The Morning: Why we travel

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

I come to you from the department of Culture and Lifestyle at The Times where, until recently, I wrote the At Home and Away newsletter, which was devoted to helping readers lead full lives during the pandemic. I’m excited to bring you closer to the world of culture, to offer suggestions for how you might spend your time and to contemplate all the wonder and strangeness and possibility of the current moment.

Speaking of wonder and strangeness, I traveled across the U.S. by plane recently, for the first time in two years. I was focused on my destination: waking up someplace else, a window with a new view, vacation and its promise of rest and renewal. 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 each dreaded step, from leaving home in the predawn cold for a 7 a.m. flight to passing through security (my mask pulled down briefly for the ID check), from negotiating overhead bin space to picking up the rental car, was, if not exactly fun, then interesting. There was so much to take in — I felt as if I’d been watching the same show for two years and someone just changed the channel.

I found myself recalling that unexpectedly energizing experience while reading my colleague Shane O’Neill’s report on Love Cloud, a Las Vegas company that allows you to charter a private plane for an hour or two in which you can avail yourself of various packages tailored to a romantic dinner, a wedding or an assignation.

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

You can orchestrate novelty on a grand scale, take a trip to someplace new, do something you haven’t done. You can insert bits of it into your everyday. Some friends and I once experimented for a month with making small daily changes — wearing two different socks one day, eating only green foods the next — just to see the effect. The novel interventions themselves weren’t what made the experiment rewarding. It was the vigilance the project awakened in us: We were looking for things to notice, alert to the ways in which our days might be different.

My vacation was lovely, as restorative as I’d hoped. Today, though, I’m thinking about the San Francisco airport. I filled my water bottle at a hydration station with multiple spigots, watching my fellow passengers filling theirs, marveling at the variety of bottles, the colors and shapes. I’m also thinking about landing late in New York, about how I’d forgotten that strange feeling of rushing through the airport to find ground transportation, eager to get home, about how you pass travelers at other gates waiting to begin their trips.

Novelty doesn’t have to announce itself. Small moments of noticing small things, new or forgotten sensations that provoke new or forgotten thoughts — you don’t have to travel very far or very high to experience them.

🎞 Reliving the ’90s: an era of baggy jeans and unselfconscious poses, now on Instagram.

🐟 Fishing: even in the middle of Los Angeles.

What you get for $700,000: a Tudor Revival in Dallas; an 1896 Victorian in Portland, Ore.; or a cottage in Fairview, N.C.

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

Pandemic regrets: Recent buyers wish they’d held out for more space or cheaper prices before racing to buy in the frenzied housing market.

Short-track speedskating: The Beijing Olympics have begun, and one of this weekend’s highlights is a new event: the mixed team relay race in short-track speedskating. The short track makes for a hectic race, with skaters jostling and often crashing. In the mixed relay, two men and two women will race for each team, giving one another hard shoves as they trade places. 8 a.m. Eastern today for the gold medal race; NBC will also broadcast it in prime time. Here’s how to watch the rest of the Games.

For more:

The pangrams from yesterday’s Spelling Bee were cloaked, deadlock and deadlocked. Here is today’s puzzle — or you can play online.

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

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


Thanks 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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