When my youngest daughter began working on a master’s degree at Oxford University last fall, she became the seventh generation of women in my family to live for an extended period in England. So my husband and I will take a long weekend in June and make a pilgrimage of sorts, back to my mother’s homeland, the country where I lived for years as a foreign correspondent, a place so rooted in our family consciousness that we named our dogs after Jane Austen characters.
But having raised three children to adulthood, I also recognize that each of them has had a way of shaping a familiar landscape into her own new vista. My daughter’s England — decorated by Oxford’s famous spires, populated by centuries-old academic traditions and cosmopolitan peers — is far removed from the peripatetic life I led when I was based in London, and even farther from my mother’s wartime experience in Yorkshire.
Her England isn’t my England, and yet, I also know that traces of our past will undoubtedly surface. I remember traveling with the family through Yorkshire nearly seven years ago and stopping at a local pub for something to eat. Suddenly I was slain by the voices coming from another table, the accent and cadence unmistakable. They sounded like my aunties!
I expect that this trip, like all my many visits to England, will take me in two directions, backward and forward, seeing a familiar place through the fresh eyes of my daughter while searching for the sounds and mementos of my past.
— Jane Eisner, Editor-in-Chief
I’m going home to Utah for my summer vacation after I moved to Jerusalem in August to be a foreign correspondent.
The state of cowboy boots, 1950s diners and 3.2% beer, has become cool since I left it, after high school. Three close friends, none of them Mormon, have decided to live their adult lives in Salt Lake City. One is getting married this summer, and I’m her maid of honor. I can’t wait to hike the craggy hills around Ogden, where I grew up, to get a malted at a Farr’s ice cream shop and to cruise Washington Boulevard in my parents’ car.
When I’m in Utah, friends and neighbors will ask me to regale them with stories of the exotic place where I now reside. What they don’t know is that to my new friends in Jerusalem, they’re the exotic ones.
In Israel, everyone I meet wants to know where I’m from. “Utah?” they ask. “It’s in the United States,” I say. “Near Colorado.” And if that fails: “Near California.”
There’s a reason that Israelis and Palestinians haven’t heard of Utah. In exchange for building the Brigham Young University Jerusalem Center, the Mormon Church agreed not to proselytize in Israel. So while Mormons missionaries can be found nearly everywhere, they are absent here. Still, I am reminded of Utah all the time. In downtown Jerusalem, I see Orthodox teens wearing revealing dresses over turtlenecks and stretch pants. They bring to mind my Mormon high school friends, who wore white T-shirts under strappy prom gowns for modesty’s sake. In the West Bank, the terraced hills covered in olive trees remind me of the red rock and scrub oak landscape in southern Utah.
There is something comforting about traveling through this environment as a foreigner. In Utah I was a Jew. In Israel and the Palestinian territories, I’m foremost an American.
— Naomi Zeveloff, Middle East Correspondent
When I was younger, I loved plane food because it was served in oddly shaped bowls on trays. There were triangular bowls that fit two slices of tomato and some lettuce. We never had triangular bowls at home.
I got over the excitement of eating from trays — thanks to university — and triangular bowls (not sure why), but I still like plane food. It might be because these days, I associate flying with going home, which in my case is Vienna.
During the eight-hour flight on Austrian Airlines (“Blue Danube Waltz” in the speakers, flight attendants in bright-red uniforms), I watch the cheesiest teenage movies I can find on the on-board flight entertainment program. I can fit up to three films if I plan them well.And then I work my way through the bowls on my tray. I usually eat everything even though I’m not hungry, and I silently judge my neighbors for not finishing their desserts. (“I mean, yeah, it doesn’t taste like chocolate at all, but seriously, have you got anything better to do?”) Because leaving no trace of salad in that triangular bowl will bring me home faster.
— Anna Goldenberg, Culture Fellow
Charleston, South Carolina
Come July, Cooper, a 5-month-old goldendoodle, will come with my husband and me on a road trip from Hoboken, New Jersey, down to Charleston, South Carolina, where we will be celebrating my father-in-law’s birthday. Coopie — as we lovingly call her, except when she’s Cooper the Pooper — will, for the first time, travel down the east coast on a great Southern adventure that will cover exactly 759 miles.
The journey started weeks ago, as we began test drives to get her used to sitting in the back of our car. With every drive we took over the past two months — first to doggie day care, then to get groceries, then to visit my parents in Queens — we have slowly moved Coopie from snugly sitting on my lap in the passenger seat, to reluctantly sitting on her own in the back, to gloriously stretching out her long poodle legs the full length of the back seat. Now she won’t share that space with anyone, not even me.
I can’t wait to roll down the window and see her furry face in the wind. And knowing Coopie, she will insist on peeing on a tree in each state we pass. And, no doubt, Cooper the Pooper will most certainly bark at all the horses, sniff out all the palmetto trees outside historic antebellum mansions and reign supreme as we drive her over the Cooper River into downtown Charleston.
— Maia Efrem, Research Editor
Governors Island, New York City
Brooklyn sucks in the summer. Here’s a nice escape:
Sleep in. Eat a bit of breakfast. Pump the tires on your bike; maybe throw some grease on the chain. Pack a novel, the Sunday Times, some water and, if you remember, a couple of sandwiches. Ride down to Brooklyn Bridge Park at the foot of Atlantic Avenue. Get on the line for the five-minute ferry ride to Governors Island. Make sure it’s the first ferry of the day; sometimes they don’t charge for that one, and it’s usually not so crowded. Stash your bike wherever they tell you to stash it, and take a seat. If you can’t help yourself, you can take a photo for Instagram as the boat backs out into the Buttermilk Channel. Try to help yourself.
