The Circus

31/Jan/2011

We’ve practiced this routine for years. Perhaps not exactly as performed, but we’ve spent years slowing building to this precipice. I know my partner is standing on the platform. I know my pole awaits. I am as prepared as I’ll ever be as I climb the steep set of narrow stairs one after another.

My feet dangle on the narrow step, my heels hanging off abrupt edges. If there was wind in the arena, I would feel it brushing the bottoms of my feet as I walk higher than air.

I dare not glance down. I dare not look up.

The lights dim and I take my place. My partner smiles on the other side of the wire, on his own platform. We lock eyes. It is time.

They hand me my pole, I steady myself as I’ve been taught. I find a balancing point, slide my foot forward and regroup. I re-balance. I hear a gasp from the audience as I waver, only a moment, only once. I am solid. I visualize all the times I made it across the tiny wire. I visualize my feet gripping to stabilize. I lock eyes with my partner as he is handed his own pole, his own weights, his own balance.

We begin to move together.

More weights are giving to us, one at a time, to one side and then another. We rebalance, we lock eyes, we smile. People are amazed, or I imagine them being so. We tune out the music, we tune out the lights. We focus, straining, to stay in tune. Balancing, wavering, steady.. steady…

It is at this point in the performance I reach my limit. I realize one more spec, one more twinge, one more slight breeze would knock me down. I dare not look down. I dare not think. Instead I repeat in a mantra, “I am grateful, I am steady, I am whole.” Forward I inch. Forward he moves. We near the middle and then…

One small expectation unmet, one tiny negative thought, the hug from a friend when my eyes began to mist. One tiny brush of wind and I’m down. I hear a collective gasp, I see the pole fall to the right as I tip to the left. It is only a moment but time slows and I fall, fall, out of my partners gaze out of my routine. I fool nobody as I grasp for my last location, reaching, scrambling, unable to go back.

The net, thank god for the net, bends under my weight magnified by gravity. It recoils twice and I’m back in a small bounce.

The show must go on.

I climb the narrow steps, my heels hanging off abrupt edges. If there was wind in the arena, I would feel it brushing the bottoms of my feet as I walk higher than air.

I dare not glance down. I dare not look up.

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Comments

  1. I’ll be part of the net, k?

    XOXO

    By VDog on 2011 01 31

  2. Did I mention, I am deathly afraid of heights?!?  But, I read on…because, I heart you that much!  [gives good standing ovation]

    By Liz @thisfullhouse on 2011 02 01

  3. I’m glad you have a safety net and all, but this sounds like a miserable way to do life! Are you okay?

    By laura on 2011 02 01

  4. You are such a lovely writer, and also such a lovely person and I love you.

    By syd on 2011 02 01