Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Grass is Always Greener

If you had the chance to step into somebody else’s life, and live life their way for a while, would you do it? I think it would be fabulous to try out someone else’s way of life, just to see how someone else lives and maybe try something different I wouldn’t have otherwise tried.

I’ve been moderately curious about the idea of a house swap since I read the novel “Tara Road” by Maeve Binchy several years ago. Then that movie “The Holiday” came out, which also features a house swap situation—and then my cousin and her family did a house swap with a family from San Francisco for a time as well. She said it worked out very well, and the people who lived in her house were cool and that she loved having the chance to live near San Francisco and stay in a home for all that time instead of in a hotel.

Todd and I had long toyed with the idea of renting out our house for the summer and living entirely on the boat. As appealing as it might sound to have someone else pay our mortgage for a few months, there are a few things that bother me about the idea of renting out our house—namely the idea that someone else is sleeping in our bed. So that’s what’s been keeping me from wanting to go into a house swap situation. All I can think is “Are these people going to funk up my bed?”

This morning I woke up and thought about my house swap curiosity. I imagined what it would be like to spend a week or a month in somebody else’s home—looking at their things, their pictures, wondering who they are and what they like to do. Reading the books they have on their shelves, listening to their CDs, tasting the food in their cabinets. Would I try to do some of the things that they enjoy doing while I am there? For example, there are a pair of snow shoes in the closet, snow on the ground outside and pictures of them on the walls with their smiling faces and snowshoes on their feet, then I should go out and try it—you know, in the spirit of the owners of the house.

Strangely enough, I was flipping through the channels and saw that some house swap reality show was on. In the show the two families trade moms for a week. I am not really that into reality TV, but I thought “What the hell?” and watched it. Of course, it’s a reality show so the producers are going to try to make it as interesting as possible. The two families who swapped were, of course, as opposite as two families can be. One family was strictly vegan family from California, and the other was a family from New Orleans. The New Orleans family kept alligators as pets, they hunt, they had alligator heads on their walls, not a vegetable in the fridge—you get the picture. Of course the vegan mom got all preachy and tried to get the alligator family into her way of thinking. Then the alligator family got offended by the vegan mom’s pushiness. Hell, even I was offended by the vegan mom’s snarkiness about the alligator family.

So, now that I am thinking about it, I wonder what kind of family I’d end up with if I ever went on this show. Obviously, in the interests of drama, it would be a family that would be entirely opposite of who I am. So, who would that be? I would probably end up with a very religious family, because I am not at all religious, that doesn’t like the outdoors. I would probably end up with a neat-nick family, or one that’s entirely into organic food—because my house isn’t always all that neat, and I do not go in for the whole organic food movement. I would probably end up in a house that uses styrofoam for everything, while I am a bit of a recycling nazi and literally fantasize about ways to eliminate things like styrofoam from my life. Oh, and they’ll probably expect me to cook and they’ll likely go hungry in that week.

While I am off stepping into someone else’s life, another woman would have to step into mine. Who would that be? Again, the exact opposite of me. This woman would probably have a blast for the entire week—Todd would make sure of that. But with Todd’s luck, she’d probably hate boats, won’t know how to swim, be afraid of dogs, and doesn’t like the outdoors for fear of getting dirty. I can just see how it’ll go down:

Todd: Do you dive?
Woman: No, I can’t swim.
Todd: Wanna go to the beach?
Woman: No, too much sand.
Todd: Wanna go on a hike?
Woman: Ew! There’s probably bugs carrying rabies there.
Todd: Wanna take the dogs to the park?
Woman: Isn’t it muddy there?
Todd: Wanna go sailing?
Woman: Ew! Boats are damp.
Todd: OK, so how ‘bout we stare at this wall for the afternoon, then.
Woman: Great! I love doing that!

But then, I’d never get to go on a wife swap reality show. (Never mind the fact that I’d never sign up for that.) I doubt they’ll ever let someone on who would actually go along with the family for the week and do the stuff that they do without bitching about why their way of life is wrong. They probably wouldn’t take someone who would say to the family she’s staying with “Yeah, what the hell? I’ll wear a Burqa to the beach. You know, I’ve been trying to be more careful about sun exposure anyway…”

But no matter what I still dig the life I have over any I could try on for a week.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, that you can say that in all honesty is a fantastic compliment for both your husband and yourself!

March 20, 2008 at 11:17 AM  

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