Watch yourself!

Readers beware this is a long rambly post. Read at your own risk!!

I’ve been about two days without my wristwatch now.  I’d be more precise, but I don’t have a WATCH.

I’ve had that watch for nearly ten years, and I’ve worn it pretty much every single day. I wore that watch while doing field work in the ocean, chasing parrot fish hundreds of meters across a coral reef and back again. I wore it when I swam in lakes and oceans and swimming pools and ponds and rivers and creeks and waterfalls…I wore it in the desert and in the tropics and in blizzards down to 30 below zero F.

It was a good little watch, a Timex Ironman with water resistance up to 100m (thank goodness) and it survived some pretty hard use. I was familiar with all its little functions; I used its stopwatch multiple times each day for running, swimming, and biking.  It has two time settings, one of which I always kept on Queensland’s time and the other was on wherever I was living at the moment. It lit up so that you could read it in the dark, and had an alarm that you could set for ridiculously early in the morning…if you’re like me.

It’s been acting strangely lately (e.g. beeping for a solid thirty seconds and then resetting itself, growing dim and then bright) and the night light function hasn’t worked for a long time. I replaced the batteries recently, but it died Tuesday morning, much to my anguish.  I took the back off and realized that it was in pretty bad shape.  It’s packed with the dust of many days of field work, and the pins holding the bands are bending.  With a sigh, I resigned myself to finding a new watch.

It’s stressful for me to be without my watch. I’ve worn one almost every day since the fourth grade, except when I broke my shoulder in a bicycle accident a couple of years ago (NB I had a concussion when I wrote that post, haha), and replaced my fairly solid watch tan lines with lovely sling tan lines.The impact of the accident broke the pins inside the bands of the watch, so I tied it to my sling to keep it with me.

I never could handle Murri time* when I was living with an Aboriginal tribe or Island time when I lived on Maggie.  I used to panic when I was camping in the outback with the tribe, and get up in the middle of the night to go for a run, when the stars of the Milky Way were crystal clear and my breath was frosty. They wanted to train us off of our time dependence by forbidding watches, but putting my watch back on was the only thing about leaving that I was happy about.

Island time was pretty relaxed as well…I remember shops on one of the islands I lived on having posted hours between 1 and 4 pm on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays.  I would show up at exactly 1 pm on a Tuesday and wait around for forty five minutes before anyone showed up…if indeed they showed up at all.

Uncharitable readers might say I am “obsessed” with time.  I don’t deny it…but I don’t know what causes it either.  Perhaps it is our culture of time pressure and appointments.  It might be my own preoccupation with trying to cram as many activities as humanly possible into a given day.  But I also just find consistent, regular things comforting, like the beating of a heart or the ticking of a clock.  When I was young, after being beaten up or made fun of by bullies, I used to hide in the restroom and hold my wrist to my ear to listen to the reassuringly steady ticking of my Bugs Bunny watch (I loved Bugs Bunny with a passion then, and my parents often teased that if I ate many more carrots, I would turn orange).

I suppose this loss is a good exercise for me…I’m trying to get used to the uncomfortable feeling of my naked wrist.  At least until I get a new watch…

*The elder, Russ, always used to say, “Murri time is any time!”


13 thoughts on “Watch yourself!

  1. I love your description of the failing watch dimming and lighting up unexpectedly!. It looks like Bugs Bunny may be to blame! Hope you get a nice watch soon and eat some nice orange carrots meanwhile!

  2. I have had my Swiss Army watch now for over 20 years and it has been in monsoons, in oceans, in sub-zero weather, you name it. It has been in every country I have ever been too. I would be lost without it. Try one of them next time.

  3. Many years ago, I had a Timex Mickey Mouse watch with moving hands. I felt the same way when it stopped working. I’m sorry for your loss!

  4. All very interesting. Now I’m beginning to understand what makes you tick… Good luck finding a suitable replacement – though it won’t come with all that history attached, sadly. [personal aside: I stopped wearing a watch after a bad stroke, when time became less significant. I find there are all sorts of time prompts around. Also, to the annoyance of Mrs RH, I can usually tell the time to within 10 mins, often spot on. It’s like a new mini-superpower…]

  5. I love all the things you and your watch had been through. You use a lot of very vivid language to describe your life together. I understand how comforting something you have depended on for years can be. A replacement will be just that, a replacement, that will come to have its own history with you. That’s the thing about time . . .it just keeps moving on.

    I have never worn a watch. I have a very . . . elastic sense of time, a trait of people who favor right brained ways of thinking, always thinking I have more time than I do, and that what I want to do will fit into all that time I don’t have . A watch only makes me anxious, and except for a week or so after each Daylight Saving time change, I keep pretty good time in my head. I noticed my students don’t wear watches any more, they keep time with their phones. I have wondered if they could tell analog time on a regular clock or if they are totally dependent on digital time. It’s a whole new world !

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