Miles From One Year Ago…

“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…

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Saturday in Eastport

April 21, 2012, Annapolis, MD: We’re not in Eastport much anymore, not since we moved from Annapolis back to DC. Just across Spa Creek from historic downtown Annapolis, the Maritime Republic of Eastport as it’s called these days is a place with a rebellious spirit much like my birthplace of Westmount on the edge of Montreal. Legend has it that Eastport residents here on the peninsula called Horn Point declared their independence from Annapolis over beers at a neighborhood pub in 1998. That fall, Eastport residents challenged Annapolis residents to a rowdy tug-of-war stretching across the water in a show of strength that has since become a local tradition. It was the first tradition we witnessed here the weekend we moved to Annapolis back in 2009.

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Map of Mornings: Historic Annapolis

This is one in a series of morning photo essays documenting neighborhoods around town.

April 20, 2012, Annapolis, MD: I arrived early this morning in Annapolis, my former hometown and current work place. I drove down our old street and paid a visit to the waterfront park two blocks away, where water taxi service used to deposit us home. It was quiet out there this morning as usual. A few dogs and their owners were beginning their day.

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Remember That Winter?

Annapolis, Winter 2010

January 27, 2012, Washington, DC: It’ll turn on you without warning, the weather down here in the Mid-Atlantic. A morning like today’s — windows down… the temperature a balmy 61 degrees and rising… dark, severe, layer cake clouds luring you out for a long, warm morning run — and it’s impossible to remember what January is supposed to feel like. Today’s scene is offbeat. Distracting. It’s nothing like that season a few years ago that you swore you’d never forget and yet can’t quite recall in the warmth of this morning.

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Anniversary of Home

November 1, 2011, Washington, DC: Today is our anniversary of home. It’s hard to believe it’s been only one year since we moved to Capitol Hill, harder still to believe we’re still so fresh off our short-lived experiment in non-city living. In some ways it feels like we never left Washington.

In other ways, of course, today’s a good day to recall what we left behind.

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