Saturday, 14 February 2015

Chapter 64: Spreading the love

“I don’t know how on earth you stay at home with three kids, Lucy. I would go mad. How on earth do you keep your sanity?” asked the lawyer I’d just met. “Oh it’s simple” I replied “I just escape to the circus.” And she thought I was kidding...
But I’m not. And today, Valentine’s Day, is a great day to celebrate a love affair, and Lucy loves circus, that has saved my sanity over the past year, given me space to dream, to write and to connect. 

And at the end of this week, I’m feeling particularly loved up after a trip to the States to see one of my oldest and dearest friends, Linda. Three nights in Hillsborough, North Carolina with her and her family, the latest addition, Little Star, having arrived in the summer. Economy long-haul without kids, what a luxury. Nine hours spent sleeping and clearing dross from my iPhone. Over 2,500 photos went. It’s amazing what we hang onto, isn’t it? 

I arrived to beaming smiles and the warmest of welcomes, above all from Little Star. Her home town of Hillsborough is, like her, small with a mighty presence. Voted the most literary small town in America by the Wall Street Journal, it is a haven not only for authors and poets, but artists, jewellers, and all manner of creatives. And circus? Well, of course, circus is everywhere. The poster in my guest room, from the 1920s for starters. Home from home!

Food took on a filmic quality - we feasted on fried green tomatoes, slurped oysters, devoured shrimp and grits, and melted like marshmallows into cardomon hot chocolate. To work it off, we strolled around window shopping, wandered along the river and into the woods. Time, as ever in the company of babies, both suspended in the moment and yet flying by. A trip to the botanical gardens at Duke University followed by coffee at the Nasher Museum of Art opposite was a sanctuary of peace and tranquility, and a chance to pause for thought, but with Miró showcasing, again I couldn’t help but think the Fates were clowning around. 

And it so happened I met another bona fide circus-lover. How? Well, it was my birthday on the trip as well and we went for a birthday breakfast to a great cafe out of town called Johnny’s, all tablecloths and vintage china, more hipster than chintz, where the bright barista fixing up my Mayan Mocha turned out to have a birthday days apart. Of course, when Yaël mentioned her latest trip to Glastonbury, it was a small  jump to circus-talk. It turns out Yaël is an expert unicyclist and juggler, whose father had once informed her if all else fails, learn a skill and join the circus. Noted! We swapped contact details and now hooked up on Facebook and Instagram I'm sure we'll meet again one day. Building bridges and spreading the love. Welcome to the Age of Aquarius. Live, Love, Laugh, Let Go. This post is for you. 

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