The last day that movers were packing up our home, I sat in our living room staring at the empty walls where artwork and family photos had been hanging just hours earlier. It dawned on me that in a matter of days there would be different frames with different images hanging on those walls. The thought was quite simple and ordinary, I know, but it was enough to make me think. As we move in and out of apartments and houses, our possessions come with us but the structures remain. They might see one, five, 10 or more families throughout their architectural lifetimes. They’re also one of the most defining parts of our culture, I believe. I mean, they’re where we live, after all. Everything that happens in the world and in our everyday lives somehow makes its way into our houses. All of these musings have been coming back into my mind from time to time in the past few months, making me want to read or write or explore all of these thoughts and come up with something substantial. Then today I think I found the book that already did all of those things for me. It’s called At Home by Bill Bryson, and after only reading the introduction, my mind’s already overjoyed. Take a peak:
Looking around my house, I was startled and somewhat appalled to realize how little I knew about the domestic world around me. … Suddenly the home seemed a place of mystery to me. So I formed the idea to make a journey around it … I would write a history of the world without leaving home. … What I found, to my great surprise, is that whatever happens in the world — whatever is discovered or created or bitterly fought over — eventually ends up, in one way or another, in your house. … So the history of household life isn’t just a history of beds and sofas and kitchen stoves, as I had vaguely supposed it would be, but of scurvy and guano and the Eiffel Tower and bedbugs and body-snatching and just about everything else that has ever happened. Houses aren’t refuges from history. They are where history ends up.
(Bill Bryson, At Home, pg. 5)