Living in the open air is a very different experience

I’m currently reading Graham Greene’s The Quiet American, and I’m liking it very much. Graham Greene is funny, he made a distinction between his “serious books” and his “entertainments” that seems completely nonsensical to anyone except (presumably) for him. I think that The Quiet American is an entertainment, while The Heart of the Matter is a serious book, even though they’re kind of the same book.

Anyway, what I’ve been struck by in reading the book is how it all takes place in the open air. Even when you’re inside, the air and noise of the outdoors are flowing through your environment. It’s interesting. And very different from the way we live in the U.S. Here, the windows are almost always closed. Even now, when it’s relatively temperate throughout the United States, I imagine that most people are like me and are keeping their windows closed and their houses climate-controlled. The only place (that I’ve been) where people keep their windows open is California. I know that when I was an undergrad, our dorms had neither air-conditioning nor (I believe) any heating, so we tended to have windows open all the time.

There’s something atavistically satisfying about being able to feel the wind and smell the breeze and hear the birds. It’s not necessarily a comfortable thing (I wouldn’t and don’t choose to do it), but there’s a part of me that’s happy when I’m forced to.

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