There was something special about Europe. Whether it was random chance that people I met really cared…or that it was culturally a slower pace of life. Even in the big cities.
A lunch is long. Even on a workday. It’s not frantic—less than an hour lunch—whether in mid-conversation, we would be checking the time trying to cram a 30 minute discussion into 5 minutes.
Dinner is also long. Sleep? Sure, at some point. But it’s the time spent with people. Want to know how long the wait might be at a restaurant? Servers won’t know because it’s expected that diners will linger long after the meal and after-dinner drinks are complete. Turning tables quickly is not natural.
When I arrived in New York City, it was an immediate cultural shock. Explicit short conversations from point A to point B. No apologies when shoved aside. Lingering is for tourists. Meals with friends are tap tap I have to go see another friend in 30 minutes.
But there was something unsettling in Europe. Despite never feeling racism growing up, I suddenly felt out of place. I grew up in a town that was mostly full of affluent Caucasians. But in Europe I never felt so…different. I am highly educated, a young professional in a creative field, speaking fluent English. But people who looked like me were found behind the counter at convenience stores.
So I returned to California and thought: this is it.