By Eva Holland
Jim Manzi is living in Paris, where a recent Buffett concert has him reflecting on the expat experience:
One of the many great things about living here is the fun of having typically American experiences completely out-of-context. The annual late-September Buffett concert in Paris has become, like the seven-a-sides in Hong Kong, a ritual gathering point for expats for thousands of miles around. This created a hilarious Anglophone bubble in the middle of Paris. About the only French I heard came from Jimmy at the mic (who, having lived here years ago, still seems to have pretty passable French).
A surprising number of his songs reference the city. In fact, he closed the concert with a great acoustic version of He Went to Paris, which is a song that Bob Dylan cited as one of his favorite tunes by one of his favorite songwriters. Though not many of us here are living a Lost Generation literary life, it still felt very bonding.
I can relate. One of my favorite weekends, during the year I lived in England, was spent preparing a makeshift Thanksgiving dinner and tossing a football around the backyard with other North American students—funny, since pigskin and pumpkin pie are no part of my life at home, however “typical” they are supposed to be. As Manzi points out, context is everything when you’re living abroad.