It is funny how memories shift and fade over the years. Some memories are so vivid and tangible, while others lurke – a shadow of faded vision just out of reach. These memories seem to me to be just out of focus – the edges blurred so it is hard to tell between reality and dream. Sometimes I wish my brain had a fine tuned focus knob so that when I latch onto one of these memories I could bring it strong and clear to the front of my brain.
As Paul and I were driving to the LaCrosse game we passed by the brilliant blue and yellow circus tents set up on the Water Front.
“I wish we could all go to the circus some time,” Paul mentioned as we drove past.
A memory instantly began teasing my brain of some fuzzy long distance, once upon a time. Hadn’t I gone to a circus once? Nah, it was a dream, but then the memory slowly focused just a bit and I remembered enough detail, some funny insignificant detail, that let me know that it was a long lost memory indeed.
I don’t recall what grade I was in when we went on the fieldtrip, but I was very young, so I am guessing 1st or 2nd grade.
The bus ride was long as we drove some distance, probably Pittsburgh. As we came off the freeway I saw a big huge white building. “That can’t be the circus, there are supposed to be tents,” I thought to myself.
Just as we passed the building, bright colorful tents popped up and a thrill of excitement shot through me. I clutched my brown paper bag lunch and exited the bus in a throng of students. I was very excited about my lunch becaus it had one of those short juices with the bumpy sides on it and foil for a lid. There were also Combos in my lunch – those little pretzly snacks with filling in the middle. I distinctly remember that mine were Pizza flavor. This was a rare and special occasion in deed as trying to raise five children on a farm finances were tight and such luxeries in our lunches occured rarely. Though there were usually a plentiful supply of home made cookies in our lunch, so I can’t complain to much. Anyway, back to the story.
The tent was huge. It was so big that it didn’t even feel like a tent and I was amazed at how they had stairs taking us high, high up. We were in the peanut gallery, and I always wondered why we didn’t get peanuts.
There were two acts I remember distinctly. All my short life, up until that moment, I always wanted to see someone shot out of a cannon. That was what defined a circus to me – there had to be a guy flying out of a cannon. How loud that cannon was! I cheered as I clapped my hands on my ears, laughing as the guy sailed through the air.
Then there was the tightwire motorcycle act. The tightwire went right over our heads. The motorcycle drove slowly across the wire getting closer and closer. Then a beautiful lady in a sparkly silver costume descended from the motorcycle, clenching the rope (or whatever it is called) with her teeth. She began the most beautiful arial ballet right above our heads. I was in awe as I watched her spin and dance in the air. I couldn’t believe how she was able to hang on just by her teeth!
I am fairly certain I played circus for weeks afterwards.
I love how forgotten memories are triggered by the smallest things, and sometimes things that have nothing to do with the memmory. I always greet them with a smile and hug to an old friend. Then I quickly write them down before they slip away again…