When I lived on the East Coast, I didn’t really need to think about the time outside my zone. I wasn’t a high-powered global investor. Most of my friends and family were nearby. I changed my watch to spring forward and fall back, and moved through time like a fish that doesn’t know it’s wet.
But now I live in Central Time, while my son and my parents and many friends and loved ones remain in Eastern Standard. Now I find that my time is no longer The Time. I calculate before I call, “If it’s ten o’clock here, it’s eleven o’clock there. Is that too late?” And when it came time to ring in the New Year, at my house we did it twice: once as the New Year hit New York, and then again when it rolled into Texas. We couldn’t find a station broadcasting Time Square at 11 p.m. CST, so we tuned to Univision and counted down in Spanish. Even in another language it seemed right, and somehow more real, to celebrate when the New Year came to America and to our kin, and not just to our town.
If our only communications were letters or emails, things might be different. Then I could ignore our temporal differences and think only of miles–our degree of separation only one, not two—only miles and not so many miles as to become Time. But as it is, though the time differences are ever-present in my mind, I go through my day surrounded by a cloud of loved ones pulled together by text messages and phone calls. You are there but you are here. The miles are undeniable. Our hours go by different names. And yet we move together through time—forward, fluidly, back and forth across the Zones.