Ripping Van Winkle a New One

Last night, 2 AM, November 4, 2012. Daylight Savings Time ended. And I tripped on my way to the top of the hill.

Tammy and I spent the day in Austin yesterday, a quickie outing, the only kind we really get anymore. These trips are almost preordained, timeline-wise. We head down in the morning, get an early lunch (eating is pretty much the only reason I go to Austin), do some vintage store browsing, basically piddle around until enough time has passed since lunch that we can justify eating again, and then, the crowning event of all trips to the capital, a final stop at Central Market to load up on the necessary extravagances of life (tea, in Tammy’s case; beer and coffee, in mine). But yesterday was different; it was special. There was an extra hour built into our day by the backsliding clock. We could party until our socks fell off. Hip Freakin’ Hooray!

Every year since I’ve been able to make my own decisions, there has been a ritual I have performed on the day Daylight Savings comes to an end. This was especially true when I was working in the church: Sunday was my main workday, so I could use (in theory) all the rest I could get. So, every year I swore to myself, tonight would be the night. I would finally take advantage of the extra hour and get a really good night’s sleep, be nice and refreshed for a hard day’s work. And, every year (predictably), that extra hour would instead become one more hour to stay up and accomplish the night owl’s usual nothing…and then spend the next morning yawning my head in two.

Why should this year be any different?

I woke up this morning to a harsh reality. I had turned, like a zombie at a fruitarian convention. From an hour and a half away, in one of the few places in Texas we can actually call enjoyable without triggering the gag reflex, Tammy and I had made it home and gone to bed by (time change considered) 9:30 at night. The argument I’d been having with myself for over a decade had been won, apparently by my aged self. Because that’s what it comes down to: I’m old enough now that the need for sleep trumps my nocturnal tendencies. I haven’t quite made it over the hill yet, but the hill’s getting steeper as I go.

Suspicions have been circling in the back of my mind for a while now. I turned thirty-five just one short month ago, and you might protest that this does not actually constitute old age as it is classically known. Granted. But tell that to the guy who tried to pull an all-nighter about two weeks before his birthday and discovered he was literally physically incapable of doing out of necessity now what he used to do for kicks in college. All the coffee in the world (or at least in my kitchen) wasn’t enough to keep me from collapsing under my own weight in the wee hours; super glue could not have kept my eyes open; rigor mortis would have failed to keep me upright.

So, fine, thirty-five is not “old.” It’s barely even middle age. But before all you sept- and octogenarians roll your eyes and tell me I’m exaggerating, stop for a second and remember how you felt when you were in my shoes–the day you realized you could not remain young forever. At least not by the clock.

It comes for us all, at different times and in different places. For me, it came at 7:45 on a Sunday morning, after a really good night’s rest. And the sad thing is, it made perfect sense. Maybe that’s the weirdest element of all.

It’s all sleepy-time from here…

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