Hurry off the boat at Governors Island. Get on your bike as soon as you’re off the dock. Seriously, don’t worry about the toddlers; they can get themselves out of the way. Speed to Hammock Grove. Find an open hammock. Sit in that open hammock. Sigh, take out your book and watch the sky for a peregrine falcon on the hunt.
If you get tired of sighing and reading, tour the abandoned fort, and the castle built with circular walls to deflect cannon fire from British ships that never arrived, and the empty buildings spread all over the island’s north end. If you forgot food, buy lunch from the Italian sandwich truck on King Avenue. If you need a toilet, there’s a nice one in the long building near the dock where the Manhattan ferries come in.
In the late afternoon, have friends come meet you for a beer at the thing that used to be called Water Taxi Beach. It’s not called Water Taxi Beach anymore, but the new name is even more lame, so don’t use it. You can express worry, if you like, about what will happen to Governors Island when they finish building all the nice public parts of the public-private partnership and start in on the private parts. You can remember Governors Island when you first came here — has it been 10 years already? — when it felt like a suburb where everyone had been raptured, and you could try the back doors of empty homes, and sometimes one would open and you would sneak in and wonder if this was really New York City, and whether whoever was insuring this place had ever made a site visit.
And then you can take out your iPhone and go to the section of the Governors Island Trust website titled “Governors Island Real Estate Development Opportunity” and scroll down to the part where they list “permitted uses,” and read: “Recreation and entertainment… Hospitality and retail… Commercial office and mixed use….” And over those beers at that place that used to be called Water Taxi Beach, you and your friends can spin nightmare visions of the Governors Island Megamall to come, and wonder how many feet tall the name “TRUMP” will be on the side of the Governors Island Trump International Hotel, and ask whether BuzzFeed will wrangle another tax break when they build their new Governors Island headquarters in 2019.
Later, take the ferry back to Brooklyn. The line might be a little long. While you wait, look back at Governors Island and wish you had the guts to pull off a “From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler” caper. Imagine hiding under a bench when the park closes, and watching the sunset over the Statue of Liberty, and spending the night under the stars on the old parade ground, and never leaving.
— Josh Nathan-Kazis, Staff Writer
Catskills, New York
I once dated a woman whose idea of a fabulous vacation consisted of riding the world’s tallest roller coaster over (and over AGAIN) at Six Flags Ohio. She projected an air of serenity seemingly at odds with the rush she sought careening on curlicue rails. I still want that peaceable persona she had. So, having “married up,” in terms of mindfulness, I’m following my beloved’s suggestion to vacation locally. We’ll sit in silent meditation for five days at the Dai Bosatsu Zendo, a Zen monastery and retreat center in the Catskills.
We’ll join our community of sitters in what is known traditionally as a sesshin: a series of daylong meditations beginning at dawn and ending after sunset. We will, if you can imagine, remain in silence through meals and into the night. The silence will be intervened upon only by dharma talks or, as I like to think of them, rabbis’ sermons.
Much of the structure of this retreat calls to this former Orthodox mind a long stretch of the Sabbath, only there’s no refraining from using electricity. The Jewish mystics taught us that the Sabbath offers a taste of the world to come. And isn’t that what we seek out on holiday — this sense of that imagined peacefulness in the here and now?
As for me, I will undoubtedly be fantasizing about lunch (breakfast and dinner, too, for that matter). But once in a while, if I’m mindful enough, maybe I will know a shtikl, a bit, of peace, which I’ll gladly share when the Sabbath is over.
— Chana Pollack, Archivist
Sag Harbor, New York
I’m not traveling far this summer, just a couple of hours eastward from New York City out to the porch of my family’s house in Sag Harbor. But once I battle for a seat on the Long Island Rail Road, check out an enviable stack of books from the local library (cookbooks that never see the kitchen), find the perfect peach, wrestle the dog for the best recliner, and listen to my mom and my boyfriend catalog every waft of cool air (“Now that was a good breeze!”), it will feel like I have traveled the world.
— Amanda Tobier, Digital Marketing Manager
For a while, I had been considering the idea of combining a family trip to Chicago with a brief excursion to Bloomington, Indiana, where we lived off and on for the better part of a decade. It seemed like a good excuse to complete some last-minute research for a novel (most of which could probably be done via Wikipedia and Google Maps) and to let the kids visit some of their favorite haunts — WonderLab, Griffy Lake, Harmony School, the Uptown Café, the farmers market (especially, the farmers market, known for paw paws, tamales, step-dancers and philandering professors).
The trip has hit a couple of snags, though. First, with the exception of two or three families, just about everyone we used to hang out with has already moved or is moving out of state. And then, there’s the matter of that new “religious freedom law,” which has people all over the country banning nonessential travel to Indiana. And, now I’m thinking that this trip might qualify as nonessential.
— Adam Langer, Culture Editor
Brooklyn, New York
— Lior Zaltzman, Digital Fellow
New York, New York
In my never-ending pursuit of youth (I’m proudly well into my sixth decade), I will be training to do my first 100 mile bike ride as part of the Hazon New York Ride on Labor Day weekend. Assuming my shoulder holds up, I’ll also play softball in Central Park with my synagogue’s team. Of course, summer is not summer without some sun worship, so I’ll spend at least a little time by the pool outside my apartment building.
— Craig Rosenberg, Assistant Controller