America is such a fast society; busy people talking on mobile phones, travellers in big cities with heavy backpacks and briefcases, racing cars on motorways and a 24 hour news cycle. One almost can’t keep up. I remember the feeling on the first day of my return to this town, wondering just how different it all seemed again. It took me a few days to get back in the grind. Things never seem to wait. It all goes by so fast, and one is left wondering where all the day went. More than thirteen weeks later, it feels good to take a breather. What a ride that was.
Last week at our final office lunch, I was talking with a colleague – an elderly professor originally from Italy. How does he like it here? I ask. Oh no, I don’t much, he replied. If he hadn’t left his country after the World War when it was both fashionable and imperative to do so, he would still be living there, he said. “It’s the people, the culture, the food, the company. Most importantly, the relaxing ability of people to enjoy life.”
There is something about America that is both endearing and sometimes frustrating at the same time, I think. It is the system that makes working the centre of existence, and leisure something you never do unless you’re dead. On the one hand, it is endearing to see how much you can achieve if you work hard for it, on the other hand it is frustrating to see how hard it is to enjoy the fruits of your labour if you only spend all your time working. The delight is in the balance. I wonder if the country has a retirement age.
In any case, I’m glad for a break from school work that sometimes threatened my sanity. Without the occasional comfort of delightful classmates and a couple of courses that one really loves, it could have been harder. Now all I do is stay up in bed for as long as I want, and wake up whenever I want. Watch a movie, listen to music, and get back to just being lazy. Yesterday, I saw the eclipse of the moon. Christmas is in a couple of days and I don’t even know it. Back home, it would already have been a bustle of fun activities including Christmas fireworks and the dry smell of burning grass that characterizes the harmattan season. Oh well, one can’t have it all.
On the bright side, all the snow from the United States has now been shipped to Canada and Britain. There are a few more warm days ahead.