I realized today that my watch stopped. Look as many times as I did, there stood a face, forever frozen at 4:13. Harvey MacKay’s words came to me when he said, “Time is free, but it’s priceless. You can’t own it, but you can use it. You can’t keep it, but you can spend it. Once you’ve lost it, you can never get it back.” Quite the summation of just how valuable time really is. But personally, staring at that “stuck” minute, all I could think about were the minutes in my life that I wish were really stopped … frozen, for me to visit in a more tangible place than my sometimes-dust-laid memory. Though there are quite literally thousands. I came up with a list of twelve – twelve memories (in no particular order) I wish, like my broken watch, I could have stopped time for, and lived in just a little bit longer. They are not the obvious moments … the ones like proposals or births. Rather, they are minutes you would never know matter unless you know me well. So today I am inviting you in. Welcome to my memory.
1. Twenty-Three: I am surrounded by cobbled streets and a thick forests. There is a slight wind, but the sun is warm for November. No one in the world knows where we are … because this is an ancient city, in an ancient country, that I’m not usually a part of. And I feel such peace at being lost and disconnected from everything except for his hand that holds mine … tight.
2. Twenty-Six: I am holding my one-year-old daughter – her room and my soul are finally, beautifully-quiet. And right before I lay her down to sleep, and she puts her tiny hands on either side of my face, holding me there and telling me with her eyes, that she loves me.
3. Sixteen: I am sick, horribly so with a cold that leaves me utterly-too-exhausted for the Christmas revelry of my extended family. But then my boyfriend nudges my drooping head to his lap, running his fingers through my hair until I am sleeping right there in the middle of my family party. My sweet knight in a bright, red-wool sweater, representing “us” in place of “me.”
4. Twenty-Four: It is beyond twilight, beyond midnight. I am sleepy, but the stars are awake and I am smiling as I join them to feed my brand-new-from-heaven baby boy. That night, we have the grandest conversation about the most important things of life he has to learn … things like how Santa makes his journey in a day and why it will be important someday for him to understand the word “chivalry.” He smiles, I smile … and I think the moon does too.
5. Eighteen: I am in Hawaii with my mom and sister, sitting with frozen-delicious-somethings. Our blonde heads are tossed back, as the sound of our laughter collides with the crashing tide.
6. Thirty-Two: I am in my classroom, with my favorite class (yes … I lied, I DO have favorites and you all know who you are). I am sighing more than usual, taking more time to “just be” with them … because our year is coming to a close and I will soon lose them to time. I smile at the memory I share with them of the greatest compliment I’d received earlier that day, when a student told me he wished I was his mom. Then a different student looks at me completely unfazed, and says, “Well yeah … we all do.”
7. Eight: I am in the back of our car between my sister and un-offical-sister (also known as my cousin), baking as our legs stick to the summer-heated seats. Then, all arms and elbows, we are running and howling, racing each other as the too-hot-sand is ricocheting everywhere before we plunge into the waiting lake. Breathless, we surface as mermaids, back into pretend … right where we’d left it.
8. Seventeen: My dear friend writes me a letter. Long-handed and with intent. It isn’t a text. It isn’t an email … in fact there is nothing quick or hurried about it and that is what makes it precious. That is what made all of the letters precious. Someone spent time on me, without my asking … and gave me so many words to cherish.
9. Thirty: My daddy calls me out of the blue to tell me he misses me – to tell me he believes in me and in my writing, but mostly in my imagination. We talk for a long time and his voice is so warm I can almost pretend I am sitting across from him, instead of the gap of four-hundred miles. When we finally say goodbye, we don’t … instead he tells me he will meet me in Neverland and our dreams.
10. Fifteen: I am going on a tropical holiday with my family. It is winter and I should be completely blissed-out, but I am sad. I am going to miss Christmas. Then he came … one of my best friends, to deliver a small jelly-jar of pine needles. “So you can take Christmas with you,” he said, knowing, as always, exactly what I needed.
11.Twelve: We are in seventh grade, and the most awkward stage of our pre-adolescent lives. My best friend invites herself over and we have yet another much-needed sleep over. I cut her hair, unevenly, and she grows out my bangs (maybe the best gift she ever gave me). We laugh until I am afraid I’ll pee, and my dad shouts up the stairs for us to “Quiet down now, I mean it!” Which only makes us laugh louder, and longer than before.
12: Nineteen: My new boyfriend (now my husband) needs hernia surgery two months into our relationship. It is a bit nerve-wracking to be in the waiting room all day with his mother (who I barely know) and I have this secret, dreaded fear that under anesthetic he will not remember me. Hours later, the doctor calls us in; he is waking up. I trail behind his mother, a little lost and unsure until … “Where is she?” is the first thing he says.
Now I realize that these memories mean infinitely more to me than they could mean to you. They quite possibly may have been un-relatable or even dull from an outside perspective … but to me – they are bright places in my wandering, wondering mind. They are shiny, small delights, like opening a box of found- treasures you’d forgotten you had.
I know I am not “your” teacher, but I am going to give you an assignment today anyway. I want you to think of a few watch-ceasing moments. Dream about and linger on the memories you wish you could’ve lived more than once. Do not restrict yourself with any unnecessary regualtions. Know full-well that tomorrow your choices could change. Let yourself be free and remember any age, any person, and any feeling … whether or not that person or moment holds any relevance to you today. They did then, and then is enough of a reason to remember. And if you’re nostalgic like me, and enjoy the share … know I would enjoy the listen, and tell me about it. I would be honored to find my inbox full of your cherished significances! Feel free to email me, or leave a comment for us all to enjoy.