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.
“My space reflects the life I’ve lived so far, and it’s filled with stuff that has been with me for years, stuff that reminds me of where I’ve traveled, who I’ve loved, and where I want to go next.” -Nate Berkus
February 23, 2013, Washington, DC: Our home reminds me of travel, partly due to the things we’ve brought with us but also due to its bones, its structure and its details. I see New Orleans in the back alley from a narrow, second-story balcony abutting the next and feel cross breezes coming off San Francisco Bay through the high windows that swing open above the apartment’s inner door frames. Its imperfect hardwood floors and outdated stove and big old window that needs a book wedged in to stay open in spring are fit for a beach cottage. Walking out the front door to pick up cheese or yogurt or meat around the corner at Eastern Market is a routine that feels a bit Parisian.
January 7, 2013, Washington, DC: Country music played on the radio and the clean white lines of the Memorial Bridge stretched over the Potomac River at low tide as I snaked alongside it Saturday morning and wound my way up Rock Creek Park. I was on my way to say goodbye to a friend moving to New York City, where a fresh start in a new city would await. Something about those moments of transition, whether mine or someone else’s, make me nostalgic and appreciative and sharpen my senses all at once. The city looked truly alive that morning — bright and happy and healthy. It looked and felt well, better than ever, and the feeling was magnified given that I felt well too. After spending several days buried under the deep fog of flu, I was finally ready to emerge and embrace the New Year.
Early January is a natural time to take stock of our wellness. With a fresh beginning upon us, we are full of resolve to be well and happy and healthy in the days ahead. For me, that includes taking note of how our homes, neighborhoods and cities impact on our own well-being. Does where you live make you feel good? Do your surroundings provide you with what you need to feel mentally, physically and emotionally well? Do you fill your home with elements that make you feel healthy and happy and dispose of those that ail you? Do you seek out places that facilitate a healthy lifestyle? And have you ever packed your bags certain the remedy was someplace else?
January 5, 2013, Washington, DC: Husband and I received an amazing present this Christmas in Connecticut: a retro Crosley record player. We joyfully snapped it up like an old-fashioned suitcase and carried it back home to Washington on the train. Before we left my parent’s house, though, we ventured downstairs into the basement and sifted through boxes upon boxes of old records. They’re planning to ship dozens of their albums to our apartment as part of the gift.
Until I saw all those old albums covers, I’d forgotten what a potent role music had once played in my home. Continue reading
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.
Photo Credit: Sarah Baker
This is one in a series of interviews about our neighborhoods and the people who love them. Would you like to participate? Click here for more information about contributing to Neighborhood Nomads.
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.
“As we live and as we are, Simplicity – with a capital “S” – is difficult to comprehend nowadays. We are no longer truly simple. We no longer live in simple terms or places. Life is a more complex struggle now. It is now valiant to be simple: a courageous thing to even want to be simple. It is a spiritual thing to comprehend what simplicity means.”
-Frank Lloyd Wright
November 28, 2012, Washington, DC: I paid my first visit to a Frank Lloyd Wright house on Saturday. We just so happened to drive by the Robie House on Chicago’s South Side on a cold afternoon with time to spare. It probably won’t surprise you that I wandered inside and signed up for a tour.
What we’d signed up for, actually, was a perfectly timed reminder about simplicity on the advent of a season that quickly overflows with clutter.