December 24, 2013, Washington, DC: We moved about ten days ago. For weeks, it seemed, carpets were rolled up, boxes piled sky high, and rooms smelled like cardboard. That’s largely the reason we’re staying put this Christmas. There’s been so much in flux, a few too many loose ends to keep track of during the craze of the holiday season.
But it’s worth a few moments during this hectic time to recognize that my 27th home was good to me. It’s the place we moved into the week our first niece was born, and the place where dad and I pushed the living room furniture aside to choreograph a father-daughter wedding dance. It’s a place that was full of lovable imperfections, marked by days spent carefully building a fire in the back right corner of the fireplace so as not to smoke out the entire apartment, and cooking with no hood above the stove, and bathing in the smallest shower known to man. It’s an apartment where I enjoyed my morning coffee in a stream of perfect sunlight back by the kitchen, and the only place we’ll likely ever have an octagonal living room. It’s the home from which we could hear musicians performing above the Metro and see straight into the game shop and library windows at night. Home #27 was also the place where I began this blog and became heavily invested in exploring the meaning of the living spaces and surroundings that shape our everyday lives. And it’s the place I fell in love with Capitol Hill and came to truly understand the value of a great location.
Which is why we didn’t go far. Home #28 is just a few blocks away and we couldn’t be happier about staying put in the neighborhood.
January 19, 2013, Washington, DC: Those of us who move around a lot experience many ceremonial and formal beginnings. We are accustomed to looking back and remembering the bookends — the day we arrived somewhere, the moment we settled in, the afternoon we packed up and drove away. It’s easy to recall the commencement of something new, to call up the morning the transition ended and we began again.
Inauguration weekend in Washington feels like a fitting time to recall these memories, not only due to the nature of the tradition, but because my own relationship to Washington tracks so closely with President Obama’s.
September 23, 2012, Washington, DC: Look at this place! Yesterday hundreds of people swarmed to Barracks Row for the annual fall festival on our neighborhood Main St. What I like about this festival is its odd blend of elements. The Marine Barracks at the heart of the neighborhood’s geography and identity plays a key role in the festival, opening the celebration with the presentation of colors, hosting a Military Chef’s Cook-Off, and giving tours of the Commandants Home and the barracks themselves. At the same time, drummers and swing dancers, artists, families, and foodies celebrate in the street. Walking away from the festival yesterday afternoon, I could hear drumbeats from 8th St. bouncing off buildings in one direction, and cheers and music erupting from Nationals Park in the other. I took photos of the Barracks Row Fall Festival for the organizers yesterday and included some of my favorites here. Click below to see the rest.
May 26, 2012, Washington, DC: The Friday night and Saturday morning of a holiday weekend is always a good time to enjoy the city. If you’re staying put, you watch the evening traffic head out, bound for the beach or a weekend with family. You watch the roads clear and things grow a bit quiet, then hear the volume crank up a notch as the neighbors head out for the night and reclaim their local spaces. It is on city nights at the start of a holiday weekend that you realize how small this place really is, nights like this when you feel like it’s entirely your own.
February 24, 2012, Washington, DC: Location, Location, Location. Cities sprung up where they did in the first place due entirely to their geographical assets. New York City: A trading post in a sheltered harbor at the mouth of the Hudson River that would later take shape as a critical terminus linking the Atlantic to the Hudson and the Erie Canal. Chicago: A short portage that would eventually connect the Mississippi River to the Great Lakes via the 1848 opening of the Illinois and Michigan Canal. San Francisco: A fort called the Presidio at the mouth of the Golden Gate marking an entry to a Pacific trade route.
Geography has long played a pivotal role in the identities and growth of our cities, not only for the promise of protection, but for the promise of access. As natural terminals, first by water, later by rail, public transit and air, our cities have always served as hubs that facilitate the transport of both people and goods.
But how many of the historic hubs of your city remain relevant to your life today?
A weekend visit to San Francisco’s Ferry Building, followed by a return to my own neighborhood at Eastern Market, has me thinking about the ways in which some longstanding urban cores still have the ability to anchor our cities and our neighborhoods.
December 19, 2011, Washington, DC:Barracks Row and Eastern Market are not like Georgetown. We have none of the big box stores on the Hill outside of Union Station; instead it’s the food, the drink and necessities like the neighborhood hardware store that we tend to write home about. Still, there are gems within a few short blocks for local shopping, several pictured here. And therein lies one of the biggest perks of living in a walkable neighborhood: Come Christmas, it’s entirely possible to avoid the mall. On busy weekends before the holidays, there’s no need to get in the car.
“The rhythm of life is small-town and middle-class, which makes the town comfortable. What makes it yeasty is the cosmopolitan worldliness of its people. The man across the street has just gotten off an airplane from Karachi, and the fellow umpiring the kids softball game has spent the day over plans for putting a man on the moon.”
-Russell Baker on Washington, New York Times Magazine, 1965
November 5, 2011, Washington, DC: Going out to eat in Washington, DC is fabulous in part for reasons like this: The clientele in cozy spots around the corner from home is more often than not impressive and fascinating. It’s no wonder then that the best seat in the house is right up front for a meal at the bar, where you can observe the people who come and go and hear a bit about their day. That’s the spot we chose last night for our first trip to Acqua Al 2.