I applied for a job in the circus today. It’s been eleven years, almost to the day, since I left, but I still check the job listings, daily, weekly. It was the right choice, then – when I left, why I left. Even if I hadn’t had a project to move on to, two years and seven months on the road is a long time. But I can’t get over the feeling that I left a piece of myself behind, and I can’t stop trying to go back to find it.
The circus has always been the job I would drop anything, everything for. I’ve done it once. Let go of my daydreams, let go of the life I had started to build. This is the first time I’ve been conflicted. The first time I think that, in the theoretical world where they offer me the position, I might not take it. And I think I might be writing off that lost piece of myself for good. And I’m not sure I know who I am anymore.
I’m thirty-six, not twenty-two this time. Am I too old for this? I have a nephew on the way, the first child of my family’s next generation. I missed years of my goddaughter’s life. Will I miss his, too? I have a cat I’m far too attached to. Do I leave him with my mother? I have a job I struggled for years to get. Do I walk away?
For how long?
Will there be anything to come back to?
I feel like, if I run away now, that’s my choice forever. If I go out on the road, I will have to stay on the road and make my life there.
I have been torn between wanderlust and a longing for stability for fourteen years. The life I have built for myself now walks the tightrope between the two – short contracts, in two or three of the same places, over and over. Movement and stability.
Do I throw away who I am now to find a piece of who I was then? The lost fragment of my twenty-two-year-old self?
Is it time to grow up?
Do I have to?
I’ve started writing about those years of my life, the circus years. Well, started again. For the fifty-first time. I finally feel like I have enough distance from them to be able to look back and understand. And maybe that’s the whole problem. The distance. And the writing. Dredging up the memories of that twenty-two-year-old, who loved the circus life even if she wasn’t always happy there.
Because I remember the loneliness too.
And while I’m not nearly as shy or as awkward as I was then, I’m still me. No matter how far I travel, no matter what countries I visit, I’m still me. Too much me. And growing more me the older I get.
So what do I do, if they offer it to me? And it doesn’t actually matter that I won’t even get an interview, let alone the job. Somehow that question is the key to understanding who I am and what I want out of life. And right now I really don’t know the answer.
Or maybe I do. I just don’t like it.