June 18, 2013, Washington, DC: Neighborhood Nomads turned two years old on Sunday! In true nomad fashion, we spent the big day on the move, returning home from a weekend road trip and thinking what a blurry and beautiful time this has been. Thank you for reading and conversing, and for celebrating the power of place here. It’s been such fun carving out this space to create. Two years in and this growing collection of observations about our homes and neighborhoods continues to become more interesting thanks to your contributions, and I’m confident year three in this virtual gathering place of ours will further entice us to travel our hometowns and appreciate the everyday.
A plan to travel my hometowns was how this whole thing started, after all. In the first year of the project, I returned to nearly all of them, recording my stories about traveling back home along the way. And yet my itinerary for the blog’s second year, at least geographically speaking, was far less ambitious. Here’s where I confess that in year two of Neighborhood Nomads I did not collect one stamp in my passport nor did I visit a single state to which I’d never been.
But I feel like I traveled constantly, and maybe that’s the point. We can slip into traveler mode daily, close to home and throughout the neighborhood. We can seek out new towns or parts of the city and observe their foreign rhythms. We can learn about new places all the time in speaking with people who love where they live. Nineteen thoughtful people have introduced me to the places they know best since last June and those interviews and walking tours with fellow neighborhood nomads remain my favorite part of the site. Please do read their stories and consider sharing your own. Tell us what it’s like to slow down and travel your hometown. Nomads everywhere would love to hear about it.
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June 14, 2013, Washington, DC: Maybe painters see their living space as a canvas and actors picture it as a stage. The writer in me views home as a massive editing project. If home is someplace ripe for self-expression, it’s also a constant work-in-progress.
“Better far off to leave half the ruins and nine-tenths of the churches unseen and to see well the rest; to see them not once but again and again; to watch them, to learn them, to live with them, to love them, til they have become a part of life and life’s recollections.”
June 12, 2013, Washington, DC: June is the time of year we start thinking of Greece. It’s the month when the heat rising off DC’s streets slows us down a notch and we start craving a more European lifestyle and white wine in the afternoon. We seek out cafes that remind us of Santorini – places like Zorba’s Café in Dupont Circle on four o’clock on a Saturday and Café Leopold stashed away in Cady’s Alley beneath a hectic Georgetown and the oh-so-Euro sidewalk café outside DC’s Willard Hotel. Though no longer students, we still instinctively let our guard down and move more slowly the moment school’s out. We become our summer selves, the version we’ve always liked best, ever since we were kids.
Fragers Hardware, Spring 2012
June 8, 2013, Washington, DC: It’s a scary sight to see a four-alarm fire breaking out four blocks away. To arrive back in the neighborhood just as dense black smoke begins to rise up ahead. To have the story unfold over the course of a single block — first as people stop in their tracks, one foot off the curb, and crane their necks towards the southeast sky; then as the shopkeeper in Labyrinth game store peers out the doorway with a telephone to her ear, hands the phone to a coworker and races up the street. It’s eerie to walk a few doors farther past Li’l Pub just as a man rushes out and says, “It’s Fragers.” It’s bizarre to realize that no less than a dozen fire trucks have torn by in the course of that surreal walk down the block, and to see the concerned look on the face of neighborhood councilman and mayoral candidate Tommy Wells as he zips by on his bicycle a few minutes later.
June 7, 2013, Washington, DC: This Friday afternoon rain is the very best kind. The kind that blurs and softens this place so it looks nothing like it did earlier this week when the sky was so blue it was severe against the hard marble buildings that slice into Washington’s skyline. Today’s rain is the kind you enjoy through cracked windows to allow that fresh smell of summer to seep into the apartment. The kind of rain that slows you down after an anxious week and keeps you indoors, for once not distracted by the river and parks and life of a city that won’t stop beckoning you back outside.
June 3, 2013, Washington, DC: West. It’s got a nice ring to it. Bigger than east and south and north, more dramatic and convincing than the whole lot of them put together. It’s been just a week since my last trip west, but that morning hike up Mt. Sanitas and a hot afternoon on the banks of the Boulder Reservoir are excursions I’d jump at this very moment if someone offered me another dose of west.
Is there enough west in your life? If you had your pick of mountains or ocean, which would it be? Could you trade the edges for a landlocked state like Colorado if a mountain trailhead was accessible just beyond the backyard? Are you your best out west or most at home back east?
Miles from Monday is a weekly travel series focused on venturing out of the spaces we inhabit during our work week and retreating to landscapes that feel far from routine.
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May 30, 2013, Washington, DC: Have you ever lived in a city or town that is no longer alive? Are there places you remember from childhood or somewhere along the way that have simply ceased to exist? Can a place die and fade away completely or will always experience rebirth, in some form?