In That Other Half of the World

December 24 1968. Image courtesy of NASA.

Today is the fall equinox–the day when dark and light are almost equal. The day when our spot in the rotation around the Earth, given the tilt of our axis, points towards things growing darker and colder. But just for a time.

In that other half of the world, it’s the spring equinox–the day when dark and light are almost equal. The day when the spot in the great ellipsis around the sun, and the tilt of that same axis, point towards the days growing warmer and longer. But just for a time.

Same planet + same moment in time = totally different experience.

Vivi asked me last night if it was morning in Japan.  “Pretty much,” I answered. Our sun only rises over the pine trees in the backyard because it has set for that other half of the world.

G grew up in that other half of the world. I asked him once what everyone did on Christmas Day and he said, “Go to church, eat, then go to the beach.” Late December is high summer in that other half of the world.

When I was in Brasil a few years ago, I couldn’t get enough of looking at the stars at night. To think–these were entire constellations I had never seen! In all those travels to Europe and across North America, this was my first time looking at the night sky of that other half of the world.

Something so concrete that we measure our years by it, like the seasons, is completely opposite for the other half of the world. Something so eternal that we use them to navigate, like the stars, can be absolutely, 100% different for the other half of the world.

It’s so hard to remember that it isn’t fall everywhere. Or it isn’t morning everywhere.

That’s one reason I think we all need to travel if given the chance–to see the other half of the world and remember that their world is just as real and right and ordinary to them as ours is to us.

My Wesleyan sister, Bryndis, and I were talking via Facebook a few weeks ago. Her family used to live in the same small town of Gay Georgia, where I grew up before they moved one town over. She asked, “As my Mom would say, who are your folks?” I said, “We got Crouches, Todds, Mathews, Garretts, O’Neals…I think that about covers it!” She told me hers until I recognized a name. She said her mama still worships at Mount Venus Baptist in Gay.

I brought up the subject of how strange it is we grew up on the same dirt, graduated from the same college, but had such different experiences. We both have strong families, good grades, lovely manners, and we know the same shortcuts over back roads. We have different colors of skin. There are exits on the interstate where she won’t stop, even in the daylight.

When I went back to Gay last month for a family funeral, my sister and I drove straight to the cemetery instead of following the funeral procession.  It’s easy to find–go through the one red light then turn left onto Cemetery Street. Drive through the dark tunnel of oak trees and up the hill. We parked the car in the back corner and walked over to our family plot inside a mossy brick wall with ornate metal gates. I recognized the names on the headstones that we passed–Baughns, O’Neals, Estes, McCrarys, Turners. Something struck me as odd. Here we were on Cemetery Street in the cemetery, but where were the Stroziers, the Renders, the Germanys? I had grown up thinking this was The Cemetery, but clearly there must be another one here in town. And I had no earthly idea where the black cemetery was in my own hometown.

It shouldn’t have surprised me. There is nothing more segregated than a cemetery. It was one of those “other half of the world moments,” just as jarring as realizing that spring is also fall and morning can be night.

When you never get out of your half of the world, it’s easy to forget that the other half lives on the same planet, on the same day, in a COMPLETELY different experience.

As different as night and day.




9 thoughts on “In That Other Half of the World

    1. Support

      Thanks, Wendy! I love that I never KNOW what I’m going to write about when I set out at the start of the day.

  1. Melisa Wells

    It’s the best reason to travel, as you mentioned. Such an eye-opener to have your life enriched by seeing other kinds of people, other beautiful vistas, and other ways of living!

    1. Support

      Amen! I know there are other ways to learn the same lessons, but travel is the thing that has done it for me.

  2. Beth

    It’s such a small world. I grew up going to the Gay County Fair every year. My grandfather had a booth there and I would sit and run around the fair all day. When I got older, I would sit in the booth and ‘run’ it as my grandparents went o lunch. My favorite place to watch was the sandman’s area. I loved watching those colorful creations being made. To this day, in my forties, I still love sand. LOL…..but I remember the smells and noise of the fair like it was yesterday. I can even tell you where my grandfather’s booth was. It was right around the corner from the sandman and before you went into the building where they had other vendors and booths. On the backside of the building. I can remember the dancing, the cloggers, and the music. You brought up great memories for me today. Thank you.

    1. Support

      I spent many a dollar at the Sandman! My Grandmother Irene was one of the original exhibitors at the Cotton Pickin’ Fair. She sold cakes, preserves and oil paintings. I have the same memories about working in the booth!

  3. Chris Antenen

    Lovely, Ashley, I got chills when you talked about the stars on the other side. now I have to look to see which stars we have in common. We do have some close to the dividing circumference, dun’t we? I am woefully ignorant. Or don’t we? I’m not picky.
    It’s that geography teacher in college She scared the %^#_*(&#$ out of me.

    i didn’t know this week what I was going to write, but every day? No No No

    1. Support

      I think the closer you are to the equator, the better the chance of some shared stars. Now that would make a lovely topic!


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