I wanted England, where my family and I went in May on a long-obsessed-over trip, to overwhelm me with its Britishness.
And it did, it totally did. We’re not exactly world travelers over here. There was a thrilling amount of novelty in BBC-style accents and a pocket full of foreign coins. Each strange new thing filled me with a giddy joy. Picture me exulting in the Tesco supermarket over little plastic cups of trifle and cookies called “Jammie Dodgers.” Oh, Brits, how I love you.
Then, almost subconsciously, the four of us started to establish familiar rhythms in the midst of crazy London. Learning the ropes, as it were. There were still new sites to goggle at, but only after we’d swiped our Oyster cards on the double-decker bus like old pros. Only after we’d successfully navigated from our rental flat to the bus stop like we actually knew where we were in physical space.
It was a weird reminder that in a new place, mastery and familiarity create a sense of home quicker than discovery does. Our minds crave the temporary upending of the status quo (something I explain in my TEDx talk). But we also want a sense of control. Sometimes all that requires is shopping the same Tesco four days in a row and buying the same cups of trifle every time.
Shameless self-promotion portion of the newsletter
I wrote a story for Woman’s Day about small-town heroes like Dustie Gregson, whose restaurant in Asheboro, North Carolina, killed me with croissants. I was interviewed by the very kind Andrew Phillips for LinkedIn. This is Where You Belong was discussed on the Illiterate podcast. Want me to be on your podcast/website/stage? Hit me up.
7 items of interest
1. Good news: Small towns are cheap enough that you can do what you want there. (P.S.—My friend Mickey Howley, who’s quoted in this story, sent me this glorious cookbook straight from Water Valley, Mississippi. I still need to visit.
2. “Same Hill, Different Day”—such a wistful photography project about places changing over time.
3. Millennials aren’t actually staying in superstar cities anymore.
4. “Sometimes when I get off the train I feel like a salmon leaping up the last waterfall, knowing innately I’ve arrived.” On how the geography of childhood stays with you.
5. Funny, these tips on helping kids thrive living in a city (dine at every walkable restaurant, start a little free library) happen to double as stellar Love Where You Live experiments.
6. “The story of who leaves a place is just as important as the story of who stays.” Could you move back to your hometown? Would you want to anyway?
7. A solution for when geography separates you from old friends.
P.S.—If you subscribed to my newsletter, you’d be getting links to, like, xylophones made out of Hot Wheels here. So subscribe!