Dolled up houses

During my first outing with our new neighbors last night, I realized that people with houses spend a lot of time working on them, spending money on them, and, perhaps most of all, talking about them.

One woman explained that she had just installed invisible screen doors on her house to keep out mosquitos.

Another talked about the massive screen projectors she had installed in her house so that her husband could watch huge versions of his favorite sporting events.

And one talked about how much she loved her indoor garage. When she returned from an outing with her kids, she could leave them in the car, safely ensconced in the garage, if they didn’t want to stop watching the movie they were viewing in the backseat.

This detail stuck with me the most. Kids watching movies in the backseat of a van seems like the height of luxury. Only in a black taxi in London, where you’re paying about $10 a mile, having I experienced such decadence. And even then, I had to sit through ads.

In London, when my friends and I talked about housing, the conversation was more of an airing of grievances, rather than a description of home improvements.

When our boiler exploded and flooded our flat, we described the carnage to our colleagues. Several of them nodded sagely and said that the same thing had happened to them.

Two of my friends had to walk up several flights of stairs to get to their flats, and used to describe how they would wrestle their stroller, baby, groceries and other assorted sundries up the stairs at the same time.

I’m not sure anyone here in Atlanta could make the transition from huge houses with impeccable decor, down to the invisible screen doors, to an 85-step walk up to their two bedroom apartment, without storage.

Guests to our London flat had to step over our stroller to get into the front hallway. I still marvel at the clear entryway we have here. But we might hold off on any other luxuries – once you have floor-to-ceiling screens, it might be tough to give them up.

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