The Magical Times of Day

I’m just going to go ahead and assume that everybody has a “magical” time of day: a moment on the clock face you enjoy, and seem to notice, more than any other configuration. It’s a visual association you’ve made somehow, based on a pattern or a story. 11:11, 1:11, 2:22, 3:33, 4:44 and 5:55 are the obvious ones, especially among the obsessive crowd, but also 4:20, 3:23 or 9:10:11 (if you’ve got seconds on your clock) or 6:00 am straight up and down, 5:00 pm workday, the numbers of your favorite radio station, or high &$@% noon. For me it’s 9:09.

The reasons are cryptic, I can only relate the circumstance: I was briefly a member of my high school mountain biking club which once took a trip to a state recreation park they called Nine-Oh-Nine. I think the name refers to a lot number or the acreage or something. I don’t quite remember and I’m not looking it up. I do remember that getting on the school bus in front of me, some kid changed the ROUTE NUMBER sign to display 909. He seemed excited. He turned out to have a good reason: 909 was an expanse of hilly, empty forest the mountain bikers had carved into a subtle acrobatic playground, a web of narrow trails and difficult challenges. All quite terrifying really if you’re just not very good at mountain biking and you don’t know any of the kids in the club. I never went back, but I’m glad I went, to try the trails, to see the course, and to catch those numbers between sight and spirit somehow, keeping them alive for the next twenty years, a small memory locked to a clock face at an unremarkable time of day. Magical.