I just did something strange yesterday. I put a watch back on my wrist.
It was a very odd feeling, after a year and a half without it.
For almost two years, I neither knew nor cared what time it was. All that mattered was whether it was light or dark out. In the midst of the stultifying confinement of the pandemic, it felt like a little bit of freedom.
I didn’t even know where my watch had gotten to—until last week.
I have always had a love-hate relationship with the concept of time. Mostly hate.
Maybe it stemmed from being the child of two parents who were insanely fixated on being, not just on time for everything, but early. I remember my parents arguing whether half an hour before a dinner party was too early to show up.
“What’s the harm in being early?” my father wanted to know
“No harm if you don’t mind that we’ll never be invited back again,” my mom replied. “People like to at least be dressed, with their hair dry, before the door bell rings.”
So, of course, I — the child of two early birds — was born a night owl. When I finally met the man who would become my husband, we were the only person in the other one’s life who didn’t nag them.
Our best man says he won a bet on how late my groom and I would be to our own wedding (45 minutes). So what? You can’t start a wedding without the bride and groom.
When we bought a house, my husband’s friends said they couldn’t get us a housewarming gift because they couldn’t find a lawnmower with headlights. No problem; we got a lawn service instead. (This is Lawn Guy Land, after all.)
Then began the usual grind of catching trains and getting to work. Through it all the watch on my wrist was a faithful companion.
That all changed when the first baby arrived. His brand-new skin was so tender that, with one sudden swerve in my arms, he had scratched himself on my watchband. Of course, his baby skin also healed without a trace, but the verdict was clear: The watch had to go.
I didn’t miss it.
Sure, getting out of the house took most of the day, but if the sun was setting by then, so much the worse for the sun. Besides: except for well-baby check-ups, time didn’t matter. We were on Eastern Baby Time.
And when the dust eventually settled into some kind of routine, it turned out — unbelievably — that our baby was a night owl, too.
Of course, we registered for the afternoon session of nursery school. Which meant that the rubber didn’t really hit the road until—kindergarten.
Every morning there was going to be a school bus that all of his friends would be on. We had to make that bus at a little after 8 in the morning.
To top it all off, that was the year the school district decided to shift all its school opening times a quarter of an hour earlier.
“How dare they? It’s an outrage!” commiserated my fellow moms. “How are you ever going to manage, Judy?”
But I wasn’t worried. I figured it would be like the trips I used to take to Europe and back. Once you’ve flown four or five time zones away, what’s another 15 minutes?
The only thing was I had to put my watch back on my wrist.
Which is where it stayed for the next 20 years—until the pandemic hit and time itself came to a stop.
Now, the watch is back — back from getting a new battery and back on my wrist. It catches in my longer, pandemic-grown hair and gets wet when I wash the dishes. It’s very old school — it’s completely analog and does nothing but point out the time with both hands.
But so far it’s still ticking, and so am I.