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The Clock in My Room



The clock in my room, it ticks it talks, seemingly so impersonal and over time the most intimate of companions. It speaks to me of the past, an accumulated past comprised of ticks, bongs and rings, a voice from another time and yet it is in the very moment announcing the minutes, hours and half hours of my passing day. Easily one of my oldest friends I have known since I can remember. We first became acquainted on visits to my grandparents. Sleeping in my father’s childhood bedroom on a bed so high I needed a stool to get up and on. Once in bed I became privy to a whole world of objects located within the vision of adults, like the top of his tall dresser filled with forbidden objects including a photograph of a frail old woman, his grandmother who I had not known, wearing a large orchid that in my imagination resembled the spooky hand of a skeleton. There was a green plastic box the top of which was a model of the San Francisco-Oakland bay bridge, a souvenir of the world fair held in San Francisco, there was a little koa wood bowl with chipped rim, likely from a time my grandfather had cleaned his pipe. A little solid nickel pig at a trough, an advertisement from the Mechanics Bank of Richmond California where his father was an officer. But of all the objects that spoke to me by far the most demanding was the old Seth Thomas eight-day alarm clock. It was this clock who became my oldest friend, who has lived with me through three marriages much of the time in silence because of the offense of his sentinel like stance insisting on the time of day announcing the hour with unfailing determination. I was living in New York City, recently married. We were expecting our first child, Sarah when it arrived in the mail unexpected, a treasure trove of memories. As much as I embraced my old friend, his silence seemed a reasonable compromise for peace in our marriage. Anxious to move on in my second marriage, my old friend assumed a more prominent position, again the ticks of his loud behavior doomed his welcome. He fell silent as the time passed. My full appreciation began to develop when I moved back to Brooklyn and my old friend now free of the criticisms was aloud to fully express his presence. My recent wife Maria has accepted him quirks and all. With his full participation our love has blossomed and I have grown more sensitive as a person. I remember the first time he needed cleaning, an old communist, retired, now doing clocks in the basement of a Soho art gallery. I was impressed by his apparent knowledge surrounded as he was by all the clocks he had worked on. I brought my clock in, it seemed a perfect match. Later when my clock came home, I found it had a different sound; it seemed smoother somehow, not as loud. I also noticed a few other things different, some of the screws in the back had been replaced and two were missing, more important, the alarm no longer worked. I returned my clock and he added new screws, over size, not matching tho he could do nothing about the alarm, the part was broken and not to be found. The clock sat on the shelf in silence for some time then like a breath of fresh air everything changed, we were reunited in Brooklyn and I could wind it to my hearts content and it responded with the most glorious and joyous of long familiar sounds. These squeals coincided with Maria entering my life and the three of us moved to Colorado, Maria has accepted him quirks and all. With his full participation our love has blossomed and I have grown more sensitive as a person and time for another cleansing. I recall it was in pueblo at the incorporation of the Museum of Friends, I’d stepped out of the office into the hallway when I met an elderly clock person in an unlikely location on the second floor of a building of a building full of accountants and lawyers. He had a cubbyhole that passed for his office repairing old clocks. We struck up a conversation and in short order I gave him my most precious friend. I think the cleansing went to well because my friend came home a different clock, he sounded much louder with none of the old familiar ticks in fact he now sounded intense like he might come apart at any moment. My old friend continued to mark time in his precarious condition that is until I met Sonny, a confident young and knowledgeable clock man working in the back of his mother’s jewelry shop. After exchanging a few words I mentioned the broken alarm, he said he thought he could repair it and so I brought in. he kept the clock for the better part of the year. I called to see if it had been fixed, he offered to purchase it and I knew he valued it. Finally he found the used part and called me it was ready. Now I’m not one who necessarily believes in love at first sight but there it was my friend had become smoother more succinct he had been transformed into a mellow gracefully aged and more important made whole again with insistent ringing of his ear shattering alarm. Once again I am at home with my peculiar old friend speaking the same language, tick tock ring bong. While lying in bed this morning I noticed two more things about my friend, the space between the tick tocks seemed longer than usual like he might stop at any moment and when he announced the top of hour I noticed the gongs were stretched out and much slower, it was then I heard something I had not heard before, the gong was more rich and full. When struck the sound was a low and deep vibration that seemed to gather momentum picking up speed B O N G –reborn as it dissipated beyond the limit of my hearing range only to start again on the next gong. I also noticed each initial sound of the gong was a little different because when struck the spring was in a different position of vibration as it dissipated from the previous gong. I had tuned into his beat at the extreme end of the eight-day wind cycle, the spring was near sprung, with it the tension after eight days of unwinding. When rewound, a breath of fresh air, a new life full of tension, sharpness and clarity like a professional drill sergeant on the parade field.

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