"I recently found a photo of myself when I was around eight years old. I was in my hometown of Arkadelphia, Arkansas, wearing a blue oxford cloth shirt and a pair of gold aviator sunglasses, sitting next to my dad’s spotted dog, named—incredibly—Damn-it, and eating peanut brittle. My new Huffy bike was in the background. I look really, really happy. Some thirty years later, what makes me happy is exactly the same. The blue oxford cloth has been upgraded from JCPenney to Thom Browne. (I swear the fit is the same, but the striped grosgrain placket and extra long shirt-tail looks good untucked and stays tucked in when you need it to.) I have at least four pairs of over-sized Ray Ban aviators. For summer I like the blue polarized lenses. I am not sure what they do exactly, but they look cool. And, just like my dad, I have a firm belief that dogs should be rescued and not purchased. (Or, worse, designed in a laboratory. Puggles, Labradoodles, Bullmatians…a Gerberian Shepsky?!!?) My 11-year-old Pit Bull mix Jacks came from the city pound in Dallas. But her collar and lead come from London, via Mungo and Maud. And I still love the thin, crispy, brittle made from Juanita’s Candy Kitchen in my hometown. But these days I love their pecan version. (It’s a good gift to bring along when I invite myself to friend’s weekend homes.) And I still love riding a bike. I ride a CitiBike to work every morning, which makes me feel both smugly superior to people in Ubers—and like an eight-year-old kid in Arkansas. Since moving to New York (and joining the ranks at Departures) I’ve made a few other upgrades. I wear a bitter orange and something-I-can’t-quite-describe fragrance, Frederic Malle’s Bigarade Concentree, created by Hermès's exclusive in-house perfumer, Jean-Claude Ellena. This may be downgrading, tech-wise, but I recently learned that I get more done if I unplug from my two laptops, two iPhones, my Apple Watch, and Matt, Savannah, and Al in the morning and sit down with my paper calendar and make a to-do list. I mark it off throughout the day with my favorite pens. I’ve become a stubborn old man about office supplies and only use PaperMate Flair felt tip pens, which I’ve used since I was a newspaper reporter. (Felt tip writes better when you’re standing up, as newspaper reporters often are.) And here in the offices of Departures, some luxuries come free. I gave up cans of Budweiser when I left Arkansas and I gave up soda this year. But I still love the sound of an aluminum can cracking open. There are 12-oz. cans of Schweppes Original Sparkling Seltzer water in the fridge of employee canteen. Free goes fast around here. So the first thing marked off on my to-do list is to stash a few cans for the day."
Thom Browne oxford shirt, $370; mrporter.com.
Mungo and Maud collar and lead, $152; mungoandmaud.com.
Ray-Ban sunglasses, $200; ray-ban.com.
Frederic Malle Bigarade Concentree fragrance, from $135; fredericmalle.com.
Juanita's Candy Kitchen pecan brittal, $16; juanitascandykitchen.com.
PaperMate pens, $16; staples.com.