PLACES Far Away Home

How Clarice Lam finds comfort in taking naps on the train

Home for the holidays. Somewhere I haven’t been in over a decade. Although at this point after living in 13 cities, 9 countries, and 4 continents it’s hard to tell which witch is which. I have been in NYC for 6.5 years now and still it doesn’t feel like home.

The days of waking up to a huge Christmas tree in my parent’s house in Los Angeles and unwrapping presents have become nights of waking up to hot water running down my face after falling asleep in the shower for two hours in my small apartment in Brooklyn, and packaging the 8,197th marshmallow that I’ve made in the span of two weeks.

My friends that I see on rotation once a month have become my family and my bed who I never see has become my most cherished possession. Running a small business bakery in NYC is not easy especially during the holidays. My days start no later than 6am. I pack up the delivery van and drive to our holiday shop in Columbus circle. I restock the booth then grab my morning coffee. The next few hours will involve me doing more drop offs to our retailers or catering or buying ingredients or all of the above.

I then make my way over to the commercial kitchen lodged inside a warehouse where I spend  the next 8 hours or so doing production. After this I head back to the holiday shop to close it down at 9pm. My day is still not finished. There’s clean up, emails, more packaging, organising orders for the next day, more baking… by the time all is said and done I’ll be lucky if I get to sleep by 2am only to wake in four hours and start the whole day over again.

In these months I find comfort in things like taking naps on the F train.

The last two months of the year are brutal for me, especially during the time when you are supposed to be at home with your family relaxing and eating. In these months I find comfort in things like taking naps on the F train, getting my morning cappuccino and croissant, doing yoga inversions to help me stay focused, and baking and creating treats that remind me of my childhood.

And of course the most comforting thing is knowing that on the night of December 24th I’ll be able to crawl into my cozy marshmallow bed and sleep until I feel like getting up.

I am Clarice Lam, chef/owner of The Baking Bean NYC

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