I never really understood friends who stayed in and cooked all the time. I also felt condescending sympathy (the kind only a 22-year-old can feel) for women who traveled abroad, fell in love and then eventually moved back home. I couldn’t imagine when boarding a plane and waking up in an unfamiliar place could possibly trump staying in one place.
I found that exact moment: it’s when the smell of recycled plane air becomes so nauseatingly familiar that the last thing you want to do with vacation time is hand your ticket to a stewardess and bid adieu to fresh air for 14 hours to arrive hallucinating, but just awake enough to realize that your only bag with clean underwear actually boarded the connecting flight to Cote d’Ivoire.
Four years later, with half-destroyed suitcases tucked quietly under my bed, I would much rather stay in on most nights to squint at flour-dusted cookbooks, admire the fleshy redness of a tomato, and clumsily drop eggplant slices into crackling oil, all to the sound of Jacques Pépin on YouTube telling me how his fresh pesto is just Heaven.
It’s probably a mix of cold weather plus the nesting bug, a term Mom uses with restrained delight since I left a travel-heavy job that culminated with voicemails like, “I’m flying home tomorrow and can’t tell you the flight number because this phone is tapped, and I don’t want to get arrested at immigration.” But I just spent an entire Saturday reading about why lean meat would be a mistake for slow-cooked stews and why chocolate, in spite of its heaviness, rises just as effortlessly as other ingredients in a properly-orchestrated soufflé. And I lurrrrved every minute.