Daylight savings kicked in today. Every year, on falling back, I think of one particular night in my life. It’s one I actually think about often, but am absolutely guaranteed to think about when the time changes.
It’s 1994 or 95, and I’m studying film at CU Boulder. Part of studying film at CU at the time was taking Stan Brakhage’s survey classes — I don’t remember anymore what they were actually called — which amounted to just watching films for two hours. This was always an evening class. It started at 7pm.
One December evening I arrived at class a full half-hour early, which may have been the only time I was early to any class over the course of my college career. It was an absolutely frigid night, and I didn’t have anywhere else to go, so I just stood in the hallway outside of the classroom. Stan’s office was directly above the classroom, in an odd sort of loft space that was accessible by a stairway that went only to that one room. And he was up there, talking on the phone. I think we might have been the only two people in the building.
I could hear him, of course, as if he were standing next to me. If you ever had the pleasure-slash-terror of hearing Stan speak, you know how his voice carried, even when he was speaking gently. Which he was not at this particular moment. In fact, he was arguing with his wife. And what they were arguing about, as far as I could tell after guiltily and desperately eavesdropping for a few minutes, was his reluctance to continue seeing his therapist. He was adamant, and after going around and around about it for a while, I suppose his wife must have said something like “But WHY NOT, Stan?” and he answered with a sentence that, coming out of Stan Brakhage’s mouth, struck me as probably the single most unassailable thing I had ever heard or ever would. Which was:
“Because it’s dark out there, and cold.”