I’ve Been Everywhere…

Well, I’m certainly not Johnny Cash, but it does feel like I’ve been all over the place—if not everywhere—since my last blog post.

As I’ve noted before, I’m becoming notoriously bad at blogging. This may be related to the fact that, after sitting at a computer and essentially, well, blogging for 7.5 hours, I don’t always want to come home, sit at a computer, and blog. I want to work out, walk the dog, cook something tasty, and then read a book or do nothing (don’t judge; you do P90X and walk an 80-lb dog at the pace of a slow job and you also will want to stop moving for the rest of the night). It’s very selfish, I know.

Many nights I read—and I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m enjoying the opportunity to spend time becoming well read. I am happy to pore over my subscription copies of The Atlantic and Time magazine (which I raved about in my last post), and I’ve read several good (and several not-so-good) books lately. If you’re interested: I most recently enjoyed Love in the Time of Cholera and did not enjoy Middlesex.

Sometimes, I admit, I do go to bed at 9 p.m. because that’s what being an adult is all about. But I haven’t stopped moving, because I’ve been a lot of cool places since I’ve moved to Illinois…cool places that I haven’t managed to detail on my blog…cool places including:

Montana may be the "Big Sky State," but the big sky in Indiana is pretty beautiful, too.

Montana may be the “Big Sky State,” but the big sky in Indiana is pretty beautiful, too.

Upland, Indiana. Okay, so this is not (in and of itself) a cool place, but the people there make it amazing. I’ve never in my life spent a weekend in such a small town and left saying, “I wish I could stay here.” I visited Ellie, Tom, Jon, and Matt at Taylor University in September and it was, for lack of a better term, so meaningful to see and experience all of the places and people I’d been hearing about since we all became friends in D.C. Most of all, I didn’t expect Indiana to be so beautiful…because, well, I was led to believe it was only corn out there. And there is a lot of corn. But there’s also an amazing sky and fields for days and some really wonderful people.

Detroit, Michigan. Christianity Today sent me to Detroit with a colleague for a weekend to report a story on urban farming. It’s part of “This Is Our City,” a seven-part series of city profiles. I had never been in any city like Detroit, because it just felt…vast and vacant. It overwhelmed a little bit. It’s one thing to read a statistic, that 200,000 homes and residential lots in the city are abandoned; it’s quite another thing to go there and drive through the streets and experience it yourself. I had the privilege of meeting in person with three different Detroiters who showed me how they’re using gardening to reduce blight in their neighborhood and to connect with their community. Their stories are powerful tales of intense “place love,” a love for the city that motivates them to better it. In a way, Detroit broke my heart because I don’t see how the city can ever regain what it has lost with the decline of the auto manufacturing industry, but it gave me hope that one day I’ll be invested in a community, that I also can have that kind of “place love”—I just have to settle down in a place first. [And my three-page story on urban farming is coming out in the Jan/Feb print edition of CT magazine, soooo I’m pretty excited about that, too!]

Ellie and I, Thanksgiving Day at the Leader's house in Cape Cod :)

Ellie and I, Thanksgiving Day at the Leader’s house in Cape Cod :)

Boston, Massachusetts. I’ll never be able to sing along with “The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything” truthfully ever again, because now I have been to Boston in the fall. Instead of going home for Thanksgiving, I traveled to New England and spent the holiday with my friend Ellie and her family. What a great weekend! The weather was gorgeous, so we explored Cape Cod on Thursday before enjoying a fabulous meal, and then we spent a day doing Boston—Freedom Trail, Old North Church, Boston Commons, Mike’s Pastry. Plus, we made it down to Newport, Rhode Island, where we toured “The Breakers,” the Vanderbilt’s 170,000-square-foot mansion (you might say it’s a little bit on the large side as far as houses go). I absolutely loved being in New England and meeting Ellie’s family. She has been the most amazing friend to me—and so far we’ve hit up roughly 20 percent of the country (9 states) together, which is pretty good considering we’ve known each other for all of 10 months!

And now this song is stuck in my head. Oh dear. That’s quite enough for one night.

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