Returning after nearly a month always leads to thoughts on things you take for granted when you’re home.
The first is that no matter how comfortable a hotel bed, no matter how well a maid prepares it, and no matter how jet lag keeps you up at night, no rest matches sleeping in your own bed.
While I’ve always preferred sleeping in my bed, my past year was my first to find the same comfort in eating food from my kitchen. I owe this new preference to my new practice of cooking from scratch so much more. Most of my life, most of my food at home was pre-packaged, meaning less flavorful or healthy. In yesterday’s case, my farm delivery arrived a day before I did (one of the benefits of living in a doorman building) so I had fresh vegetables and I’m not yet bored with my pressure-cooker-cooked stews, if I ever will be. So I cooked a stew of lentils, carrots, beets, onion, garlic, cabbage, celiriac, olive oil, cayenne pepper, salt, and maybe a few other ingredients. It took a few minutes to wash and chop the vegetables and maybe fifteen minutes to cook. Delicious, nutritious, and expeditious!
All my thoughts on returning weren’t about comfort. For one thing, I burned my tongue again on the stew because it smells so good and I can’t wait to taste it.
The other main thing that hits me nearly every time I return is America’s deteriorating infrastructure. I love New York City, but JFK airport, compared to those of other world capitals, is close to a national disgrace. The subway here serves a lot of people, but compared to other world capitals’ subways, it’s decrepit, loud, slow, and ridden with unexpected delays. JFK combined with the subway are a double gut-punch to this nation’s first impression to many visitors, many of whom took convenient, affordable, prompt transportation to a clean, well-maintained airport with helpful staff, which they probably didn’t find at JFK or traveling from it. And I live near an A train stop, making my ride home easier than most.
Driving in from the airport often means more delays, cost, and discomfort. Similar problems plague our schools, bridges, Amtrak, and so on. Our political system rewards politicians running on wedge issues, but an effective leader would serve the people and their safety well, in my opinion, by prioritizing fixing the country’s decaying infrastructure. We’d all benefit from it.
Those were my main thoughts on returning.
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