When I moved into my new apartment, I bought an unusual clock at The Salvation Army. It seemed to have been made in the 80s. The clock’s upper quadrant resembles a fish tank. Its transparent case protects an inner sanctum of rotating bouquets of flowers. The artificial bouquet rotates and pulsates a variegation of fiber optic colors. The functional part of this object- the clock- is located at the base, with a golden face and frame. A working clock should be turning every second, but the time, but the second, minute, and hour hand of this particular clock is frozen at 3:45.
I wonder if it’s preserving the past or is it anticipating the future?
It is as if only the rotating flowers tell time. I only perceive the clock’s function through its spasmodic messages flickering through their fiber optic stems. I count the seconds at which the bouquet makes a complete 360 rotation. Up close, I place my hands to my face to block my periphery and obsessively transfix over the rotating bouquet. My present is blurred as I stare at the bouquet and have rushing memories of my past. I think about the time a friend was DJing, they were playing a track from a disco record, but abruptly slowed the tempo in half and everyone at the club experienced a shift in time. It was as if the slowing of the tempo challenged our realities consequently having to adapt to a new procedure. I remember looking down at my body and reorienting my movements to a new rhythm. I’m at my new apartment, far away from the people I know; oblivious to my surroundings. The first few days I walked around Pasadena trying to understand my new home. The sun beats down on my face and I’m in constant search of shade. I walk closely along buildings that cast shadows- I notice it is a practice among the few people that walk around. Most people prefer to drive their fuel-efficient cars. There are often groundskeeping workers along the neighborhood streets and company buildings, trimming the immaculate lawns. The efflorescent yards are abundantly adorned with roses, succulents, and palms. During the balmy nights, the scent of the gardens roams freely along the streets. When I walk home from work at dusk, I am struck by the scent of the gardenia bushes. But I can’t enjoy it for too long, as I’m in a constant rush to get home. Then, I come home, cook dinner, and eat while checking my homework assignments. With the spare hours of the night, I try to complete work and keep pace with my classes. Most nights I find my brain shrouded in a fog. These nights, I come to the realization that there must be something wrong with me. The days become monotonous, dull, and suffocating. It is as if the months have been one long day. The repetitiveness of my days seems to bleed into another, forgetting the present time.
When Mark came to visit me for the first time, he was certain that I lived at the edge of the world. As we were walking west of Colorado Boulevard the sun appeared to be setting along the road, giving the illusion there is a lower realm underneath, like a canyon where the world stopped. Sometimes when I’m there, I imagine walking close enough to the edge where I can see the panorama below the cliff. Perhaps in the bed of the canyon, society works differently from here, where their mores are opposite of ours; like the episode of SpongeBob where he ends up in the abyssopelagic zone, called Rock Bottom. Or maybe we’re living in Rock Bottom and we're doing things backwards? The hypnotizing smell of the Gardenias makes it difficult to discern. It could be that the wild parrots are trying to warn us with their foul scream and yowl.
“Walk across the great divide” is part of the lyrics to a Chris and Cosey song. I’ve found myself listening to it almost every day. While I am cooking, while I am headed to work, while I am headed to class, while I am headed anywhere- A song of transition. That’s where I find myself, in a place of ambiguity and time is in disarray. I yearn for change as recollections of my past sporadically cross my mind. Like the fiber optics pulsating colors and the flowers rotating and the time being frozen. But when time is motionless, the present seems like forever. So, I will walk across the great divide, walk across the great divide, walk across the great divide…
Laura Munoz is an aspiring teacher. She is currently an English major at at Pasadena City College.