiht an accent from now on. And get him to grab a handful of dried grass or dust, slowly let it strain through his fingers, and then say, “it’s 17 minutes past 3pm” or whatever time it actually is.

  7. Sounds like a nice walk. I am not keen on walking in dark woods so I probably would have missed my watch. You sleep wearing your watch? That is something I have never mastered. 🙂

    • If i don’t sleep with it, I don’t leave for work with it, and then i obsessively carry my phone (or check my computer time) all day 😛 If i remembered it, that is! I am not high-functioning early in the morning 😛
      I think i’ve given you all a much more impressive impression of my ‘woods’ than it actually is. it’s a narrow creek valley that only feels isolated because all the houses are on the ridge above it, with a paved path through it, a baseball diamond, soccer field, playground and assorted benches along the route. Not quite escaping civilization, though I’m still careful to avoid being there when it’s really late or really dark. It’s about as close to forest that one can get in my area without having to drive quite a ways.

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