Welcome. Friday again, weekday drifting into weekend, the final thread of the year unspooling. The Styles desk took a look at the things that came out on top in 2020 — like rescue animals, adopted in massive numbers by affection-starved Americans newly stuck at home, and rotten bananas, once compost-bound but now the raw material for endless loaves of banana bread. It’s a compelling way to frame the year.
This examination of what happened when New York City closed 83 miles of roadways to cars is well worth your time, too. People dined, danced, picnicked and played, cycled and strolled on streets suddenly reminiscent of European boulevards.
And the reporter Kashmir Hill’s account of accidentally spending $200,000 (in Bitcoin) on a sushi dinner in 2013 is delightful. If you’ve ever bemoaned the baseball card you gave away that later became a collector’s item, or any other transaction that in hindsight left you with the short end of the stick, this story will offer you a bit of comfort.
We talked about comfort earlier in the week, specifically the connection between anticipation and happiness: how having something to look forward to, even something as small as an imminent snowfall, has the power to lift your mood. I asked you about the tiny things in the offing that you were anticipating with joy. Here’s what you said.
“I am eagerly anticipating the look on my grandparent’s faces when they hear my daughters sing carols outside their assisted living home.”
“I just booked a three-night May getaway to a California state park. After I hit the COMPLETE PURCHASE button, I felt a strange and wonderful twinge of momentary ‘normal-ness’ and a reflexive — dare I even utter the word — SMILE broke out. Anticipation is really good.”
“I’m looking forward to my first attempt at a zucchini-crust pizza. And in memory of John le Carré, I’m rereading (for the fourth time, I think) ‘Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.’ Nothing like the Cold War for the cold weather.”
“I look forward to the day when concert halls are allowed to reopen and I get to listen to the Berlin Philharmonic again, live. Preferably a Mahler.”
Me, I’m looking forward to spending a few hours lost in “The City in Slang,” by Irving Lewis Allen, this weekend. Allen’s book is a fascinating cultural and linguistic history of New York City, from which I learned that the English writer Ford Madox Ford disliked the word “skyscraper” and thought “cloud-house” would be a better designation for a tall building.
Laura Marling’s recent album “Song for Our Daughter” is wonderful and cozy. I accidentally left open a tab playing “The Sound of Rain, falling on tropical leaves” while listening to the Marling and found the combination enchanting. Try it.
And here’s a riveting read by Nicholas Thompson, from Wired: “A Nameless Hiker and the Case the Internet Can’t Crack.”
A bit of housekeeping: Due to a Gmail outage that caused a large number of emails to go undelivered, you may not have received the At Home newsletter earlier this week. We apologize for the inconvenience. You can read any editions that you didn’t receive here. As always, more ideas for leading a full life at home this weekend appear below. See you next week.