I enjoyed Roger Cohen’s opinion piece about life in France in the NYT today. Here’s my comment on it:
Mr. Cohen, I know exactly what you mean. I lived in Spain for six years when I was in my 20s, way back when. In 1991, I decided to return to the U.S., finally fed up with some of the less-delightful aspects of Spanish life — the noise, the disorder, the inefficiency.
Fast forward 20 years to 2011. After two decades of professional success, serious consumption, and something verging on workaholism, I decided to move back to Madrid. A number of visits over the years I was living in the States showed me that there was more to love about Spain than I had remembered — the focus on family and friends (and the fact that the line between them is often blurred), the ease of connection with the people around you (bus driver, pharmacist, fishmonger, whoever), and the fact that people work to live rather than the other way around are chief among them.
I gave up a lot as a result of my return. I don’t own a car anymore, and I earn about one-third of what I used to. I travel less and stay closer to home. But I am happier than I have been in years, and I finally have the perspective to revel in the little joys of my day-to-day life.
Efficiency and productivity are to be valued, up to a point. When they cause us to lose sight of our common humanity, however, it’s time to re-evaluate them, and perhaps to make a change.
In the time I’ve been away from the blog, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about writing a memoir of my two bouts of expat life, and using this forum as a proving ground. (I’ve also been working and sewing and entertaining and going to PT for my blasted shoulder that makes me feel 1,000 years old on a regular basis — but we’ll talk about those things another time.)
So the question is, should I write it? Would you read it?