In San Francisco, I was always rushing. Always. That had a lot to do with me and my personality, but it was definitely compounded by my environment. Always trying to do too much with too little, I was trying to squeeze as much out of the time I had as I could. It was unsustainable, and that is why I am here. I burned myself right out.
Much like the seasons in my last post, there is a rhythm and pattern to life here. I can hear it. We live in a small town, but there used to be a lot of industry, primarily shoe-making and so there are a lot of schools, and markets, etc. for all those folks who used to work here. Now the factories are gone, but the businesses still mostly exist, thankfully. During the week, it is bustling with people doing their errands. People do not seem to rush. They walk briskly, but when they run into someone they know, they stop and talk – for an extended time. Around 12:00 it gets louder and there is an increase in car traffic. After 12:30 it is silent and it stays that way until about 1:50, when car traffic gradually increases with people returning to work after their lunch break. It is like this every weekday. Saturday is similar but busier; there is a market in the square, so people come from neighboring towns for that.
Sunday was disquieting for us at first. The day starts out with a lot of energy, and our town fills up with folks going to church. At 10:30 people are called in with the church bells, and some of the town continues its preparations for the remainder of the day. When church lets out, you better have already been to the boulangerie, because everyone makes a bee-line from the church to the various shops that are still open to gather their items for the Sunday meal, and they will run out of bread. After 12:30 it is a ghost town. No one is making any noise – no one is outside doing anything. I’m not sure what they’re doing, but in the winter at least, they are not doing it outside. There is maybe one car rolling through every half hour. When there is a rugby game, there is one bar that opens afterward for those who have played and attended, but other than that it stays quiet until it starts all over again on Monday.
This is so entirely different from the SF Bay Area, where there is a constant stream of energy, no matter what the day or time. I think the only time there is not that level of activity is between the hours of 11:00 pm and 4:00 am. We couldn’t really believe there was nothing open on Sunday, so we went out one day to the larger towns, convinced that some sort of commercial activity was open. We went to the shopping mall – closed, not one car in the lot. So civilized!