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Your local electronics store has just started selling time machines, anywhere doors, and invisibility helmets. You can only afford one. Which of these do you buy, and why?

I know enough about history to be fascinated by the past, but that doesn’t mean I’d really like to be there. The times we live in are pretty good, comparatively speaking. The daily lives of people from the past look romantic, colorful, chivalrous, and action-filled, but everyday life for the common folk must have been a struggle every day. People lived hard lives, and died of diseases we get immunized against. They died from childbirth complications, bad cuts, or fights over stolen cows, or poaching in the local Lord’s lands.

Imagine people emptying their chamber pots out of upper storey windows in towns and cities. Apparently that’s where the custom of men walking on the street side came from. (But I’ve also heard it’s because of the swords they carried.) The stench in some areas of town must have been overpowering; animals being driven through town to the stock markets, the richer folks’ horses leaving their leavings in the street. The England of Queen Elizabeth must have been great for her, but the for the every-day butcher, baker, and candlestick maker, it must have been pretty grim. Hard work, long days, social barriers. And in the country, farmers rarely had cottages that had more than one room, and sometimes lived in a room above the animal barn. Talk about trouble sleeping…

No desire to be invisible. I’ll do that when I die.

That leaves the anywhere doors. The prompt doesn’t say whether or not I get to choose where the door leads, or what’s behind it, or if I get to use it only once. Regardless of the rules, I’d take door number one. If there’s only one, I’d think hard about the place I want to visit most, for at least a month — maybe more, do some research, and then probably choose Italy. To take in the countryside, the towns, the sea at my own pace would be a dream come true.

Is there a second door?

Here are some doors that pique my curiosity for different reasons (St. Andrews, Scotland):