Lately, it always seems to be about quarter to eleven in my house. AM or PM really doesn’t matter. You see, that’s the time the clock stopped one day. It might have been month’s ago for all I know, and even though the rest of the clocks in the house are correct, it’s still always about a quarter to eleven.
I got this clock many, many years ago at one of those arts festivals that pass through my home town on a fairly frequent basis. If you’ve been to one, you probably know what I’m talking about. Local artists compete with out of towners and set up their booths in order to hawk their wares. You see a lot of younger kids from the local campus vying with aging hippies trying to sell everything that borders on stuff of a practical nature to God knows what. Usually, there’s a place to get food and refreshments and quite often, a stage will be set up and a band playing somewhere off in the distance.
I think it was a year or two or three after my divorce. After laying around, drowning my sorrows and generally feeling sorry for myself, I finally mustered up some ambition and decided to make the rounds of one of the arts festivals that was making its way through town. For an added bonus, I had the company of a young borgette. She must’ve been either 4 or 5 and was this was to be one of our first forays into a public gathering. Any of you single dad’s of little girls out there know the logistics involved in embarking on such an adventure. For those of you who are lucky enough not to be faced with such challenges, let me tell you that finding suitable accommodations should your young one feel the urge can be quite a daunting experience. That’s not the gist of the story though…
So there we were on a fine summer day, wandering up and down and peeking in the various booth’s . I distinctly remember buying her some tie dyed shorts which she has long since outgrown, some “cool” toys that can probably be found at the bottom of her toy box, some roasted corn on the cob, getting her face painted and the accompanying smiles. I think we were there for about four hours or so. When I think back, that seems like such a small amount of time that occurred so many years ago that I’m surprised that it’s so vivid.
Anyway, as we were getting ready to go, I noticed a booth that we hadn’t seen before. It was kinda off the main strip and it didn’t seem like too many people were interested in what was being offered there. We decided to take a look. Turns out, it was a bunch of hand painted clocks. Oh well, nothing to see here.
”Daddy, can we get that one?”
I took a gander at what she pointing at and the first thing I noticed was purple. Now, I’m not exactly a “purple” kind of person and at first I dismissed the idea. Next came the inevitable “Pleeze!” and I decided to take a closer look.
The sides had these squiggly lines etched into them and various symbols of life were painted next to them. The face of the clock was that of a full moon, the hands were little arrows and the numbers were represented by the various phases of the moon. I was intrigued.
Fresh on the heels of divorce, the furnishings in my home could, at the time, best be described as sparse. What little I had lacked imagination and seemed more like a conglomeration of cast-offs from friends or an afterthought brought on by necessity. It would be nice to have something new. Even though said clock would reside in her room and out of sight from most visitors, the price was worth it and the deal was done.
We got the darn thing home and somehow the splash of color didn’t fit in with white walls that were there. So we painted. We painted oranges, yellows, blues and reds. We built a canopy of sorts over her bed. We purchased comforters that depicted puffy clouds and blue skies. We put stars on the ceiling and pictures on the walls. Essentially, we started a home.
The clock hung on her wall for years doing what it was supposed to do, measuring time. After awhile, the ticking seemed to get louder and was keeping her awake so we decided to move it downstairs. I figured the thing was on its last legs and couldn’t hold out much longer. I was wrong. That thing ticked away and got louder and louder as it gazed down upon me from my living room wall. In a way I found the ticking of clock somewhat comforting in a quiet house.
There’s a couple of other things that I’ve managed to figure out over the years. Maybe it was that damn clock and the work that we went through in fixing up rooms and making a home that was enough to shake me out of my doldrums. Maybe not. I’ll never know for sure but something had to be the impetus for a turnaround and I’d like to believe that the memories of that day, at an arts fair many years ago, and the pleading eyes of child brought on by such a simple image of that of a stopped clock had something to do with it.
It still sits on my wall, frozen at about quarter to eleven. I don’t have the heart to take it down or throw it out. Maybe that’s because of the memories I’ve described or maybe that’s because I’ve found a degree of comfort and I want time to stand still for just one more day.