Over nearly two years of living in Germany, I grew accustomed to the idea that I was relatively “alone” until about 2 p.m. When we first got there and I had less than nothing to every day, it was at around 2 that I would sidle over to the computer and start poking around on the internet, eyeing my Skype contacts list hungrily. Between 2 and 3, all of my friends would start to sign onto Skype and Gmail, and I could finally share my exploits from the day so far. Which were usually minimal and involved [misunderstanding/not being able to find something] at the [grocery store/doctor’s office/bank].
As I started working for U.S. companies, the time difference felt like an advantage – or a hinderance, if I needed someone to answer a question I had early in the morning my time. But it still gave me half a day of quiet working and planning, without having to respond to emails or feel obligated to contact anyone, knowing that they wouldn’t be awake until noon at the earliest. I was snuggled in my own little bubble of time, protected from the demands of everyone else that I needed to communicate with. And I kind of liked it.
This perception extended not just to work people, but to friends and family, and it was a hard mindset to shake even after coming back to the U.S. I’m still stuck in UTC +1 , confused to see friends online in the morning, and wondering why so of my European friends are up so early posting on Facebook.
Moving back here by myself and still trying to combat jetlag while my husband stayed in Germany made it even worse. He was in my time zone, and everyone else we knew was not, right? So how could he possibly be Skyping with his EST parents at 9 pm our time? Oh right. Because “our time” was no longer a thing. He had his time and I had mine. So if he’s in the “other” time zone, I subtract six to find out when he is, right? Wrong. He was up before me, well into his day while I was still struggling to put together a cup of coffee – and perform some simple math, it seems.