Miles from Monday is a travel series focused on venturing out of the spaces we inhabit during our work week and retreating to landscapes that feel far from routine.
December 31, 2012, Washington, DC: A cabin in the woods. A seat in the upper deck. A familiar chair in the window at Royal Ground Coffee. Neighborhood Nomads covered extensive ground in 2012 and from each vantage point, we saw the world from a new perspective. Read on for a list of my top ten travels of 2012, then go out and enjoy a happy and healthy 2013! May your New Year be full of the adventure of travel, the comforts of home, the power of place, and the joyful and curious spirit of nomads everywhere.
December 31, 2012, Washington, DC: This is Washington, DC this morning on the brink of a New Year. A barista a few blocks from the U.S. Capitol is being interviewed about the fiscal cliff by a foreign news team as he makes my latte. Headlines splashed across today’s papers hail the Redskins, last night’s winners of the NFC East. This is the year in which a seemingly bland David Petraeus was deemed scandalous in these circles and an ever feisty Marion Barry was reelected to DC’s city council.
Maybe we could have guessed it: that this year in our hometown would be both par for the course and downright unbelievable.
December 23, 2012, New York: At home in Washington, we buy a little tree that looks full-sized from the street below when we place it on the table in the window of our second floor apartment. We hang our stockings on the fireplace and carry the tree home from Eastern Market in early December so we’ll have time to enjoy it before heading out of town. We decorate with ornaments our moms have sent us — pinecone owls we made in elementary school, miniature mice and horses collected in our childhoods, meaningful additions gathered along the way. We top the Christmas tree with an ornament of the Capitol Dome that my dad picked up long before we moved to the neighborhood and made it our own.
“We need to be reminded of what it means to have a relationship with a place. To help us fall in love with our cities again, we need to see others who are in love with their communities. These people are a rare breed, and, I believe, critical to the overall love of their places.”
-Peter Kageyama, For The Love of Cities
December 18, 2012, Washington, DC: ‘Tis the season for year-end, wrap up stories. It’s time to reflect on what happened in 2012 and tie a bow around the year’s most notable markers.
To mark the occasion last year, I featured my top ten places of 2011 and reflected back on a year that revealed the power of place. This year I’ve chosen to focus on the people I interviewed throughout 2012 who have made these 365 days on Neighborhood Nomads a true joy. It’s the people, after all, who make these places all that they are.
Meet the 20 Nomads of 2012 and click on their names to read their stories…
December 15, 2012, Washington, DC: Booker Mitchell calls me shortly after he hops out of a cab on a busy Friday afternoon in New York City. He doesn’t always take a cab, but he had a lot to carry this afternoon leaving school. You see, Booker is not only a true city nomad and National Geographic Traveler‘s newly minted Traveler of the Year, he’s also a student in the 10th grade.
Incidentally, Booker is also a friend of my brother’s despite their age difference of more than 20 years, and that’s how I came to admire Booker’s work as both a traveler and a young journalist. I love watching his webisodes on Booker Travels as he skateboards and surfs throughout the world, and I relate completely to his mantra, “Live Life Outside.” In short, this insightful and worldy teenager exemplifies what it means to be a neighborhood nomad, and by the time he leaves school and begins the weekend, we have a lot to discuss.
December 11, 2012, Washington, DC: I don’t remember the exact moment we met, but I’m fairly certain it took Sarah Baker and I less than 10 seconds to become friends when she arrived in San Francisco. Despite our nearly one foot difference in height, we had a lot in common: a common dear friend; failed dreams of becoming a gymnast; a love for eating bagels while sitting on the sidewalk and watching the neighbors stroll by; and a tendency for everyone we know to call us by both our first and last names. Sarah Baker had moved to San Francisco after spending several months in Australia; I’d lived in Australia just a few years prior. She had a great enthusiasm for traveling and exploring the City By the Bay. She had a sister named Kate.
We soon shared an apartment too, which brought about a shared experience in cluttered living. The three of us who lived there had a lot of stuff, and many of Sarah Baker’s belongings happened to be purple and glittered. We decorated the refrigerator with alphabet magnets and hung an inflatable green alien in front of the window overlooking Polk Street above the washing machine.
Safe to say we’ve come a long way since. Today, Sarah Baker — dear friend, former roommate and loyal blog commenter — is featured here as an example in streamlined living.