It has now been two weeks now since we came back to the US and I am still adjusting. There are many differences but getting away for a while also lets you see things you dont usually see when you get back. For one everything is so large here. Food is an easy place to start — I am not talking about jumbo drinks in movie theaters or fast food — its everywhere, meals here, food here seems larger than life. From muffins to croissants, to venti's to basic portions served at restaurants. It seems that portions of pretty much everything have grown substantially in the past 20 years. I didnt appreciate this before coming back here, I didnt see it, or the movie.
Another observation is in reference to the landscape, the architectural landscape. There is a temporariness to so much of the architecture and the buildings here on the east coast of the US. This isnt only in Manhattan — all over the east coast. It gives one the impression that everything can be changed, it makes the landscape seem more dynamic and in flux. In Italy so much of the landscape feels permanent — yes, there are stretches in Italy where urban or suburban sprawl looks and feels no different to the US but so much of it is old, so very old and the oldness of it, the fact that people have worked, touched, walked and groomed it for hundreds if not thousands of years is evident even in the smallest of things.
An example. Back in Italy there was a drain that ran down the side of our house. Someone a long time a go, likely a long long time ago, had placed a handful of stones underneath where the drain ran off into the soil. A handful of rocks placed under a persistent drip to stop a whole from forming in the ground. These stones looked like they had been literally melted by the drip, drip of the drain. There were countless examples like this, little instances of man's interaction with the landscape marking time. At some level I wonder whether this relationship to time cuts both ways — yes its something that grounds one in a space and gives a space depth of experience, but I suspect its also a reason why change happens so fitfully in Europe. Back here in the US the newness of everything is a testament to constant change. So much is dispensable, and temporary giving the individual a clear sense of how he / she can effect space and change and effect the world.