Unless you grew up in a cave (or are my kids), the statement “There’s no place like home” immediately brings to mind a young girl, three strange and oddly familiar companions on a seemingly impossible quest to be granted their own heart’s one desire – in Dorothy’s case, to go home.
This summer, I performed in my fourth stage production of The Wizard of Oz. The first time – at 6 years of age – I was cast as a munchkin (‘cause, well, I was short). The second time – at 9 – I played Dorothy (with some bizarre glow-in-the-dark, dancing skeletons). The third time – now 12 – I was the Scarecrow (because I could do the splits, of course). And the fourth time, this summer – at the age-which-shall-not-be-named, I filled a variety of roles including dance captain, flying witch double, jitterbugger and Ozian.
All this really means is I have spent the summer, and possibly, a lifetime contemplating the whole idea of “there’s no place like home”. I guess you could say, since the age of 6, I have been trying to make sense of the concept - if you ever go searching for your heart’s desire, you shouldn’t look any further than your own backyard, because if it isn’t there, you never lost it in the first place.
This whole backyard idea is a problem for me. You see, I have always had the sense that searching in someone else’s backyard would garner better and more exciting results. Clearly, the writer of this classic just could not have had my backyard in mind. Nobody could possibly find anything in my backyard. My backyard is always in some state of needing to be mowed. It is filled with biting and blood sucking bugs, and the occasional snake. It looks back on a house that is in bad need of a paint job and a back room addition that is 8 years in the making. My backyard is perpetually messy, chaotic, and often flat out wild- weeds discernible from actual plants, big mole hole pit falls, branches falling on you when you least expect it, and dead squirrels hanging from trees (ok, this just happened once, but still…).
In someone else’s yard the pickings seem greener, lusher, much better groomed. In someone else’s yard, I might not get bit, scratched, hit by unexpected objects or fall into holes. In someone else’s backyard, maybe my heart’s desire wouldn’t be masked by an exploding termite nest and I might just stumble upon it instead of a fallen tree limb.
But just at the moment when I have had enough of my backyard and am ready to madly run into someone else’s and begin frantically rummage through their shrubs – hang the strange looks and possible police escort – something always happens…
I make the most perfect cup of coffee ever.
My cat, who usually denies my existence, comes to sit with me.
A random guy, holds the door open for an eternity waiting for me to enter.
Or best of all, my husband finally figures out a way we can get away for a few days before the dog days of summer are completely gone.
When this last one happens, I know then what is sure to come. I will at last be allowed (welcomed even) to hang out in someone else’s backyard for a while. I will be able to look under a few of their rocks, contemplate their view, and dig around in their shrubs. I will swat at their bugs, peer into their mole holes and dodge their flying greenery.
And when I return home my backyard will magically look a little bit greener, seem a little lusher,
and at the very least…feel freshly mowed.
Then, I will be ready to start searching in my own backyard again.
There’s no place like home.