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Circus Thoughts

It's been two months since I joined the circus :)

I'm starting to get a feel for circus life. It's not the same as traveling with a touring group, where the show ends on a set date and everyone goes their separate ways. Most people are here for the long haul...some families have even been here for generations. As a result of that, living here feels like being part of a large family or small neighborhood. Everyone looks out for each other whether they speak the same language or not, whether they're acrobats or floor crew or concessions. Of course everything's not always rosy and some people don't get along, but for the most part it's a really great environment.

Yesterday during load out I heard one of the teachers say that she can tell it's the end of the week because people are going home with other people's kids. She explained to me that as a parent living on a train, sometimes you just need a break from the kids and you can't very well hire a babysitter! So there are organized sleepovers or kids are watched by other parents on the train. I thought that was kind of nice.

Before buying anything here it's better to ask your neighbors if they have it, because like I said people here look out for each other and are willing to share :) A few days ago I wanted some Scotch tape and happened to mention that to someone sitting next to me on the bus. Right away several people said I could borrow theirs so I wouldn't have to buy any. While we were in Mexico City, people shared their drinking water freely so that no one would be without. And when there's a party in the yard, everyone brings whatever food or drinks they're willing to share and it gets cooked and chopped up and poured and shared with everyone :)

One thing I really tried not to dwell on was getting sick, but in the context of circus folks looking out for each other, I think it's worth mentioning.

During that whole ordeal (I was sick for like 4 days), it was amazing how many people took time to ask if I was ok. Even people I hadn't met yet, and even people who didn't speak english. They'd look at me hard and say "ok?" or just give me an eloquent look and a pat on the shoulder in passing. People offered to carry my stuff or pick up extra water for me. I was bombarded with all kinds of medicine and broth from various people.
That week really opened my eyes to what it means to live with the circus. Despite all its drama and disfuction, just like in a family, people here care about each other in a way they wouldn't on a 'typical' tour. I hope that I can return the same kindness while I'm here.

There's one other thing I've been thinking about.
I can't help but remember last year, especially the month of October.
Pardon my french...I worked so damned hard. I was working at Busch Garden's Howl O Scream, a candy store, Blockbuster, and an office job, and using a color-coded calendar to keep track of it all. It was the only way I could save money rather than breaking even. I really truly thought I'd be working like that for most of my life. Maybe there'd be a few tours or gigs in between, but I figured every time I took an opportunity I'd have to start all over again from scratch with a new set of hourly jobs.

In addition to last year, I look back at all the crazy jobs I've had and all the indecision and frustration and despair of never getting ahead. There was never a moment where I didn't have to be looking for the next job...never a time when I could stop thinking about whether I was doing the right thing. I look back, and it almost makes me want to cry. But all of those experiences led up to the one I'm having now. I won't regret any of it. Every hour at every dead-end minimum wage job, every moment of self-doubt and second guessing, has made this experience that much more precious to me.

It's only been two months here, but I've seen so much and been so many places that it feels like two years. Nothing I've done up until now compares with this gig.

Life is so unfair and so unpredictable...at any moment it might all disappear like a dream. There may come a day, sooner than I'd like, when I'll have to go back to working odd jobs to get by. Until then, I'm treasuring every moment!