A lot of things can get in the way of love: distance, money issues, being in different places in your life. But this week's essayist, Amanda Gefter, writes about facing a very different kind of challenge.
It's read by Logan Browning. She stars in the show "Dear White People," which has just released its third season on Netflix.
Where Are They Now?
Amanda Gefter and Justin are married now, and recently celebrated their two-year anniversary. Amanda says that they tried to have their wedding at a time that would work for everyone.
"I was like, how late can we push the ceremony? Because I need to be awake for this. It was at 7 p.m., and it was at a planetarium in Philadelphia, so it was under this giant moon and all these stars. And it was really beautiful and perfect and dark and lovely."
Amanda wakes up around 5 p.m., and goes to bed around 9 a.m. And she says that for her whole life, she felt she was meant to live on that schedule.
"There was a part of me that did know I was living on the wrong hours," she says. "I was at my parents’ house not too long ago and I was going through old diaries, and saw that when I was nine years old, I had written a diary entry where I said, 'I can’t wait until I’m older and I can live on alter-hours.'"
"Apparently it was a phrase that I had come up with to describe what I thought should be my normal day, when day and night are inverted. So I think I ... knew that someday I would be able to do that and not be so tired anymore."
Amanda says that her circadian rhythm disorder feels like having perpetual jet lag.
"A normal person eventually adjusts. [But] the definition of this disorder is that you're unable to do that."
When she changed her schedule, she says, "It was like the brain fog lifted. I could think straight, and I felt more normal. And it would be really hard for me to now go back."
Before Justin, Amanda mostly dated people whose schedules overlapped more with hers. But she knew that she and Justin were a great fit. These days, they are still making things work on opposite schedules.
"The hardest thing about it is not even so much the logistics, and it's not even so much not having time together, because in the evenings we have a fair amount of time when we're both up," she says. "It's the fact that we're never at the same point in our day, and we're never in the same mental space. So he gets home from work and he's been up all day, and he gets home and he immediately wants to talk and tell me everything that happened that day. And I'm like, 'Please let me have my coffee.'"
"Then around midnight my brain just turns on, and all of the sudden I'm a chatterbox and I want to tell him every idea I have for every writing piece that I'm working on. And he's trying so hard not to yawn, and all he wants to do is go to bed. We can be sitting right next to each other, but we're in different time zones."
Amanda says that she's learned to see her differences with Justin in a positive light.
"Justin always refers to me as his night elf, because the apartment will be a mess and he'll go to bed and then he wakes up and it's magically clean," she says. "And then he can do so much for me during the day that I'm incapable of doing. Writing a book to me seems feasible. Picking up my dry cleaning seems utterly impossible."
Amanda doesn't want to romanticize living at night too much. She knows that many people facing similar challenges aren't able to have a flexible schedule, and life can be very difficult. But she says she has truly come to love the nighttime hours.
"With this disorder, people ask, 'Would you change it if you could?' And I honestly don't know the answer," Amanda says.
"Justin would kill me for saying that, because he [thinks], of course I should change it. It would make our lives easier, and it would make my life easier. I'd be able to go to the post office if I had to."
"But at the same time, I really love the night. And I love having all that time and quiet to write and think and read and have my own little world. We get to have these different lives and then come together and share them. And I think that's special."
Voices in this Episode
Born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, Logan Browning moved to Los Angeles when she was 14 to pursue a career as an actress. She was quickly cast as recurring characters on "Summerland" and "Ned’s Declassified."
She booked the series regular role of ‘Brianna’ in Tyler Perry's television series "Meet the Browns," and found herself enjoying a successful acting career by day and collegiate studies at Vanderbilt University in the evenings.
Following "Meet the Browns," she moved back to Los Angeles. She continued to work steadily with TV roles on "Pair of Kings" and "The Secret Circle," while also shooting independent films including "When the Bough Breaks" and "Brotherly Love."
Browning stars in the Netflix Original Series, "Dear White People," as the lead role of ‘Sam,’ made popular by the original portrayal of the character by actress Tessa Thompson in the 2014 feature film of the same name. The show’s first two seasons launched to critical acclaim and just returned for a third.
Earlier this year, she starred opposite Allison Williams in Netflix’s film "The Perfection" from director Richard Shepard. This horror-thriller follows the story of two young cello prodigies and a sinister obsession that drives the dark pursuit of perfection. Browning received rave reviews for her performance from The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times both calling her a “revelation.”
Amanda Gefter is a science journalist who writes about fundamental physics, philosophy and cognitive science, and is the author of Trespassing on Einstein's Lawn (Bantam, 2014), a memoir about her quest with her father to understand the nature of reality. She lives in Watertown, Massachusetts.