Yesterday I went up to San Francisco to catch the tail end of the Birth of Impressionism exhibit at the new and improved De Young museum. It was a great exhibit, though very crowded, and even better, it gave me an excuse to spend a rare clear, warm day in Golden Gate Park with one of my favorite people.

It’s still such a novelty to be able to actually do things on a whim with the people I love, to be able to call up friends or family and say, “Hey, wanna get together?” Of course that is wreaking havoc on what little work ethic I have left after the past six months of traveling and moving, but that is entirely beside the point. I can work when I’m dead. Or not.

On the way home, however, I was struck once again by the American culture of the car. We left San Francisco at 4 PM, just at the start of traffic, but once we hit the carpool lanes, it wasn’t too bad. As we raced by at the incredible pace of 50 miles an hour, hundreds and hundreds of single-passenger cars crawled next to us, making their slow way home through the winding warren that is San Jose during rush hour. I marveled as they stretched on and on for miles, knowing that most of these people do this same thing every day of their lives, morning and night, five days a week, all year long.

I realize that there is traffic in all of the places we went to this year, Lisbon and London especially. Since I didn’t drive though, I was much less exposed to it, even while living in a crowded capital city. So last night, I looked at all this traffic with new eyes, and was painfully aware that every single one of those people not in the carpool lane could have been driving with someone else, or taking the bus, if there were such a thing. (We didn’t see a single bus on the freeway, mind you. Not one.)

This reaction told me that I’m not accustomed to being back yet. That and the fact that I keep writing the date backwards, i.e. 1/9/10, which I wrote on my to do list this morning. Whoops.

You can take the girl out of Europe, apparently, but you can’t take Europe out of the girl just yet.