The unlikely ones: Time

I’ve never liked watches: Those illusory attempts at time control. We can see the sands of time slip through our fingers for a while but we can never hold time in our hands. We just have to let go of it; go on with our lives while our hourglasses keep running out of sand.

Generally we don’t feel time, it goes by unattended. But sometimes we get younger or age all of a sudden. You’re carefreely wandering down the street when you see a girl walking alongside. Maybe you were tipsy from a couple of beers with friends, maybe you were just in a brave humor that day, so you say hi and she smiles. You both make extraneous conversation till you gather the courage to ask for her phone number, thus winding your clock backwards. Months or maybe even a couple of years later, the person you felt you were going to spend the rest of your life with decides that’s not the case, thus winding your clock forward. In the end time always adds up, but who’s keeping count? The only thing I know for sure is that when death comes, there won’t be any surplus or deficit of time. How do I know?

The last moment time stopped for me was when I was with Susana. Now, let me be clear: Time never stops. What really happens generally is that the time gained and the time lost are canceled out, so we don’t feel the passing of time. Now, sometimes we welcome these moments of eternity in which there is no more time to lose or gain: We’re ready for death to come and take us back to the bosom of the Universe. But most of the time, we aren’t ready for it; we don’t feel eternity but stagnation. I broke up with her. It wasn’t a single decision but numerous moments of carelessness. The idea in my minds was that our relationship was forever, and I wanted to pace myself, so I wouldn’t get tired half way through. But still, I got bored with her and told her I needed a break. Again, this was just another way of cheating time, since I kept the illusion that we could go back together whenever I wished. But a few weeks later she stopped answering my messages and I started falling out of pace with time. No matter what I did, I could never gain time anymore, since I had already lost my chance for happiness. All my time was spent looking for someone else; trying to replace happiness. I was on a deficit. I could also forget about happiness and move on, resigning myself to unhappiness for as long as new happiness spontaneously arrived, but I couldn’t be spontaneous anymore. I knew I was looking for new happiness and that time kept running. I kept running out of time.

Other people in similar situations resort to entertainment to pass time: Practicing or watching sports, traveling, or simply being surrounded by people to smother their inner thoughts. But mine couldn’t be smothered. I’ve had some moments of respite when I connected emotionally with someone. Also during some moments of meditation, while contemplating something. For instance when I look at the evolution of morality and technology. Not long time ago it used to be socially accepted to beat your children and now it’s frown upon. Not long time ago, my mother would wash all my clothes by hand and now she sends me an instant message from the other corner of the world whenever she wants. This constant progress is objectively very positive, but subjectively it also goes to show that life always goes on and the clock keeps ticking, whether you want it or not.

Now I’d like to have a philosophical conclusion to this story, a moral ending from which we all can profit. I’d like this to be Chinese tale, but it isn’t. In my case, closure came by mere chance. Maybe the whole moral of the story is that no matter what we do, life has its own plans for us. Eventually I met another girl with whom time stopped too. I still had a deficit of time: all the months I spent looking for new happiness, but I decided not to try to collect on this debt life had towards me. I simply resigned myself to having lost all that time, plus the time I had invested on Susana. Now generally we all had situations in which nothing came out of something in which we invested lots of time and emotions, and we simply move on. We learn something from it and this makes up for the time lost. But, as I said before, I’ve never liked watches, which means that I’ve never carried one. I’ve even disconnected the watch app from my phone. Yes, sometimes I have appointments at certain hours, but generally time is not an issue for me. I’m also very bad at keeping track of time in general, I mean dates, months and years. I know what’s today’s date and how old I am, but to me it’s just a cipher with no emotional meaning attached to it. I think this has something to do with the strangeness of what happened to me.

Although I decided to give up on the time I had lost till I found Silvia, the deficit kept accruing. Now I don’t mean that I wasn’t happy with Silvia, on the contrary, I was and I still am very happy with her. But I felt that I kept running out of time and I couldn’t find the reason. It felt like the debt time had towards me had a great interest rate and it was all piling up exponentially. Don’t ask me why, I couldn’t tell you if my life depended on it, but I felt time just slipping through my fingers. It was a scary sensation. I would wake up feeling that a week had passed by before I checked the date on the calendar just to see that only a day had passed by. The same with hours. I would feel that the day was almost over before I checked and only an hours had passed. This sensation lasted almost for a year. I learned to live with it. I knew it was useless going to a psychologist. They’d think I was having some emotional breakdown or something, while in reality I was feeling great.

It all happened by chance. I knew where Susana lived, but it had never occurred to me to bother her, since she’d stopped answering my messages. I was aware that the only thing worse tan not doing something is doing it offhandedly, but it was her birthday and for some reason I thought it was a good occasion to make peace. This was a selfish act, since my goal was to close that chapter with her and recover all the time lost by becoming good friends. In the afternoon I went to her house. I rang the bell and she let me in without any ado. It was all so natural, as if I had rung the bell two and a half years ago, before I broke up wit her. There was no element of surprise in the scene. She opened the door and she looked completely changed. It was as if she’d aged ten years, but not physically. She was more radiant than ever. I understood it all before I saw the baby chair in the corner of the room. She looked like a mother now. I didn’t need to ask when I saw the baby. She was around twenty months old. I immediately recovered all the time that had flown during that period. I felt ten years younger all of a sudden. I felt ten years indebted to this woman who had been raising my child alone during all this time. I didn’t ask why she’d made that decision. I just said: “You know, whatever you need from now on, you can count on me.” She said: “Yes, I will take that into account from now on.” And from that day on time keeps going by very slowly when I am not with that kid but it winds back every time I see her. I can see time in her eyes, hair and smile. The hourglass is constantly flipped.


I'm a writer born in Argentina, but currently living in Poland. I work as an English and French teacher, translator and copywriter.

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