Sunday, September 28, 2008

Telling Time

I have a clock hanging on the wall in my living room. It's a clock that has been in my home since I was a little kid. The only thing I know about its origin is that Dad gave it to Mom at some point early in their marriage. Mom, if you're reading this, you might be able to clarify. Anniversary gift? Birthday? I really don't know.

All I know for sure is that it's a very loud clock. It ticks and tocks, as many clocks do. But it's so much louder than you would expect a wall clock to be. And I haven't even mentioned the chime. At the top of the hour, it rings out the number of the hour. And it chimes once on the half hour. And the chime is louder than the ticking.

As a kid I remember watching Dad wind the clock every few weeks when it would slow and inevitably wind down. And I remember feeling so privileged when I was old enough to finally be able to wind it myself. Of course I had to stand on a chair to reach. Toward the end of the winding, my hand would be cramping up because the gears were getting so tight. Then I'd tip the pendulum and it would start ticking once again.

During college, I went without that sound. Of course I went without. It was hanging in the living room back at home. When I returned to live with Dad in 2004, that sound welcomed me back. But at this point in my life, it wasn't actually the sound that bothered me. It was the absence of that sound that got under my skin. Whenever someone new would enter our house, they would comment on just how loud the ticking was. But to me, it was background noise that I never paid attention to. The only time I noticed it was when it was gone, when the clock had wound down.

After Dad passed away, I got the clock. I know, technically it belonged to Mom, but she left it behind when she moved out. And possession is nine-tenths, whatever that means. So when I moved to North Carolina, the clock came with me. And I diligently wound the clock every few weeks, making sure it would continue its soothing ticking.

But today, the clock isn't ticking. It hasn't been ticking for several months. See, not long after I moved in here, I noticed that the clock was running slow. Not because the gears weren't tightly wound, I kept up my part. It would just seem to lose 15 minutes every day. Obviously there is something wrong with this clock that I am unable to fix. So rather than continuing to wind the clock, and have the time be wrong anyway, I chose to let it run down.

I know that some day I should take the clock to a repair shop, but it's just not something I've gotten around to yet. But I really need to get it done. I really miss that noise in the background. It's loud and abrasive, but somehow it really helps me sleep at night.

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