Saturday, June 22, 2013

Maybe away from Budapest...

Now that I'm back in California I've enjoyed catching up with old friends and traveling around my home state a bit.  Today I've been wandering around San Francisco and writing in a downtown cafe. 

I'm still working on my memoir of the life of a struggling writer.  I'm nearing the end of the current draft and have come to the part about my life in Budapest over the past few years.  I can't help but be reminded of a Hemingway quote from his own memoir, A Moveable Feast.  As he said, “Maybe away from Paris I could write about Paris, as in Paris I could write about Michigan.” I can definitely see his point.  Somehow it is easier to gain perspective on a place when it is not right in front of you.  Being away from it makes it easier to sort out your feelings about a place.

After eight months away, I am also undergoing a bit of reverse-culture shock, though not in a bad way.  One thing that stands out is how relatively friendly everyone is here in the U.S.  In Europe in general, and Eastern Europe especially, people tend to be very reserved in public.  They keep to themselves.  In the U.S., total strangers routinely strike up conversations with each other.  I've seen it before in foreign airports, where all the Americans in line to check in end up chatting away while the foreigners are stone silent.  Today I saw it on a crowded subway car, where numerous people who didn't know each other were discussing the city, and the weather, and where they were from (including the guy beside me).

I would admit, sometimes I just want to be left alone, but in general I think this sociability is a great thing.  Why shouldn't we all be friendly with one another?  Why should we have to feel so guarded?  I suppose that to Americans, life is just one big party, and that's probably not such a bad way to be...


  1. I must admit that San Fransisco is somewhere I'd really love to visit someday. I agree with you about some cultures being more openly friendly than others. Scotland too is a very friendly chatty place and I really like that about it.

    Janice xx

  2. Hey, you've just given me another good reason to come check out Scotland some time! As long as I can understand those accents when people chat with me... Hopefully you'll make it to San Fran sometime, too. It is certainly worth a visit!