Draw the floor plan of the house you grew up in. Draw in everything from doors to furniture placement. Take a classmate on a tour. Put an X on the emotional hotspot of the house and write from there, using lots of sensory details. If you want to write the story of something that happened in that hotspot, go for it. When you're done, go back, reread and find what essay you could write from this little micro-narrative. If I wrote about making Christmas cookies with my grandma, the larger idea could be something like how traditions are handed down. I once had a student write about his mom's cinnamon rolls that she made every Sunday and the essay that came from that was about how people don't take time to slow down anymore.
On a separate note, Kelly and I had a micro-conversation about houses this afternoon, wondering why do we need closure with places? We can understand needing closure with people, but why do we need it with physical places? Not a question we were able to answer.
And, perhaps the best part of the day, on a house level, was this essay context that came across Brevity's blog (the short-short nonfiction journal): an essay contest (three hundred words), for the chance to win a tiny house. I'm smitten. I love tiny houses anyway and have been obsessed with them for years (though I can't figure out where to put all my books). But these, built of 99% salvaged materials, are just works of art. I want one. Particularly the Canyon Lake one, because I just can't get over how awesome the stairs and the loft are. And I'm just in love with the potential energy efficiency, as well as smart design. I want to have enough room for a couple of people to stay over (sorely lacking in my current apartment) and I think there's good potential here. Of course, I'm way too mobile right now to be able to handle such permanence as a real house (of any size), but it's a lovely dream to bookmark and return to at odd moments.