Thursday, September 1, 2011

Returning from the Land of Oz: Do people really live like this?

I recently went to a family reunion held in a relative's lovely neighborhood.  As we pulled up to their beautiful (insert: clean, orderly and meticulously decorated) home, I marveled at the row upon row of manicured lawns, weed-free gardens and picture-perfect children we had passed.

Where was I?  Was this heaven?  Was this Iowa?  No, I was merely in a suburb a scant twenty minutes from our own home.  So why did I feel like I was on a different planet?

"How do they do it?" I asked my husband.

"Huh?  Who does what?" he replied distracted, attempting to park between the numerous cars of our various family members.

"All of these houses.  All of these people.  How do they, I don't know, keep it all so...Better Homes and Gardens-esque.  So perfect!"  I was amazed.  I was taking in sight of the stone-front-wood-shingled-bricked-driveways all in a pristine row.

"Maybe they have a lawn service."

"Maybe," I said uncertainly.  If I lawn service could do all this, I wanted one.

 "They probably don't have a dog,"  I suggested uncertainly.

We have three dogs.  Two labs and a bigger-than-life Maltese. They dig in our yard, pee on the floor and shed all over creation.  Yeah, they're loud, messy and lovable, and my husband and I are our own lawn service.  Even if we hired those guys in the green trucks and farmed out our menagerie,  I'm convinced we could never reach this level of orderliness.

"I'll bet there aren't many big families here.  The kids are probably all grown up,"   I continued.

My husband looked confused.  "Who are you talking about?"

He stopped the car and we got out of our family SUV.  As I open the door, I bump over the baked beans I have brought to share.  Only lost a scant blob on the passenger side floor mat.  Have to remember to clean that up later. 

"Never mind."  It seemed my husband didn't notice that we had just entered the Twilight Zone.

My car door slammed.  Suddenly, I was surrounded by birds flying about, wafting scent of flowers and a community of orderly houses, filled with apparent peace and bliss. I followed my two of my four kids and the love of my life up the driveway, lugging a crock pot and an overflowing bag of clothing, sunscreen and towels.  Shaking my head I disputed his assertion that the lawn service could do so much.  I was walking up the Yellow Brick road and entering the Land of Oz.

We rang the bell.  The door opened.  It wasn't the Wizard, but a distant cousin.  As we piled into the house, I climbed over a pile of shoes.  Down the hall I could see the bowls of jello salads and mounds of desserts, napkins and casseroles.  The noise of children running drifted up the stairs.  There was a smudge on the wall.  I think it was chocolate.  Their cat ran up the stairs, a nephew in hot pursuit.

Hey wait a second.  

This isn't perfect.  This isn't meticulous.  It's not even pristine.  It wasn't far different from my world.

The house was still beautiful and still decorated, but it was truly a home.  Looking at the relative uproar, I realized that we all have things that are a bit different behind the closed door or our public facades.  We often don't get to look behind the scenes.  But even without that glimpse, its important to remember that the man (or woman) behind the curtain, may not be the Wizard of Oz, but may be a member of normal, crazy, sometimes messy family like the rest of us.

Gosh it felt good to know I'm not alone!  

Take that Rod Sterling.  And Dorothy, no need to click those ruby slippers, cuz you may be already home.

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