Thursday, October 11, 2012

Philadelphia

It's fall in Philadelphia.  Real fall, with crisp cool air, leaves on the ground, kids pulling on jackets as they head for school early in the morning.  Halloween decorations are coming out, summer clothes are getting packed away.

As with every trip to Philadelphia, this one has brought a mix of joys and sadnesses.  Joys:  the simple pleasures of meeting friends at the local coffee shop, watching things hum along at the circus school, visiting familiar places with the kids, shopping at the co-op.  Sadnesses:  continually seeing how much things have changed and grown in my absence, and trying to imagine where my family and I would fit into this world, if we were still here.  Another sadness is seeing friends who are coping with major life events - births, deaths, weddings, divorces - and not being there for them.

So, it's a roller-coaster, which I'm entirely out of practice with.  During Philadelphia weeks I sleep poorly, eat terribly, and don't exercise.  I fall back into the role of businessperson, of administrator, director, teacher, organizer (and, of course, of scatterbrained / distracted mom).  I'm using all kinds of parts of my brain that are dormant in my Totem life, and it is exciting and exhausting.

The Philadelphia School of Circus Arts remains the focal point of my energy.  It is a place of dreams.  My own, and somehow, entangled throughout, the dreams of many, many other people.  How did I get so lucky?  During this trip I came across my old business plans, written in December 2006.  I remember that time... I was pregnant with Isa, and unable to do much teaching or business-growing, so, I enrolled in some classes at the Wharton Small Business Development Center.  It's astonishing to look back at the business reports of that time. Air Play LLC was running a total of 11 classes per week, over at 6122 Greene Street.  I was strategizing to buy a building in 2007 - having no realistic idea of what a building would cost.

Now, in 2012, we are running 118 classes per week.  There are  nearly 30 people on payroll.  We are nearing the end of a 5-year lease on a commercial space, and need to expand into a larger facility.  In the meantime, circus education grows at a rapid pace throughout the USA.  There are circus schools, youth circuses, teacher-training programs, and professional organizations that never existed 5 or 10 years ago.  There are more circus companies, as well, making inroads into places like Fringe Festivals and Arts Festivals (like we did with PIFA in 2011).  Somehow, way more people are falling in love with circus, and pursuing careers in it, than ever before.

As I've explained in earlier posts, PSCA feels like a "wheel turning without me, and I'll jump on whenever I can".  I just hope I can keep contributing little bits of good to the whole operation during these touring years, and that when are Totem days are over, Philadelphia will be the warm and life-fulfilling home we can come back to.

For now - we are continuing on our way.  Next week we will be in Disney World (!!!) our big family vacation for the year.  And after that we rejoin Totem for Atlanta, and then Miami.

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