I’m just a few days away from my big departure on the Comfort Crash Course—my 15-day transatlantic journey from New York to Berlin via freighter ship during which I’ll be investigating the roots of human comfort.
The idea, of course, was to get as far from the city and all its comforts as possible while doing this. But now that the date is nearing, I’m getting a bit nervous.
As I walk around the city each day, I’ve been forcing myself to think: of all the things about the city, which is the one that offers me the most comfort?
The list of contenders is long. It ranges from cafes that serve gluten-free banana bread and corner stores that are open 24/7, to park benches, aboveground subway stops, and graffiti that talks about love. It includes bars and food carts, bike lanes and wide sidewalks, and things so basic I take them for granted, like indoor plumbing, cell phone reception, and abundant wireless Internet.
But the thing that has by far landed at the top of the list is human interaction.
To me there is nothing more exhilarating about a city than the people and interacting with them every day. Whether with my best friends, my colleagues, a traffic cop I only ever see once, or the woman at the grocery store who tells me when blueberries are back on sale because she knows how much I like them, having different interactions every single day makes me feel alive.
Now, it’s not like I’ll be completely alone on this journey. An average freighter ship these days is staffed by about 20 crew members, and there may also be other passengers. But the crew will be busy taking care of the ship, and the likelihood that some other civilian is crazy enough to think it would be fun to sail the North Atlantic in the dead of winter is probably pretty small.
So to help fill the gap, I want to hear from you.
Send me words of comfort!!
My colleagues back on land will be able to send me plain text e-mails through a special shipboard e-mail address, and they’ve promised me to pass on comforting quips from our followers.
Maybe it’s a poem, or a short story about a comforting encounter you had that day in the city. Maybe it’s a favorite quote, or simply a friendly little hello. I’ll take it all.
Send your words of comfort to firstname.lastname@example.org, and my colleagues will pass them on just when they think I need them the most.
Maybe I’ll even write back. It’s been a while since I’ve had a pen pal.