The Wizard of Oz received a memorable tribute at last night's Oscars in honor of its 75th Anniversary, and I couldn't help but think of how much this classic film has impacted my own life and work. I was immediately transported back to my childhood TV room with its worn sleeper couch where I would watch, rewind, watch again, Judy Garland in pigtails and blue gingham singing Somewhere Over the Rainbow. (Not to mention the fact that I was a munchkin in my elementary school's production, and you can hear my tone-deaf singing voice drowning out the rest of the chorus on the VHS recording of the performance.)
There is a timeless quality to the idea of trading in your black-and-white life (for me that was known as junior high in the suburbs) for one that is Technicolor. Of escaping a small town where no one understands you for a place where magical things can happen and lions and tin-men can link arms with you and skip down the yellow brick road in search of the wizard. Dorothy lands in Oz with the help of some ruby slippers, while my protagonist in my books, Louise Lambert, is transported back in time via a magical vintage dress. I honestly didn't see the true parallels until last night, and how ingrained in my subconscious this story is. The accessories change, but the theme remains the same. The yearning and loneliness of childhood, the need to escape, and then maybe getting in a bit over your head when you get what you wished for. I guess adolescents of every generation have always been longing for something more, and using fantasy as a way out. I know that I did.
Ultimately both Dorothy and Louise come to the realization that maybe life in Kansas (or Connecticut) is not so bad after all. That even though there may be more glamorous and magical worlds out there, there's nothing like the comfort of your own family and waking up in your childhood bed underneath a cozy familiar quilt. But it's nice to have the option of clicking your ruby slippers three times and doing it all again whenever you so choose -- either through watching a movie that transports you, reading a book that enchants you, or putting on a vintage dress that reminds you of a bygone era. It's important to be reminded that a bigger world is out there, even if there truly is no place like home.