Monday, October 24, 2016

Rolling up the sidewalks

We still get questions from friends who ask about the differences that we note between life in Lansing and life in Vaison la Romaine. We still get questions about how long it takes to readjust to one environment or the other. 

Since we have been living our schizophrenic lives for the last eight years, I usually explain that we now have a routine of how we handle the changes in location and life style. For the most part, once we have put the clothes away and returned things to where they belong, we are pretty much settled. 

Even though our life in France follows the beat of a different drummer than our life here, we have come to enjoy the differences in tempo and thus enjoy wherever we are. After so many years, it is rare that we encounter a situation that surprises us. Sometimes it takes a visitor to the US or a visitor to France to ask a question that surprises us and makes us think about the contrasts. For example, a French person asking about why we permit pharmaceutical companies to advertise on television (not permitted in France) or an American visiting France who asked what stores are open on Sunday afternoon (none!).

Friday evening however, I surprised myself in my incorrect assumptions about our life in Lansing. We had gone to a concert and invited other concert-goers to join us for a drink after the performance. We chose a restaurant in the heart of downtown Lansing and went to wait for our friends there. We walked through the door at 9:36 and the hostess announced that the kitchen had closed at 9:30. We had eaten before the concert so food was not the objective in going there but nonetheless...

  • If we had been in France - even in our little village - the dinner service would have continued until 11:00 PM. In Paris, people often arrive at restaurants after 9:00. (In Spain, it seems that the most popular dinner hour is 10:00.)

  • The waiter brought our bill shortly after 10:30. To me it was a clear suggestion that we drink up and leave.

To tell the truth, we may have picked the one restaurant in downtown Lansing that closed early. I just never expected that the well-known restaurant that we picked would operate on such a schedule. The restaurant across the street appeared to be open and seemed to have a lot of people in it. I know I am using broad strokes to paint this picture but really... I never expected the restaurant that we chose to have such a roll-up-the-sidewalks schedule. I had believed that Lansing was more cosmopolitan. 

PS: We drove through downtown Lansing again last night and confirmed that I had chosen the only restaurant to close early; every other food-beverage place seemed to be filled with customers. I guess my skill at picking restaurants matches my skill at choosing the slowest line when going through customs. I have a knack at picking the wrong one.