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.
November 21, 2012, Washington, DC: “Are you going home for Thanksgiving? Where are you from?” I’ve met more new people than usual in the months leading up to this holiday, so I’ve fielded these questions a lot lately. It’s friendly conversation, intended to get to know a newcomer, and yet the questions and the assumptions people make about their answers perpetually throw me.
I realize my nice new acquaintances have no idea I’m so consumed by the nuances of the topic. But I suspect many of you agree: When it comes to explaining where we are from, and sometimes where we are going, the answer is oddly complicated.
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.
October 5, 2012, Steamboat, CO: You know you’re getting close to Steamboat Springs when bright yellow billboards begin to pepper the landscape. Every two minutes or so, another sign for F.M. Light and Sons blurs past, promising travelers Levis and cowboy boots, Stetson hats and Woolrich blankets upon their arrival in town. The store’s advertising is comparable to that of Wall Drug or South of the Border, so excessive that anyone arriving there would assume they’re in for a similarly overdone tourist trap. For those who live here, maybe it is, but it’s also an moderately sized family business on the main drag of this old mining town, in operation since 1905 when the Light family first arrived in Steamboat via stagecoach. It’s one historical marker in a town that’s grown considerably since, radiating outward from F.M. Light and Sons and building upon its traditional Western roots.
July 31, 2012, Washington, DC: Growing up along the edges of the Pacific Ocean, Joana Stillwell moved around so much as a child she used to think she didn’t have a hometown. Now she’s certain she has many. The realization came this summer, fresh out of college and selected to participate in a global mentorship program with the Young Photographers Alliance. The theme of the project: Hometown. With guidance from Seattle photographer Stewart Tilger, the fine arts graduate went to work exploring a few of the places she’s lived from behind the lens of her camera. The result: An eye-opening examination of her fluid roots and her fluid thinking about a topic many assume is firmly grounded in just one place.
In typical nomad fashion, I spoke to Joana on a recent afternoon as she traveled by ferry from her former hometown of Silverdale, Washington to her current hometown of Seattle.
Read on for highlights from my conversation with Joana after the jump.
July 20, 2012, Washington, DC: Like so many of us, Julia Christian very deliberately selected a place to call home. Bottom line: She loved it there. But unlike those of us with ultra-nomadic tendencies who land far from the nest, Julia chose to return to the very neighborhood in which she grew up. She decided she simply couldn’t live without Capitol Hill.
Julia is a nomad of a different kind — she doesn’t necessarily travel the world but she most certainly travels the neighborhood. On a daily basis, her whereabouts are hard to pin down; she is constantly on the move, seeming to appear everywhere at once in the bars and restaurants and arts organizations throughout the neighborhood. She is a product of four neighborhood schools and five local addresses; the former executive director of Capitol Hill’s Chamber of Commerce, called CHAMPS; the current managing director of the H Street Playhouse; a consultant of sorts for H St. Main St.; and the proud owner of the Twitter handle @CapitolHillDC.
I recently met Julia on H St. at the British pub, The Queen Vic, before she darted off to a planning meeting for the H St. Festival. Read on for more from Julia after the jump.
July 18, 2012, Washington, DC: Speaking of neighborhood nomads, meet Dan Silverman (if you don’t know him already). Silverman stays connected to his most recent hometown of Washington by walking. A lot. He is, in fact, so fanatical about doing so that he makes a living recording his observations along the way. On lengthy strolls throughout Washington’s many neighborhoods, Silverman takes note of an architectural detail or a neighborhood garden, gets the nitty gritty details on crime, or shares the latest real estate scoop. He posts his findings to his hyper-local, hyper-popular blog, Prince of Petworth. Silverman sat still long enough to drink a cup of coffee at Peregrine on Capitol Hill and share his story with Neighborhood Nomads.
Read on for an interview with the Prince of Petworth after the jump.