Saturday, April 14, 2018

its time for you to

Of the many treasures which this small apartment overlooking the lakes has given me, a chief favorite is living within ringing distance of the basilica bells. My watches all stopped at 8:24am one morning before my 9:30 class. And I haven't bothered to buy new ones. Because I don’t want new watches—I want the old ones to work again. Replacing something is not repairing it, and only a fool or a salesperson would tell you the difference doesn't matter.

The bells from the basilica keep time for me, and I have begun to set my day to the chimes they sing.

One bell informs me I'm late for class if I don't leave right then. 9:15 means its time to leave the apartment. If I walk out into the front-yard of the quad, screened by trees, and find I am alone, I am probably either early or late (usually late).

One Friday, I walked across South Quad at 8:20am, and there was no one there. It was just myself and the sunrise and one blonde boy long-boarding past O'Shag. I was wearing my blue dress, which makes me feel like I'm on a way to a wedding reception.

I spent a week without a watch or a phone in Rome, and I found my ears well-trained to find the time by parsing out the ringing of church bells.

When lost, I listened for the bells—bells indicate a time and a way.

Bells are an old species of technology. They belong at celebrations, at rituals, they belong, most fundamentally, in community. Bells are a relic from a past which reminds us that time is something humans do together. Time bends and warps inside your head, it twists and turns back on itself in weird ways in your heart, on your own, in the wild, time doesn't matter. Seasons matter. Days and nights matter, but the persnickety business of ringing off every quarter hour only matters if there's something waiting for you at the end of the last chime.

The clarion of bells interrupts me in the middle of my day. It is a clear, sunny day, and the sky is so blue it is shining. There is a shade of blue which is just simply iridescence. That's the color the sky is today. Matted onto this shining backdrop are feathery banks of clouds, gently gouached-on by an impressionist painter's distracted yet delicate fingertips. The sky, the clouds, the bells interrupt routine with a reminder that every step is a step on the way to wedding feast.

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