April 13, 2013, New York: Early on in high school, my art teacher started taking groups of us on outings known as Saturdays in the City. Every month or two, we’d take a train trip into Manhattan to go to an art exhibit, walk around New York, and head out to lunch. They were easy afternoon trips — in retrospect, a simple way to take advantage of New York for students who lived in a nearby town but weren’t yet ready to navigate a city they didn’t live in on their own. Funny that I hadn’t given much thought to those trips, let alone noticed their presence among many influences that have unconsciously shaped Neighborhood Nomads. Not until this morning, that is, when I woke up and looked out a window onto New York and thought, This is just the type of day that reminds me of Saturdays in the City.
Whichever city we’re in, Saturdays in the City are old hat these days. But isn’t it nice to see them like we used to, full of something fresh and different that we’ve never laid eyes on?
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Photo Credit: Tania Cypriano
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 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.
Read on for an interview with Booker Mitchell.
October 21, 2012, New York: I love mornings in New York, especially after arriving here at night and in traffic. In the early morning, Manhattan’s streets are again breathable and streams of sunlight barrel between buildings onto this city island. Runners dodge down near empty avenues while there’s still room. Night owls in pajamas slowly walk their dogs.
I’ve never been much of a night owl, but there was no choice but to become one as a college student here in New York. I’m glad that’s no longer required of me and I can again relish my role as a morning person in the city that never sleeps. It’s the best time to look at New York’s architecture all lit up from the east and see its buildings reflected in puddles before the images are eclipsed by shoes and taxicabs.
“And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had the familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.”
-F. Scott Fitzgerald
June 19, 2012, Washington, DC: In June 2011, I embarked on a year-long project that would bring me back to each of my hometowns to learn more about the places I’d lived. There were many that had shaped me — from Montreal and Toronto to San Francisco and New York — and I wanted to get a good feel for their geography, their people, their neighborhoods and their pulses. I also wanted to examine, broadly speaking, why people live where they do and what makes a place feel like home. With ample vacation days, multiple frequent flyer tickets, many tanks of gas, several bicycles, and a few good pairs of walking shoes, I covered extensive ground in twelve months. The project, Neighborhood Nomad, is documented on this blog, derived from a love of travel and a longstanding obsession with the power of place.
The study came full circle this weekend, ending up where it started on a Virginia vineyard. And so with the advent of summer comes an opportunity to revisit the year I spent traveling back to my former neighborhoods. I’ve come miles from one year ago, and I’ve logged all of them in hopes of better understanding the places we called home.
Read on for a chronological overview of this year’s travels back home…
“I carry the place around the world in my heart but sometimes I try to shake it off in my dreams.”
-F. Scott Fitzgerald on New York
November 17, 2011, Washington, DC: Last weekend wore me out. For the past few nights, I’ve come home from work unable to write and unable to think. New York is tiring.
But it’s tiring for all the right reasons. In one weekend, we saw nearly twenty percent of our wedding guests, dined and celebrated with immediate and extended family, ran into an old friend at one in the morning, made treks up to Columbia and out to Brooklyn, and descended back into another hometown.
There are so many reasons to love New York City it’s downright exhausting.
If we lived here again, could we keep up? Would our pace slow to a semblance of sanity if we didn’t have to pack it all into a weekend? Or would the city still whisk us away?
“There is no question there is an unseen world; the question is, how far is it from midtown and how late is it open?”
November 13, 2011, New York: I went back to school this weekend. After ten years away from Morningside Heights, I returned to the New York neighborhood in which I lived as a college student. My husband came along for the trip down memory lane.
This is one in a series of morning photo essays documenting neighborhoods around town.
November 13, 2011, New York: Saturday morning in Union Square begins with a jackhammer, a film crew, a farmer’s market, and a column of steam rising from the street outside L’Express. After a visit to 71 Irving Place for a cup of coffee on one of my favorite city blocks, I begin this walk through a neighborhood I’ve come to know well over the course of a decade.