When I lived in Cheshire and used to go running out of town into the local countryside, I was always on my own. There were no pedestrians, only a bit of traffic, especially when I got past Prestbury and onto some of the country roads. I didn’t listen to music because I was watching for traffic on the narrow roads. I never had problems with near-misses with cars. Who I would see on these roads were cyclists, and because it was out amidst the fields and cottages on these roads we would say hi to each other when we were out training. I used to find myself running with a couple of watch-like contraptions on my wrist. I had my watch for timing myself, and then I had another one that was for GPS. I could have just used the one, but it was a nerdy runner thing for me. I was just used to the purple watch I had for knowing how long my runs took me.
One day, when I was out on my run, a sunny day, approaching Prestbury, a couple of cyclists rode by and one of them asked me what time it was. I looked at one of my watches and told him and they thanked me and rode on.
I remember in my late teens I was attending community college before I transferred to University. Even though I lived in Kits, which was probably only a 20 minute drive from the college in Vancouver, I still had to take three buses to get to class, one for each street. This was almost impossible to navigate successfully and in a timely manner. I had a bus transfer that was in a wrinkled, mangled state by the time I was on the last bus, I had a backpack that was too full of textbooks and a watch that I hadn’t bothered to move the extra hour forward in March, and so I just looked at it and added an hour for the next seven months that year. By November the next school year, I didn’t have to do anything. What a strange student mind I had.
Back then, as I struggled with my timeliness, I had a pair of jeans that I had worn enough that some rather interesting holes in the denim had organically appeared. I had a sewing machine, so I had started patching the jeans with bits of fabric that had come from my grandmother. Colorful fabric. Sometimes curtains or cushion covers ended up being miniskirts or were used for other things. The smaller bits I used for patches. One day, on my way to college waiting by the back door of the bus to get off at Granville, there was a mean old lady that looked at me with disdain as I stood there getting ready to step down, she looked at my jeans and told me I should be ashamed of myself for dressing in such a disgusting way (she said something in this nature, and had a horrible scathing expression on her face). I can’t remember what I said in reply, I might have rolled my eyes and muttered shut-up under my breath as I got off the bus. Nobody in Vancouver had ever said anything to me about what I wore before. It was quite good in a way though, I felt like I was from the ‘60’s or something.
I usually measured the shock value of my clothing when I went to visit my Mom or my Grandma, if nothing was said by them, then there was usually no alarm. When I was about 15, I had an grey men’s suit jacket I had got from the charity shop. I liked wearing it with jeans and white t-shirts. One day I was supposed to go clothes shopping with my mom and I had put on this particular suit jacket to wear. I didn’t do this to anger anybody, but the alarm went off. My mother was very much enraged and we argued quite ferociously about why I could or couldn’t wear the blazer, and then there was silence and we didn’t talk for a little bit before we left for shopping. I can’t recall who won that argument but I think she might have. I didn’t understand why the jacket bothered her though, it wasn’t provocative and there were no holes in it. Perhaps she didn’t like me wearing old man’s clothing when she accompanied me at the store.
I think humans have a need to measure things and keep track. What is the measurement of shock value of what a 15 or a 19 year old wears? How long did it take me on that run, was I faster than yesterday? How many hours of sunlight between sun-rise and sun-down? How long do I have to wear the jeans to wear out the fabric? Through the time that we measure, there is also a transformation. The curtains become the skirt or the patches on jeans. Even the blood in our veins they say changes every seven years. Something becomes something new, and then the measuring starts again.
These days, I find often I only carry an i-phone in my purse pocket which means I have to search in my purse to check my phone for the time. If I am out running, I am digging around in my running kit where I have stashed my phone (usually somewhere in my sports-bra) to see what the time is.
It is said that human eyesight is almost sensitive enough to see what it needs to by the light of the Milky Way, and that the full moon offers more than enough light than is needed, and in some ways I feel we have missed out in living in an age of electric light. It is said that the wearing of watches began in the 17th century when watchmen needed to measure their shifts. I wonder about our necessity to measure time, but then I know that is reality, it is needed. I figure if I need to measure time, I can use it to measure happiness in seconds, minutes, and hours.
This is a work of creative nonfiction; it contains no composite characters and no names have been changed. I have tried to recreate events, locales and conversations from my memories of them, but I have taken some storytelling liberties, due to my interpretation of events, fading memory, lack of time machine, and need to cherry-pick some memories over others in order to express my thoughts within the story.