I'm one of those therapists who asks what you liked to do when you were a kid.
Did you play Hopscotch? Casino and Spoons? Bounce or Fly? Tetherball? Soccer? Did you trade baseball cards? Beatles cards? Garbage Pail Kids? Did you go to the symphony? And I want the context, too, the feelings, who else was there, the good stuff.
The answers blow my mind.
Once a woman in her seventies told me that she wasn't very physically strong as a child. Whereas her sister could lift things, move furniture, mow the grass, run for miles, she was a light weight. She couldn't do anything.
"But surely you could do something for fun," I insisted, thinking along the lines of needlepoint here.
"Oh, sure. I did cheer-leading and baton-twirling. Those kinds of thing."
"Baton twirling!?!! Do you think you still can do that?"
"Well, sure, about as well as I ever could," she laughed.
There's a story.
A few weeks ago FD said to me, "It's our anniversary. Let's go out. We should celebrate."
Sure, I'm thinking. Mama Mia!
I whisper it. "Mama Mia?"
He lowers an eyebrow. "Streep? Musicals? I think we've been there. We saw that Garrison Keillor musical, A Prairie Home Companion. I don't want to go back."
I knew it. I knew I couldn't fool him into Mama Mia. "Cirque du Soleil?" I meekly suggest.
"Uh, haven't been to a circus since I was ten." He's looking frustrated with me, wants to get to work, his eyes are darting around for his keys, he wants to pack his lunch.
"Yeah, I know. I took the kids all by myself. Once. Once was all I could handle, kids at a circus. But this is no ordinary circus, dear, and there aren't any animals. It's all gymnastics and acrobatics, clowns."
"Maybe," he shrugs. "Find out the time, the cost. Have your people call my people."
I go to work, Google Cirque, get a phone number and shoot him an email.
8:00, United Center, Parking Lot K, 2.5 hrs with intermission. Cheapest tickets, $55. We can call it this year and next year's anniversary present, throw in a rototiller. There are plenty of seats available.He writes back,
Let's go!I can't wait. But how can I listen to people talk about their problems if I'm going to go to Cirque du Soleil in a couple of hours? And how can I not share that I'm going!? And how can we just go, all by ourselves, not share the experience with another couple?
Then it occurs to me. See if Empath One wants to go. Empath One and I share a suite. She's the one with the chocolate. That would be even more fun, going out with E-1 and R.
FD likes them, too. The thrill is just too much.
I wait for that rare moment that E-1 and I both have a break between patients and wander into her office. "E-1? What are you and your boy doing tonight?"
"Wanna' go to Cirque du Soleil? Starts at 8:00. Just in case you're wondering, the three weeks start this Sunday.* This is your last chance to live it up for awhile. FD will pick up falafel. We can eat on the way to the United Center. "
"I made dinner."
"But I want to go!" she cries. "Let me check with R. I'll get back to you."
I go back to work, reflect on the times patients have forgotten to pay me but have enlightened me about their vacations, especially trips to Vegas, home of Cirque du Soleil. I live vicariously through these patients. I have to. All of my vacations are family vacations. Not that seeing the kids doesn't beat the circus any day. And there are some similarities.
I'm not jealous, seriously. But how do you like that? It's here. Cirque du Soleil has come to me.
So I make some coffee, finish up the day, get on my horse and ride home against the wind. No matter how the wind blows during the day, when I have to ride my bike home, it turns against me. This is life. But I'm going to Cirque du Soleil.
FD has bought the falafel and is popping some corn. I shower up and change, try to look nice, he doesn't notice but that's okay because we'll be inside a circus tent soon!
And the show begins. And all I can think about, while I'm watching, is how my granddaughter would really love the trapeze, and my grandsons would love to try that high wire and the flips and the trampolines, and I'll have to remind all of them, after they see the DVD that I have to buy, not to stack the kitchen chairs way high to the sky or climb on the furniture, Daddy might get upset. And an accident could happen.
And I think about my septuagenarian, the woman who could toss and twirl a baton, who suffered so much depression as an adult, and I wonder about her, if she saw the juggler, oh, how she would love his act!
Click here for an overview of the show. (Warning, if you're not listening to music because it's the three weeks*, wait until after Tisha B'Av to watch these clips. They'll still be here.)
Here's another link to a not so ordinary circus, (no elephants or tigers).
The seesaw or do you call it a teeter totter act that you don't want your kids to see.
And finally, the link to Anthony Gatto's juggling act Unbelievable.
David Shiner, the director of Cirque du Soleil sums up the show in one word. Fun. So if you can catch it, I think it's here until August 26.
*About the three weeks.
Jewish people take upon themselves two fasts that bookend the three weeks, a much dreaded period of mourning. We dread it primarily because fasting in the summer is really hard (no food or water). But we're also afraid of your ordinary calamities. It's not a lucky day for us.
These fasts give new meaning to that Jewish joke, Oy am I toisty. which, if you're nice I'll tell over to you sometime.
Various prohibitions between the first fast, the 17th of Tamuz and second, the 9th of Av (Tamuz and Av are lunar months) include: No weddings and other festive gatherings, no hair cuts (some refrain from shaving), no music, no home decorating, no swimming, no shopping for clothes unless you get a really good deal.
So no Cirque.
The three weeks culminate with what is judged by all to be the worst day of the Jewish calendar, perhaps the single most worst day, historically, for the whole world. Examples of events on this day include,
587 BCE The First Temple is destroyed by the Babylonians under the rulership of Nebuchadnezzar.Everyone knows someone who suffered a loss, a freak accident, on the 9th of Av.
70 The Second Temple is destroyed by the Romans under the leadership of Titus.
135 Romans conquer Bar Kochba's last fortress, Betar, and destroy his army. The Roman Emperor Hadrian turns Jerusalem into a Roman city.
1290 King Edward 1st of England signs an edict expelling all Jews from England.
1492 Jews are expelled from Spain.
1670 The last Jews leave Vienna, following expulsion orders.
1914 World War I begins (Germany declares war on Russia on August 1, 1914).
1940 Himler presents his plan for the "Final Solution" to the Jewish problem to the Nazi Party.
1942 (5702) Nazis begin deporting Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto.
We always worry on this day. More than usual I mean.
And look upwards.
One down, one to go. You can wait to see Cirque du Soleil. It's okay.
For more on the three weeks check out Yutopia and Yid with a Lid
For a couple more reviews on Cirque du Soleil, read Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune and Foreman in Philadelphia
You can get lyrics to the music