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Friday, July 29, 2005

More thoughts on the American trade off

While musing about yesterday's topic, I realize that most of my truly life long friends (like Scarlet), are the ones who:
  1. Write back when you send them e-mail
  2. I've taken vacations with
Note that Scarlet & I don't get along on holiday, but that's besides the point. The shortage of vacation in America means that vacation time is precious and is to be spent only with family. The idea of taking 2 or 3 weeks with friends exploring a foreign country, even amongst the affluent, is something almost unheard of for anyone not in their 20s.

It also partly explains why Europeans feel that Americans treat their relationships as superficial. If you haven't really experienced things together as friends, you're not really great friends, no matter how much you pretend like you are when you see each other.


Scarlet said...

Since coming back from maternity leave, I have gone down to 60% at work, and I have no regrets about the drop in salary. Other women that I know in similar situations don't regret it either. Perhaps it's a gender thing? I can't think of any men who have chosen to go PT after the birth of their child. I think women are more willing (perhaps because it's more socially acceptable) to make choices in favor of family, or in favor of a work/family balance.

As for people not spending vacations with friends, I do think it's that money/time tradeoff that we've been discussing for years. In your 20s, you've got lots of time and no money. Later in life, you've got more money for travel, but no time.

I think we'd get along better on vacations if we made all the itinerary and chore decisions beforehand. We got along great that first trip we took together, or else there wouldn't have been any later trips. :)

Piaw Na said...

I know of at least one guy who retired after having (one) kid. I suspect that for guys, it might be an all or nothing thing, which is entirely in character as far as guys are concerned. :-)

I think that the money/time trade off is something that happens because of the American policy that says that 2 weeks of vacation time a year is all anybody ever needs.

Hm... I don't remember discussing much of the itinerary and chore decisions ahead of time on our first trip. I still remember you saying that you were distracted by other stuff... :-)

I suspect that the only way we'd agree on where to go on vacation together is if Lisa twisted my arm and made me do a "cultural" bike tour instead of letting me indulge my penchant for just doing "the good parts." Where "good" is defined by amount of climbing.

Amy said...

This is a good point. I have had good friends who didn't write back, and no matter how well we got along, if we don't have dialogue at least somewhat regularly. I don't think I have to go on vacation with someone, necessarily, since there are plenty of little day-to-day experiences (even working on class projects together) in which I've really bonded with people.

As to the bigger point about vacations and who you spend your time with... as someone who isn't really looking for a marriage-type situation, what I really want when I get older is just a big community of friends. Mostly what I observe in middle-aged people is that they pretty much only see their spouses, and I really can't imagine one person ever being all things to me (or worse, trying to be all things to another person). I'm sure you could throw plenty of psychoanalysis at this (like how I'm not that close to my family, got dumped by a guy I was engaged to...), and maybe it wouldn't even be too far off....

All the same, I'd like to find more people like me who want to go on 'group/friend' adventures, rather than do 'couple' activities.