The distance is often marked by time shifts, travel several miles west and you eventually enter a new time zone. Cross the state line from Georgia to Alabama, you leave the Eastern time zone and switch to the Central time zone. By simply crossing the state line in Alabama, you “regain” an hour. Keep traveling west, the hours are rolling back. Drive to California and the Pacific time zone; when it’s 1 p.m. over there, it’s 4 p.m. in Georgia. The kilometers traveled east or west change over time, which seems to add to the distance traveled. Switching between time zones represents real-time time travel, but there is another type of time travel, which represents an equally large leap in distance without having to travel at all. If you’ve ever changed your sleep schedule or moved from shift to shift, you’ve probably walked that great distance without changing your address.In my youth, my wilder days, my single days, I was a night owl. Then it was not uncommon for my head to hit the pillow at around the same time I now get out of bed. I knew how the streets of Valdosta looked in the middle of the night. At Waffle House, I was on a first name basis with the late night crew. I could tell a person what was open during the wee hours of the morning. And I knew a lot of other late night people, my old friends who were night owls too, and I lived that way for years. Then I changed my time zone. There hasn’t been a major change, but the change has been cataclysmic. I still lived in County Lowndes and worked for the newspaper, but got married, became a father, my beloved closed late-night hangout. The night owl who walked around slept or at least stayed closer to home. And slowly, I went from a late night reveler to an early riser. It looked like a different world, when in fact it was the same world, the same city, in a different time. I had made a personal time zone change without physically traveling a foot. But even this type of time change can be related to distance. Usually a change in personal time zone has something to do with a change in his life. A person gets married, or a couple has children, or you get older and priorities change, or you just can’t get through the night like you once could, or you start a new job with a different schedule. at night, many of the same lifestyle changes also apply, except that a person is now forced to become a night owl because they have come of age and are single, or divorced, or sleeping differently, or can’t sleep in Often since my time zone has changed, it’s like I’ve moved to another city. It’s like going to sleep in Georgia at 5 a.m. and waking up in California at 5 a.m. Time has passed on the map and the clock says you haven’t moved a foot. It’s just that you wake up now the moment you fell asleep once. But it looks like a different place, not necessarily better or worse, but different. I rarely see my old night owl friends, but when we do meet it seems a lot of their time zones and lives have changed too. You see it from a different perspective. The curve of the road you knew at 3 a.m. is still the same curve at 9 a.m., but it isn’t because it’s different, the time has changed, your outlook has changed. Your destinations are as different as your arrival and departure times, but the personal time zone change is as vast as the miles. The distance cannot be bridged by simply returning east at the time you knew it, as everything has changed and the faces are no longer so familiar in the nightlight glow. Dawn is no longer the end of a day but the beginning. Yet in the world of time zones, the sun always sets and rises, and it’s still 5 a.m. somewhere. Dean Poling is an editor at the Valdosta Daily Times. .