America is not exceptional. Or at least the positive expected consequences of the qualities one might point out as exceptional are not a given. Yes, our founding fathers demonstrated a remarkable capacity to learn from the mistakes of others. They looked at the upheavals that brought the western world to that point and decided that this country needn’t go through the French Revolution to learn the lesson of the French Revolution, that we could just take the principals of the Magna Carta without having to reinvent it all from scratch. And in the broad strokes of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, they did pretty good for white men. Of course they made their own mistakes: slavery, the genocide of Native Americans, exclusion of women from the list of people with rights, but working with what they had and the history they had to work with, they came up with a pretty flexible, flawed system that has both allowed and stymied improvement in our understanding of freedom, liberty, and the right to pursue happiness.
When I have a living situation set up to suit me, all of my books are lined up on my old Ikea bookshelves. There is an entire section dedicated to domestic architecture. Sears kit homes from the 1940’s. Victorian mansions. I use these books as reference when I want to write about a space that feels real. But that’s just the after-the-fact excuse. I love domestic architecture. I think about becoming a Realtor sometimes just so I’d have the excuse to investigate houses. Something about the funny little details that I can’t get enough of. The placement of a closet, the arrangement of a kitchen… Never ending opportunities to wonder what these people were thinking.
So you’d think house hunting would be my idea of a good time, right? Yeah. Me too. That was until I spent the better part of the last three months obsessing about housing. What’s my credit rating, how much can I afford, how much do I want to put down, can I get everything into 1000 square feet considering that I’ve got a storage pod, and then this thing that happens when I get into a house, which renders every other practical consideration obsolete… Does this feel like space I could write in?
And, in re-reading that, I’ve realized I’m a whiny bitch with first world problems and I should be damn grateful that I even have the opportunity in the first place… I’m going to go be ashamed of myself and my myopically privileged perspective now.