I've been using this same watch since December 2015. It has faded a lot and it is no longer as lovely as it was the first time I saw it that chilly December night.
Milton Stelle Watch and some bitter-sweet memories...
It was one evening in December 2015. While putting away my belongings ready to call it a day, I was silently crying due to a conflict with my online student. My boss, an owl-eyed man, noticed my tears and asked me why. I felt that I did not need to explain why, so I remained silent.
My boss then asked me to prepare a simple dinner right there in the office. When dinner was served, he went to his small private office and returned with a small white box. He asked me to open it, right there at the dinner table.
Before me was the most beautiful wristwatch I had ever seen.
My heart skipped a beat at the sight but wait… the box was not new. Obviously, it had been placed in a dusty or smoky area for a long time. What was once a white box was now off-white. It means, it once belonged to someone else.
I checked the inside of the box. There, underneath the small pillow on which the watch was attached, were some parts of the bracelet that were already removed, obviously, in order to adjust the bracelet to the size of the first owner’s wrist. My suspicion was thus confirmed. The watch once belonged to someone from my boss’ past.
For some painful reasons the watch was given back to the giver. This was the same watch which my boss told me about in July of that same year while we were in Starbucks. “I have a rose gold watch I'm keeping in my suitcase. I will give it to you.”
My question was bold. “Why did SHE give this back to you?”
“It’s a secret.”
I did not want to rub old wounds. I focused on my bowl of ramen, trying to ignore the knot forming in my stomach.
“Please take care of it. Don’t lose it. Don’t break it. It’s very expensive. My gift to you.”
He told me to put it on, and I did. It was still too big for me even though it had been adjusted before.
I could see the pain on my boss' face when he said “It’s a secret.” His eyes were downcast. Aha. The watch witnessed the birth and the death of a romance. At the same time, I wondered why he decided to give it to me.
I checked the price online and it was a few pesos away from P10,000.00. The woman, whoever she was, was special to him. No doubt, there was a valid reason---albeit a painful one---why the woman had to give it back to him.
The next day, I went to a nearby watch repair center to have the bracelet adjusted to the size of my wrist. I smiled when it finally fit my wrist. It was officially mine.
And so the Milton Stelle watch became a silent witness of the fights and makeups that I had with the giver. The giver of the watch went away a long, long time ago, but this watch still reminds me of what we had—the ups and downs, the fights and the makeups, the difficult situations that we vowed to survive and did survive, both the crazy and the sane, the joy and the pain.
I've been wearing this same watch since December 2015 for it's the only one I've got. Now, it's March 13, 2021. The color has faded a lot---it is no longer as lovely as it was when I saw it for the first time on that chilly December night.
I will definitely have a much better watch in the future but for now, I want to enjoy the company of my Milton Steele. This will always have a special spot in my heart. Sometimes I wear it when I go to bed, thinking of the might have beens and could have beens. When I see it, I still wonder why my boss decided to give it to me. Maybe because at that time, there was nobody to give it to.
The boss and I went our separate ways long time ago, but he left with me many things that remind me of the way we were.
And yes, this watch on my wrist is one of those memories.