I’m sure you’ve heard of the café culture in Europe, especially in France. The idea is that there are maybe a zillion and one cafés in the area, you pick one, and sit, and order a coffee or a meal. But mainly, you sit for a really long time. What makes this different, though, is that nobody is trying to kick you out. The waiters and waitresses just go about tending to other people and leave you to read your newspaper, do a crossword, smoke a cigarette, or just people-watch. It’s another reflection of how much slower the pace of life in France is. It seems like people are walk really quickly, but when they get to where they need to be, they take their sweet time. Literal sweet time: I saw this older woman eating a pastry and I just wanted to go over to her table and steal it.
I’m not quite used to this slower pace of life yet. In the states, it’s all about getting through the meal and then getting to the next destination. It’s a little better in Korea, but even there, people go to cafés to be seen, not so much to enjoy leisurely time.
So I was sitting at the café, anxiously trying to remember how to ask for the check (l’addition, s’il vous plait), and trying to figure out when I should get up, if I should order more, how much of a loner I looked like, how much I should tip, etc.- the opposite of cool. But I think with time, I’ll learn to appreciate just breathing for a second and savoring the moment.