Last weekend I drove a few hours to meet a friend I haven’t seen in a long time. Because we live so far apart, we found a city about halfway in between her place and mine, where we try to meet once a year. This past weekend, we stayed in a bed and breakfast, a large, historic home in a residential area.

Typically staying in such places is homier than a generic hotel room, but this one had quirks that set us on edge. The owner was obviously a clock enthusiast, as clocks of all sizes ticked and chimed in every room in the house. On the third floor, where our room was located, there were even clocks in the bathroom. One in particular ticked loudly, and as we brushed our teeth, my friend joked, “It’s as though it’s saying, you don’t have much time left; is this really how you want to spend it?”

I thought about what it would be like to live in a space like that all the time, loud with the sound of seconds ticking away, every fifteen minutes marked with chimes. Maybe after awhile, it would change my relationship to time. Maybe I would feel anxious and harried at first, then settle into a different state, where the sound of each second is always present but unremarkable. Just background noise. Nothing to be acted upon. Each one no more or less important than the next.

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