Welcome. The newsletter you’re reading began life as “At Home” in the spring of 2020, with the goal of helping Times readers lead full and cultured lives amid the coronavirus pandemic. In the spring of 2021, optimistic about the ways the vaccine was permitting us to leave our nests, we renamed the newsletter “At Home and Away.” Our lives were opening up, we weren’t always in our houses anymore, but we were still figuring out how to live well while staying safe.
When I began writing the newsletter, I hoped to be of help. I hoped to provide good advice for how to deal and how to pass the time. I was not prepared for the conversation that ensued, for the piles of email full of recommendations and commiseration, ideas and arguments and poems and photographs. What started as an effort to provide service has become a warm and generous community. If you’ll permit a sentimental metaphor, what started as a house has become, for me and I hope for you, a home.
Nearly two years on, we’re a pod of hundreds of thousands who’ve swapped book and streaming recommendations. We’ve shared strategies for coping and things we miss, our New Year’s resolutions and our cures for loneliness. We made a log book, a soundscape, a museum of smells and four truly terrific playlists. We divulged our hopes and dreams and hugs.
“At Home and Away” was devised to help navigate a world that was transformed overnight. The world, of course, is not finished transforming. We’re still living with the pandemic, and it’s becoming clear that we’re not going to one day magically be done with it. As much as we may wish things would go back to “normal,” this — this negotiating and adjusting and dealing with lives affected in nearly every way by the virus — is just life now. And as uncomfortable as it may at times be, we’re getting used to it, we’re figuring it out.
This is the last At Home and Away newsletter you will receive. But I’m not pulling up stakes and leaving town. I’m moving over to The Morning, The Times’s daily newsletter, where, Monday through Friday, my colleague David Leonhardt reports on and analyzes the news of the day. I’m taking my observations and suggestions and musings on elks to a new Saturday edition of The Morning, which will launch on Feb. 5.
If you’re already receiving The Morning during the week, I’ll be in your inbox early on Feb. 5. If you aren’t subscribed, I’d love it if you’d sign up at the link below.
I’ve loved every minute of being At Home and Away with you. Thanks for letting me visit with you these past couple of years. You can still write to me (and I hope you will) and I’ll still read every letter sent.
Ping-Pong balls should weigh .095 ounces. The shoulder height of the common wombat is 24 to 28 inches. I learned these factoids from Dimensions, “a comprehensive reference database of dimensioned drawings and models documenting the standard measurements and sizes of the everyday objects and spaces that make up our world.” Check it out.
“In a sense, all you really need to know about Arthur Miller is that he was 13 in 1929, that the Depression hit his Brooklyn family smack in the face.” From Jennifer Allen’s profile of Miller in New York Magazine from 1983.
Here’s David Byrne and the Brooklyn Youth Chorus performing Byrne and Brian Eno’s “One Fine Day” in 2019.
More ideas for leading a full and cultured life, wherever you are, appear below. Take good care.