How fragile we are. How easily taken apart. Like a Lego spaceship, we can be pulled from stern to aft, brick by brick, no matter what color, shape or size. It is staggering to think that that we’ve managed to survive as long as we have.

This week, my watch broke.

I’ll back up. I’ve had roughly the same watch since I was 11 years old. Not the same watch exactly, but the same basic thing. It’s a Casio; a cheap, crappy, obviously destructible, digital watch. I’ve never worn anything else.

For reference’s sake, I usually say it’s the same watch that Napoleon Dynamite wore in the movie, but I think we’re far enough away from that movie that no one remembers the watch at this point. Most of the response I get when I say that is, “OMG, that dancing scene is LOLZ.”

It wasn’t actually the watch itself that broke. I’ve never had one of the Casios break on me, and as I say, I’ve been wearing them for roughly 18 years. I’ve never had one stop keeping time, but the straps dry out, and crack, and pinch my arm after maybe two years, and so I have to keep a steady stream of watches coming in and going out.

Not the end of the world, right? Casio watches are cheap and readily available, and in the meantime, I’ve got my cell phone on my person and any number of clocks and calendars I can look at to find out what time it is. A new watch will be had—or at least a replacement strap for the one I have now—it will be fine. Life goes on.

But it doesn’t. In the last week, I have become a manic, wrist-staring fool. More times than I care to admit, I’ve pushed up my sleeve and looked, really looked, expecting to find out what time it is, and when I’ve failed to do so by those means, I’ve stood, paralyzed by not knowing.

If you find yourself, dear reader, saying, “I don’t get it, why don’t you just go buy a new watch?” you’re absolutely right. No argument here. The issue is, oddly enough, one of time. As in, I don’t have any. This whole past week, I’ve tried to get out of work, or school, or wherever I was, in a reasonable amount of time to allow for a purchase to be made, and failed. Failed hard.

And in the meantime, I’ve more or less fallen apart over it. My broken-strap watch I’ve kept in my pocket not so much so I can take it out and see what time it is as for a security blanket. I’ve looked at the pale stripe on my wrist longingly—just did, actually—and been desperate to know what time it is. Right now, it’s 7:21 a.m., according to the computer. I know this isn’t hard stuff.

Which brings me back to the first paragraph. I have upset one of the most minor routines in my life, and not for the first time, and my reward has been an emotional and existential shattering that it would take more words than I have to fill this space with to fully detail. Transgendered men and women talk about being a “woman in a man’s body,” or vice versa. I’m a man with a watch trapped in a man without a watch’s body. That’s actually how wrong it feels to have my wrist empty.

I’ve become less effective at work, distracted at home, and I don’t even want to talk about the slop that came out of the homework I had to do this weekend. What a mess. And for what? For a rinky-dink, stupid digital watch that costs roughly $15 and that I could have if only I could muster the half-hour for the trip to get it. It’s times like this I’m glad to know that I’m pretty much a complete weirdo and not at all representative of society at large, because I’m fairly sure that, if I was, humanity would have collapsed a long time ago.

The absolute saddest part? It just now occurred to me to buy it online.

Firing up Amazon,

JJ Koczan

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