Monday, January 18, 2016

Under the cover of darkness

Every year after the time change, I would venture that the vast majority of us walk around saying things like, “I can’t believe how dark it gets.  And so early, too!”  We repeat these words, day after day, and are legitimately surprised every year, even though we went through the same thing 365 days before.
For no truly good reason, when the days get shorter, we tend to move less.  Lethargy in general is one thing, but we don’t like to even leave the house if we don’t have to.  I have baked bread from scratch more than once simply because I didn’t want to drive the five minutes to the grocery store.
But tonight, I had to go.  After an earlier than usual dinner, I backed out and said out loud, “Man, it’s really dark!  And so early, too!”  With minimal streetlights in my quiet neighborhood, I suddenly noticed that the upstairs light was on in my neighbor’s house.
“The kids must be in their playroom,” I thought.
The next neighbor’s kitchen lights were blazing.  “Ah, dinnertime.”
Across the street I saw the entire downstairs lit up.  “Looks like the whole family is home,” I decided, and then shook my head back to the reality that I was being a Peeping Tom and spying on people that I care about. 
On I continued to the store, slowly making my way through town this dark early evening.  I saw kitchens aglow, televisions beaming through front room windows.  I saw someone working in their garage, taking full advantage of the rare warm temperatures. 
I was completely and utterly a Peeping Tom, but not at all ashamed.
When the weather gets colder and the nights get darker, we all seem to turn to comfort to get us through.  Personally, I would wear sweat pants from mid-November through March if I was able, and every night would be a casserole or a pot of soup and we would all be sound asleep by 8:00PM.  I’d only wear slippers and read sappy books and drink lattes from giant mugs that take two hands to reach around it.
I don’t think we can help it.  We crave comfort when the mercury falls and the sun barely peeks out to say hello.  So we look to other ways warm our soul and brighten our smile, and I dare say that spying on your fellow citizens just might be one way to do that.  Knowing that good people are going about their lives and eating their casseroles and watching their sappy movies somehow makes me feel better if I’m forced to drive through the middle of the night darkness in early evening.

Does that mean I won’t make exaggerated comments about how dark it is?  No.  Does it mean that I’ll make sure my curtains and blinds are closed a little tighter?  Probably.  At least until Spring.

Originally written/published 11/23/14.

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