Sunday, December 2, 2007
The other side of a moment of joy
When I was a kid there was a certain
anticipation in the air when the circus or the ambulating
amusement-park rolled in.
Some even had animals.
The came in the evenings.
Snuck into the town.
Parked their caravan of trucks and mobile homes in a park near the main street.
Sometimes we were awake when they came.
Those where nights we couldn't sleep.
Nights when we tried to sneak out.
To catch a glimpse of these mysterious people.
Hoping to hear a lion roar.
Spy on the circus princess.
Dreaming about joining them. Leave home, and go out in the world.
Walking on a tight-rope high above the heads of a mesmerized audience.
Quiet now. Absolutely quiet. Concentration. Adrenaline.
Is it us that have changed?
Or has time changed so much that the mystery
and the joy of a traveling amusement group is no longer?
Does it really tickle our children?
The children of today.
Kids with computer games so advanced that flying to the moon no longer seems that fantastic.
What can a 30 second not so amusing ride do for them?
The only animals being someone's guard-dogs locked into the back-seat of a truck.
And the squirrels, that are there anyway. Circus or not.
Has it just become a sad and desperate grab for quick money and a joyless experience
where nobody really cares if anyone has any fun.
A quick sugar fix without satisfaction.
I remember the melancholy of the last ride when I was a kid.
It was a sweet kind of melancholy.
Everything closing down. People rushing around to pack and take down tents
and then spend one last night before leaving.
They always stayed in their mobile homes.
But we heard laughs from inside.
When they counted their money.
Played cards. Got drunk.
Then someone would come out and piss in the open, against some nearby tree.
And quickly disappear back in again.
The next morning when we woke up they would be gone.
Like they'd never been there.
For a week or two we dreamed about becoming traveling circus artists.
We practiced acts in our back-yards. We tried to juggle bottles and walk on ropes we tied between
the rain gutter and the nearest tree.
Soon we gave up. We forgot.
But sometimes at night we lay in the dark fantasizing about the caravan
of mysterious people, somewhere on the road.
Promising ourselves that next year,
then, then we would be ready, and we would become one of them.
Following them out in the world.