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The Best Time of Year Is When It Gets Dark at 4 P.M.

Long summer days just illuminate that everything is still terrible for longer

Here in the Northern Hemisphere, as we enter that time of year that happens annually when everyone loves to say things like, “Wow! I can’t believe it’s only 8 p.m.,” or, “I just love that it’s still bright outside,” I pull down my shades at 6 p.m. and I pretend that night has come early. 

It’s June, which means that I’m roughly three months of extended daylight hours away from my sweet — long winter nights. During this most morbid time of year, when the rest of the world quivers free from their winter coats and jeans, donning disgusting things like shorts and flip flops instead, I feel alone. I’m the mad man in the movie screaming, “the end is near.” But no one will listen until the volcano has erupted. My hope, herein, is to erupt that volcano for you. Before it’s too late.

When you’re an adult, extra daylight during the five-day workweek is an alarm that won’t shut off until 9 p.m. — a constant reminder during those extra daytime hours that you’re no longer free to rummage through the world like a teen without a summer job. Extra daylight is a mirage. It’s false hope. It’s a tax return check worth 50 bucks. It’s all those things you’re supposed to get excited for, because at least it’s something, instead of admitting that the entire system that regulates your freedom to a few sunny hours during one season of the year, is rotten. 

Long summer days are a conspiracy. They exist solely to keep people from an overwhelming feeling of deprivation. During the summer, when the days are long and full of tiny terrors, it’s typical to find solace in the extended hours of daylight. This is time most often used to go on walks or meet friends for late dinners outside under the protruding eyes of dusk. After all, visually speaking, it doesn’t feel too late. How could it? The sun is still shining at 8 p.m. 

But it is late. 

No one speaks of the consequences of meeting friends for drinks at 8 p.m., coming home at midnight and still feeling like you’ve got some more energy and therefore not falling asleep until 2 a.m. Last I checked, work starts at the same time during the summer and the winter. Corporate expectations and a clock-in, clock-out system designed to make sure you’re tired all year round, doesn’t make exceptions for the ghost of high school summers past that comes for all of us in the extended daylight hours. This isn’t Europe.

Long summer days aren’t romantic. They’re often sticky — crusted with sweat caused by the hours of the day dominated by Earth’s most violent UV rays. They’re the province of day drinkers and people who brunch endlessly. I’m not particularly fond of this brand of human. People, of course, “brunch” and day drink in the winter — there’s just less time for it and less insistence on its centrality to the contemporary human experience. Which I think we can all agree is a net win for the non-influencer faction of humanity. 

I admit too that, being a kid from Southern California, my opinion does not travel well. My life has been spoiled by good weather year-round. While others demand more heat, I bask in the early atrophy of the winter sun. Not only is it better for my skin but, mentally speaking, I feel like I’m staying up longer than I actually am, which equates to more sleep, more dreams, less conscious activity. Truly, the most blessed eight hours of an otherwise cursed 24. 

But above all else, the night sky is literally glimmering with possibilities. Why would anyone want less time with it?