It’s not yet four p.m. and not quite dark. That’s how I know our time is almost up.
We’ve been here a month, which includes the day they called the darkest of the year. December 21st: six hours, fifty-eight minutes, and forty-one seconds in the sun.
We’re into seven-hour days now, as winter begins to wane and the low ceiling above Glasgow lightens. Every year I get a little sad to see the days get gradually longer; soon the lamps will be of lesser use, and the sun’s fluorescence will be turned up to full blast. This year, doubly so. This year, I’ve watched whole days disappear in gloaming. Sunrises at 8:45 a.m., sunsets at 3:45 p.m. Pitch black by half-past four. And I will miss it.
Today, the twilight has a whitish glare to it. That’s how I know it isn’t proper twilight yet. Night is still an hour off. It’s still light enough to see the rain (and there is almost always rain).
In addition to these holidays with B. and his family (basking in the warmth of meats and meals and mince pies, pints and pints of Guinness, plus a bottle or two of Islay whisky and the wondrous fact of people who all genuinely like each other—even at the stressful times of year), I will remember one morning most clearly. A day that, even with the blinds and curtains opened wide, never quite became a day. There was just a deep, wet greyness.
I imagine if I lived here all year round I might feel flattened by this season of black and quiet gloom. Instead I’m rapt and warmed by it. As if, somehow, I might be hidden from the world back home by five time zones and this omnipresent dusk.
The world back home means forty hours a week spent in a chiropractic office, whose windows open only to an airshaft. But I’m going back a little warmer, with the knowledge that darkness isn’t always heavier than day.