Circus Space is shut for the holidays, so I used my night off this week to go back to my old pole class in Stockwell YMCA. It's been well over a year, and I was missing it increasingly. There is something steady about pole that makes other aerial circus apparatus like trapeze, rope or silks seem, well flighty. You can a rely on a pole to always be exactly where you left it. It's a strong, dependable support - you often use similar movements for rope and silk, but they flap around, any false move and they drop you like a stone. And the trapeze is a tease, you can take your feet off the bar, just don't expect it to be there waiting for you when you get back.
Pole with Anna kickstarted this whole circus journey (see The Polelogue). I remember how scared I was at first. Stripping off for starters. Not that I'm a prude, but well, a woman of a certain age who's had three kids ... I wouldn't want to inflict all that bare flesh on anyone else, it's just not seemly, is it?! Couldn't I just come for a one-to-one, I asked? Well, that was a bit precious, so instead I invested in a St Tropez tan for the first month or so to tone down the glaring white flesh. My mask. I remember the first few weeks clearly. Step with left leg, hook with right, fall back and spin. Or grind to a halt in my case. It took weeks and weeks to get the most basic of moves, but there was never any judgement, simply support and encouragement, and my mask slipped away.
I remember the first time I climbed to the top of a pole, touched the ceiling and the applause that followed - we all progress at different speeds, but I had got there in the end, hurrah! "We Are Young" by Fun. came on, and how my eyes creased with laughter, exhilaration and disbelief. There have been a few crashes since. And tears of frustration. Caterpillars, butterflies, mermaids and amazons are called forth and I'm still waiting for my metamorphosis. Has a year of circus made a difference? Well, yes, absolutely. I am relishing being stronger than ever and was utterly wired for a good 24 hours after the class this week with a couple of new moves under my belt, but disappointed to find a very real, and inhibiting, fear is still there. Fear of falling. Fear of pain. Which is why I will return again and again to this space that encourages me to believe the impossible is within my grasp. And grasp I will. Luckily Anna is now running a daytime class down the road in Morden that I can squeeze in once a week before the school pick-up - time to work harder! - but I will always have a soft spot for those YMCA nights with the girls, where it all began.
Rehab … it's good to be back!