We were driving along one of the bucolic back roads near our home in Williamsburg, Massachusetts when my wife exclaimed, “Whoever invented the saying, Fall Back, Spring Forward was a genius.” I agreed. It’s a great way to remember which way the clocks go twice a year. Daylight savings and the “fall back” has been on my mind a lot lately. I think the origins of saving daylight had to do with moving more of the day's light to the time of day that was most productive for the farmers. But what is the purpose of saving daylight for morning in this day and age? There is a funny meme out there that says something like “I can’t wait until the clocks fall back so that it gets dark at 4 pm, said no one, ever!” It is funny because it is true. But two things can be true at once. I, for one, am looking forward to the fall back.
I leave for work between six and six-thirty in order to get to my job at the food bank in Hatfield by seven. It is really dark these mornings. And cold. The freeway would be quicker, and I could leave later if I took it. But the country roads of Western Massachusetts provide so much more than a means to a way to work. After taking it slow through the town center, I turn left onto Kingsley where I’m transported back to a time and place of my youth, where I grew up a little neighborhood on May Terrace, in South Weymouth. As I wend my way through the narrow, dark streets with my high beams illuminating the crooked fences, the funny Halloween decorations of skeleton dogs and their skeleton people, I wonder about the kid who I used to see waiting for the school bus in front of his house on these frigid, shadowy mornings. He must have graduated last year. I wonder if he feels safer now that he is out of school. But maybe not. Maybe he is away at college now where there is no more protection than there is at a synagogue or a southern baptist church. Maybe, rather than wracking up hundreds of thousands of dollars in student debt, he is out learning a trade from his working-class Dad.
My mind wonders back briefly to the video I saw this morning of young people reciting a poem about school shootings, gun violence, deaths of their friends and nothing being done about it. Thinking of that poem makes tears sting my eyes that spill over, warming my freezing cheeks. But then out of the corner of my eye, I see my headlight shine brightly on some toilet paper strewn across a row of shrubs on the right side of the road. And then, I laugh out loud with delight when I see strands of white T.P. streaming off the big oak tree, fluttering eerily in the early morning dark. I’m instantly back to 16 years old when tee-peeing your friend’s house was just a fun Halloween prank that we could conspire and laugh about. And the only thing that I was worried about was getting caught smoking on the way to or from school, not about whether my Kevlar was securely in place in my backpack. It was a time way before these dark mornings of bad news scrolling past on my computer screen.
I'm looking forward to the fall back. To the mornings when I can see the sun coming up over the farms on the way to work. When it illuminates the fog around my favorite barn. When the black silhouettes of trees, dance against an orange sky. I’m looking forward toward to a few days later when good people stand in lines and cast their votes to bring back a system of fairness, equality, love and caring for all. I’m looking forward to the fall back when common sense takes the front seat and greed is pushed out of the car altogether. To a time when children are safely in the loving arms of their beloveds, of when they do not live in fear. I am looking forward to saving daylight. To the saving days. I, for one, am looking forward to the fall back.
Postscript: It's obvious I wrote this about a week before the clocks fell back. With the mid-term election behind us, I sleep a little easier, breath a little deeper, feel a little bit safer. There's still a ton shit more work to do to undo the damages done over the past two years. But for now, I'm going to just enjoy the fall back until the clocks move forward again.
Post-Script II: That last postscript was written yesterday morn, before reading the news. Now, this John Lennon line keeps running through my head; “I read the news today, oh boy.” The day after the election, I read the news with a great sense of glee and hope for a brighter, safer future. Record numbers of women, women of color and LGBTQ folx were elected in the mid-terms. The Democrats took control of the House of Representatives. The people’s people will be in positions to do something, to fix much that has been broken over the last two years and to move us back to a kinder, more compassionate, a safer America.
And then I read the news this morning, oh boy. Another mass shooting in America. I read the news today, oh boy... and I cried on my way to work for the hundredth time this year. I cried for the families looking forward to having their young ones home for the upcoming holidays. I cried for the young man who committed this atrocious act. I thought about the lack of support for mental health, the lack of common sense gun laws, the lack of care about our nation and our children. I thought about the Parkland kids and how this news must be triggering all the horror for them once again. I thought about the young people in my life who I call my kids; Cease, Sunni, Tiffany, Brandon, Alex, Megan, Tati, Arya, Jaylin, Scarlette and little Sunny. How do they view this mad world? Are they scared to go hang out at a club with their friends? Are they scared to go to school? I read the news today and oh boy am I angry. But I realized that now, mixed with the tears of rage and sadness, is the long missed feeling of hope. For with our big election wins on Tuesday, I know that the clocks will move forward again.