In the morning: why do we travel?

It is a pleasure to welcome you to the new Saturday edition of The Morning. I come from the Culture and Lifestyle Department of The Tim...


It is a pleasure to welcome you to the new Saturday edition of The Morning.

I come from the Culture and Lifestyle Department of The Times where, until recently, I wrote the newsletter At Home and Away, which was dedicated to helping readers lead full lives during the pandemic. I am delighted to bring you closer to the world of culture, to offer suggestions on how you might spend your time, and to contemplate all the wonders, oddities, and possibilities of the current moment.

Speaking of wonder and weirdness, I recently flew across the United States for the first time in two years. I was focused on my destination: to wake up somewhere else, a window with a new view, vacation and its promise of rest and rejuvenation. The flight itself was an uncomfortable but necessary interlude. I just had to endure it, I thought, to get to the good part.

But I was surprised to find that every dreaded step, from leaving home in the chill of dawn for a 7 a.m. flight to going through security (my mask was briefly lowered for security screening) identity), from negotiating top bin space to picking up the rental car, was, if not really fun, then interesting. There was so much to remember – it felt like I’d been watching the same show for two years and someone had just changed the channel.

I found myself recalling this unexpected energizing experience while reading my colleague Shane O’Neill’s report on Love Clouda Las Vegas company that allows you to charter a private plane for an hour or two in which you can enjoy various packages suitable for a romantic dinner, wedding or mission.

My coach-class aisle seat with limited reclining ability was a far cry from the satin sheets and heart-shaped pillows of Love Cloud’s private cabin. But my flight and Love Cloud’s deals reminded me of a fundamental premise of any long-planned vacation or Vegas attraction or shopping for a new brand of detergent: We are fueled by novelty. Too much similarity and the world turns gray.

You can orchestrate novelty on a grand scale, take a trip to a new place, do something you haven’t done. You can insert pieces of it into your daily life. A few friends and me once experimented for a month by making small daily changes – wearing two different socks one day, eating only green foods the next – just to see the effect. The new interventions themselves were not what made the experience rewarding. This is the alertness that the project awakened in us: we were on the lookout for things to notice, attentive to how our days might be different.

My vacation was beautiful, as restorative as I had hoped. Today, however, I am thinking of the San Francisco airport. I filled my water bottle at a multi-tap hydration station, watching my fellow travelers fill theirs, marveling at the variety of bottles, colors, and shapes. I also think about the late landing in New York, how I had forgotten that weird feeling of rushing through the airport to find ground transportation, eager to get home, how you pass travelers at other gates waiting to begin their journey.

Novelty does not have to announce itself. Little moments when you notice little things, new or forgotten sensations that prompt new or forgotten thoughts – you don’t have to travel very far or very high to feel them.

🎞 Relive the 90s: an era of baggy jeans and mindless poses, now on Instagram.

🐟 Peach: even in in the middle of Los Angeles.

What you get for $700,000: a Tudor Revival in Dallas; an 1896 Victorian in Portland, Oregon; or a cottage in Fairview, North Carolina

The hunt: For a one-bedroom apartment on Manhattan’s West Side, did they choose the courtyard co-op, the high-floor city-view apartment, or the street-side two-bedroom? Play our game.

Pandemic regrets: Recent buyers I wish they held up for more space or cheaper prices before running to buy in the frenetic housing market.

Short Track Speed ​​Skating: The Beijing Olympics have begun and one of the highlights of this weekend is a new event: the mixed team relay race in short track speed skating. The short track makes for a hectic race, with skaters often jostling and crashing. In the mixed relay, two men and two women will run for each team, giving each other hard knocks by swapping places. 8 a.m. ET today for the gold medal race; NBC will also air it during prime time. Here’s how to watch the rest of the Games.

For more:

Yesterday’s Spelling Bee pangrams were masked, dead end and dead end. Here’s today’s puzzle — or you can To play online.

Take the news quiz to see how closely you followed this week’s headlines.

If you’re in the mood to play more, here’s all our games.


Thank you for spending part of your weekend with The Times. — Melissa

Claire Moses, Ian Prasad Philbrick, Tom Wright-Piersanti, Ashley Wu and Sanam Yar contributed to The Morning. You can reach the team at themorning@nytimes.com.

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