September 14, 2011, Washington, DC: Perfect timing. I’m going camping today. For a few days, I’ll be a bit more unplugged, a little less aware of time and numbers. I’ll also be getting reacquainted with a place I used to live that I haven’t much mentioned: my little old tent.
At what point does a place count as somewhere you’ve lived? When I started this project, I wrote that if I’d lived somewhere for a few months or so, I’d try to return to that former hometown. By that standard, my tent counts. I haven’t paid rent and there’s no mailbox out front, but over time, the nights spent there have added up. At times I’ve settled into that tent as if it were home.
My tent has given me shelter in places like China Camp when I first arrived in out west, and in British Columbia’s Stein Valley, when I worked summers for an outdoor company. It’s traveled to California’s Point Reyes and Mt. Tamalpais as well as the French Alps and Virginia’s Shenandoah. It has put a roof over my head during massive hail storms on more than one occasion. It has become weathered and worn like an old house, then repaired with seam seal and duct tape. Like the other places I’ve lived, it’s one that holds stories. By many measures, or maybe any measure, it’s a place I’ve called home.