I’ve been tidying up quite a bit lately. My nightstand no longer harbors chaos within its drawers and compartments. I kept Young J’s fallen-out teeth, for some reason – perhaps on the off chance someone might steal them from the garbage and find a way to clone him, and that would not be OK with me. I kept hospital bracelets from the boys’ births, and their ultrasound portraits. And, though I have not used it in over nine years, I kept this watch.
When I was pregnant with Young J, I wore the watch until it, like my wedding ring, stopped fitting. I was up a few pounds. Okay, to be honest, if I’d been a boxer, I would have been classified as a heavyweight by the end of my pregnancy. And it freaks me out that right now, I don’t weigh all that much less than I did at about seven months pregnant. But it isn’t freaking me out enough to go back on a diet, just yet. That will need to wait until we’re back from vacation next week.
So, this watch. I bought it on my first trip to Paris in 1997. When I was still living in Ann Arbor, Michigan, but was yearning to change it up for the big city. I wrote more about Paris last November, after the terror attack. I didn’t mention the watch then. It didn’t seem important. Today it seems to be.
I visited the Galeries Lafayette on my first trip to Paris, primarily because I’d learned about it in my junior high French textbooks, and that first trip to Paris involved lots of ticking of boxes of places I needed to see merely because I’d heard of them in textbooks. (I did not visit the Moulin Rouge.) I didn’t really need anything, but I did buy my nephew N, who was a toddler at the time, a toy toaster, which came with foam bread.
Outside the massive store, there was an entire parallel universe of commerce set up in the street. I stopped by a watch vendor. I hadn’t ever had a grownup watch. I went from a Snoopy watch to a digital watch to a couple of Swatches. I picked out this watch, which looked classy enough, to usher me into a new phase, adult watch ownership. I even needed to wind it.
I wore it. You wear a watch and you don’t think about it. You don’t think about it, until it is the battery dies, and it’s about six years since you bought it, and you realize it had run all that time on the same battery. Not bad at all, for a street watch. It’s a genuine “Audrey.” The word Switzerland appears nowhere on this watch. But it’s a workhorse.
Of course, sitting in a drawer for nine years isn’t good for a watch. This morning, I popped it in my pocket and took it over to the shoe repair/jack-of-all-trades guy on the corner. He said he could replace the battery for seven dollars. I realized I didn’t have cash and he said I could return with it later. (I ran to the ATM, because although that kind of business person exists less and less, I didn’t trust myself to remember to pay him later.)
When I came back, he replaced the battery, and then started tapping the watch. Rapping it. Then kind of bashing it against the shelf. At first he proclaimed it dead. But he kept rapping and tapping it and fiddling with it, as though he didn’t have an entire store worth of shoes and watches and other things to fix. I told him I’d bought the watch in Paris. “Oh, you went there on your honeymoon?” he asked. “No,” I said, “I was there by myself.”
After a few more minutes, he said he’d fixed it. I slid it over my wrist, worried it wouldn’t fit. It did. He said to come back if it stopped working. I said I would. (As of now, it’s still working.)
Why did it take me nine years to replace the battery on my watch? I was busy, with the kids mostly. I got a cell phone. I got a smartphone that shows me the time whenever I want. But guess what? Lately I’ve noticed that I pull my phone out to check the time, and I bypass the clock on the lock screen, because I see I’ve gotten a new email or text, and then Facebook draws me in. And then I shut the phone off again without remembering to check what time it is.
I’ve replaced the battery on my trusty old watch. I hope it keeps ticking (but not too loudly). I hope it makes me more efficient. I hope it doesn’t start to seem like a burden, because as of right now, ten days away from my next scans, I don’t have any sense of my time, in the general sense, being limited. As far as i know, all is well. As far as I know, the works are in good shape. Time, at this moment, is no more precious to me than to someone who is not ill. But I’m still not at liberty to waste it.
[Blogging may be light this weekend as I parent en solo while J enjoys a much-deserved break. (Unless I become so exasperated I decide to live-blog the whole mess.) Happy Valentine’s Day, Happy Presidents Day, Happy February Vacation. Stay warm, if that is hemispherically appropriate. If not, stay cool.]