I am not a shopper. I am hard pressed to recall a time in my adulthood when I desired an item, sought it out and purchased it. My favorite things typically find me. Two years ago I happened upon a wrist watch while wandering through an antique shop in my home town. I wasn’t looking for a watch, and in fact, do not value the need to know what time it is at any point in the day. I enjoy flying by the seat of my pants. I like to watch the position of the sun in order to guess what time it is; and, I am amazed at my ability to guess correctly within a few minutes. Sometimes though, remarkable things present themselves to us and fill a void we never knew we had.
Venturing into empty shops is uncomfortable for me, knowing one foot in the door that there is nothing within that I wish to buy. Inevitably, the hollow eyes of the employee seem to beg to differ and there is an overwhelming guilt that sets in. On this one surprising occasion, however, I was drawn to a watch that seemed out of place in the shop. I picked it up, put it on and was surprised to discover how well it fit me. I vacillate between the extremes of dressing up for work and dressing so down at home that I cannot leave the house in my favorite ripped jeans without risking the penalty of indecent exposure. But the watch went with everything. It was large and strong and felt good wrapped around my wrist. It was unpretentious yet added style to my wardrobe without mocking my tendency toward that which is comfortable.
I have been surprised how much I rely on it for accuracy and to make my life run smoothly. On many occasions, I have left it home and have even lost it for extended periods of time, though mercifully it always seems to show up. It is as though it knows that sometimes I need to go back to the days of less structure, but that ultimately I am better when it is with me. I maintain a fairly structured jewelry collection- necklaces hanging from funky wall mounted racks, earrings hanging together in pairs from a brass tree I designed years ago- but I never really put the watch anywhere in particular. No matter where I leave it though, it seems to resurface at just the right time and as though we were never apart. Dependably, it remains sturdy, precise and cherished.
On the most recent occasion of its misplacing, I was certain it was lost for good. Usually when it is gone, I have that clear feeling in my stomach that it is not lost at all, it is just temporarily teaching me a lesson about how to better look after it. This time however, I began to question whether having a watch made me too structured and I justified its absence as a step back in the right direction - anything to make the sting of reality easier. Then, in early October, I missed a significant appointment that I had been anticipating for months. It dawned on me in that moment that had I had my watch, I would never have missed that date. A week or so after the fated engagement I set out to look for the watch once again, and once and for all. In part, I felt deficient that I had been so unbalanced without it, but I was unwilling to be without it again. I made peace with the fact that having it on my arm makes me comfortable; I feel more together, and more in sync. Finding it, as always, was easy. It was right where I had left it. It’s been two weeks now, give or take, and I haven’t taken it off once. Often times, possessions we are sure we must have the first time we see them become ordinary and unrewarding as time wears on. I’m not ashamed to say that I adore it as much today as I did that day I found it in that unassuming hometown shop.