April 22, 2013, Washington, DC: Amby Burfoot was less than a mile from the finish line last Monday, ready to celebrate the 45th anniversary of his marathon win, when the bombs went off on Boylston Street. I heard him recount his story a few days later on NPR’s Fresh Air as I drove home up Independence Ave. and past the U.S. Capitol where flags flew at half staff to commemorate the victims of the Boston Marathon. When I got home, like so many others, I went for a run. Past the Capitol Police on the corner of Independence and 3rd, behind the Library of Congress and the Supreme Court, out East Capitol and around Lincoln Park. The usual route, spiked this time with an unusual sense of patriotism.
I ran a lot last week, in fact. Undoubtedly inspired by those who ran the marathon and those who cheered them on, undoubtedly motivated by the neighborhood 10K coming up next month. On Thursday, I ran my occasional six mile route home from work, through Dupont Circle into downtown and east along Pennsylvania Ave towards Capitol Hill. The pedestrian plaza in front of the White House, a highlight on the route, remained closed due to increased security, but the crowds of runners and visitors out that day detoured around it and carried on.
March 13, 2013, Washington, DC: I leave the Atlas Theater on H St. Sunday night thinking about cupcakes and sweet potato pie. The night is mild and a taxicab pulls up immediately to the theater’s well-lit doorstep to drive us from the north side of Capitol Hill to the south. On the way home, we talk about cupcakes and sweet potato pie and other heavier topics sparked by the evening’s Our City Film Festival.
January 8, 2013, Washington, DC: I snapped these photos this evening on my bike ride home. It was the first time I’d gotten out and exercised in awhile and I took my sweet time, pausing to balance my bike against a street lamp or curb while removing a glove and taking my camera phone out my coat pocket to capture the sunset. I live in a beautiful city. It’s easy to remember that while biking through the areas of town occupied predominately by tourists. Every one of them is smiling. It’s refreshing to see the city as they see it, through the eyes of someone who’s never lived here and is moving through it for the very first time.
Movement itself, I’ve decided, makes me a particular type of nomad. Despite my best efforts, I’m not a traveler who can sit still at the beach or a homebody capable of spending a day on the couch. I am someone who appreciates my surroundings most profoundly by moving through them — one step, one pedal, one stroke at a time. For some, it’s predominately music or food that draws them in; while both compel me, I’m typically hooked by opportunities for physical activity. Outdoor recreation allows me to live well in a space, inhaling its air, taking it in at a manageable pace, appreciating its health. A run in a foreign city, a paddle around Teddy Roosevelt Island, or a bike ride home from the office are the best ways I know to carefully observe the landscape.
That’s why I’ve recently organized all of my posts focused on recreation, athletics, health and wellness into a new category here on Neighborhood Nomads called Places That Shape Us. You can find it in the drop down menu on the righthand side of the home page. Check it out and come back to visit for upcoming posts about moving and exercising throughout this fine city.
November 15, 2012, Washington, DC: I always have trouble with this time of year when the sun sets early and the temperature drops and those of us who are outdoor types accustomed to squeezing all we can into long, bright days are suddenly forced to find alternatives indoors. You’d think that after 30 some years, I’d be used to this annual transition but it’s still a struggle every fall. I struggle to slow down and to simplify. To cook more warm meals and drink more tea. To sleep longer. To do less. I have to remind myself that others throughout the neighborhood, too, are retreating indoors and I’m not missing out. I have to remind myself to be grateful for these shorter days that bring us back home.
So this is our home this days. This is my view of where we live, in this sparking city, in this eclectic neighborhood, in this warm little apartment.
Any advice for living simply and learning to appreciate shorter days at home? Share your tips in the comments below.
November 10, 2012, Washington, DC: My one-way commute to the office recently shrank from 35 miles down to six. While the work itself is similar in the new job, the lifestyle change is dramatic. I no longer spend the morning racing down the highway out of the city. I fill my gas tank once a month now rather than once a week.
It’s not necessarily hours I’ve gained — sometimes venturing six miles across D.C. can take the same amount of time as driving forty miles against traffic — but I have newfound options and flexibility. Mostly I take Metro and connect to a bus up the hill. Often I bike home on Bikeshare rather than returning to the Metro. Once in awhile, I drive. And I’ve made it a goal to run/walk home once a week — down Embassy Row, past the White House, and along the National Mall towards the Capitol. It’s the choices I enjoy. I appreciate spending less on gas and I appreciate how easy it is to incorporate city life into my day on the way home when I don’t have to worry about parking the car. I enjoy the flexibility that comes with living and working in places accessible to transportation alternatives, even if it means renting a smaller apartment in a great location.
November 4, 2012, Washington, DC: A storm like Hurricane Sandy pushes to the forefront many of the topics discussed regularly here on Neighborhood Nomads. In alignment with the tagline at the top of this site, storm stories are stories of our homes, our neighborhoods, and the power — and vulnerabilities — of the physical places we inhabit. The devastation left behind has us focused on our communities, our neighbors, our infrastructure, our cities and our towns. It’s clear at times like this that our connections to the places we call home are both physical and emotional. The structural is personal.
“For my part I am never more at home in America than at a baseball game like this in Clark Griffith’s gem of a field, gem small, in beautiful weather in the capital of the country and my side winning.”
-From Robert Frost’s 1956 essay on baseball for Sports Illustrated
September 4, 2012, Washington, DC: It’s four p.m. on the Tuesday after Labor Day, three hours before game time. Vendors are arriving to work and a few early birds are milling about the box office outside Nationals Park, ready for the second game of this week’s series against the Chicago Cubs. I bike past them on my way home, detouring down the right field line and up the wooden boardwalk along the Anacostia River. I take the moment to imagine the possibilities: Could this city be home to postseason baseball for the first time since 1933?
From the upper deck yesterday, it certainly felt possible.