The Place Where Time Stands Still

Not the clock

I was at a party a few years ago when one of the guests questioned who actually lived in their hometown.

I was the only one who raised her hand.

Sheepishly, I admitted it. Yes, I do live in my hometown. Well, technically a few towns over, but here in Sullivan County that’s almost the same thing.

I was sitting in the Callicoon Theater on Saturday night, staring at the Mills & Evans clock that illuminates the numbers so you can track the time even when the lights go down when I recalled the conversation.

At the time, the question felt barbed, critical. Perhaps I was oversensitive or perhaps it was just that. Judgmental.

But as I stared at that clock, a feeling crept out from my stomach along my extremities, fill me to the tips of my toes and fingers with a sense of something I can only describe as comfort.

I remember looking to those numbers as a teenager, calculating the time I had left to munch popcorn and giggle with my friends before one of my parents would pull up in front of the theater, ready to take my home.

Saturday night, I was delighted in a way I am always delighted to see the clock was still there, even as an old-fashioned projector sat in the lobby as a display, a reminder that things have changed greatly on the technology end.

I was relieved to see the bits of the theater that have been there since I was a girl remain. Perhaps this is a reminder that they just don’t make things like they used to. Whatever the reason, I’ll take it.

I stared at that clock in the way I always had, again calculating the time left. Only this time I needed to factor how many minutes of date night remained before we’d have to return to house, child and babysitter.

I can’t help but note an irony in the consistence of seeing that same clock every time I go to the movies.

By definition, a clock marks the passage of time.

Not that clock.

I look at the blue numbers, and it’s as if time stood still.

I am here, still living in my hometown, going to the same movie theater, checking books out of the same library, running to the same grocery store for my milk.

But the barbs of those question no longer sting. I have made my peace with the assumptions about people who come back to their hometowns. I’m not uncultured or insecure. I’m not limited. I’m not stuck.

I’m living in a place where familiar friends await me behind every corner, ready to serve as they always have. Even if it’s just to tell me that there’s still time to sit back and enjoy the show.

Do you live in your hometown?

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Image via svintus2012/Flickr

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