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Finding Solace at Restaurants’ Chummy Bars

In his book The Hidden Dimension, anthropologist Edward T. Hall defined the concept of proxemics—the cultural relevance of the spatial distances that individuals maintain. It helped me understand what felt so alienating about the United States when I moved here from Europe: I have a different sense of personal space. If I sit next to you on a sofa, I am practically in your lap. The rectangular two-tops in restaurants that put me at arm’s length from the person I’m dining with feel excruciating. I much prefer to eat at the bar, which fulfills my need for intimacy.

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