I have this clock in my kitchen that isn’t working at the moment. The minute hand keeps getting jarred and is stuck trembling at the same point in time. It’s not the first time it’s happened. In the past I’ve taken the back off, stroked the mechanism gently, removed and reinserted the battery, reset the time to the present and let it tick tick tick on its way again. Marking time.
I’ve had the clock since I was 21 and I know it won’t last forever but I can’t bear the thought of it no longer working. It was a gift given to me at an amazing point in my life. I was living on my own in a teeny studio in Paris and I didn’t know how good things were. Independent, in love, surrounded by friends, just enough money to comfortably keep me in wine and cheese.
A time in my life that, looking back, I wish I had been able to pause and live in for longer. A very close friend gave me the clock as a present for my 21st birthday. She had called me out of the blue and told me she was coming to stay the next day. She crossed continents and stayed with me for 6 weeks. I have only two memories of her from those six weeks we spent living together. My memory keeps the rest from me and won’t give them back. I try to remember those weeks but it’s like walking down a dark corridor, sometimes I hear snatches of sound, like voices and laughter, but I can’t see anything.
I didn’t know when I said goodbye that it would be the last time I would see her. Just a few months later she was gone, leaving us all behind and wondering why she couldn’t have decided to stay and live a little longer. Leaving us to live our lives, go on and get married, have children and grow up.
So the clock is more than a clock. It’s a reminder that life is unpredictable and at times unfair. Time marches on and some people will leave you along the way and get stuck, frozen, at that point in time. They will remain 22 in your head forever and as the years drift on it won’t really get any easier to think about, you will still struggle to make sense of it all.
The clock is plastic and a bit faded and the casing splinters easily now, reminding me that life is fragile and sometimes if there’s too much pressure cracks appear. The clock is bright blue reminding me that life is bright and vibrant and things aren’t always black and white.
So I’ll gently remove the backing and stroke the mechanism and whisper a gentle plea for it’s little hand to march on. I need it to stay in my life. It’s a reminder and a connection to the past and I’d rather it didn’t get stuck forever at the same point, while all around time marches on.