Our three week break is over, and it was as busy of a time as we had expected. We drove from Ohio to Massachusetts, spending a week with my family, then down to Philadelphia for a week of projects (circus school work, flight school for Greg, and a show for Greg). Then we spent 5 days driving across the country.
This cross-country trip was as short as we could make it - we drove about 700 miles each day for the first 3 days, which was as much as we could manage around the kids' needs. Stayed in cheap motels, ate sandwiches in the car. This is not my idea of a good time, and we didn't do any actual sightseeing (just as well, as the national parks are all closed with the government shutdown!). But I was surprised by the kids' resilience - they were mostly very well-behaved during the long, long driving hours, and at rest stop breaks they would race around outside, rolling down hills and doing jumping-jacks. And we found little moments to see our own kinds of sights ... in Indiana we saw a beautiful rainbow coming down through the clouds; in Kansas, acres of giant, regal wind turbines; tumbleweeds; and at night, unbelievably starry skies. Driving through the Rocky Mountains was especially picturesque, and there was snow! (here is a picture of all of the kids badly dressed for the weather - we didn't have anything besides hoodies and sandals left out for our route to Southern California)
We arrived in Las Vegas on Saturday and had an afternoon on the Strip - Baz and I rode the roller coaster at New York New York, and we saw the fountain shows at the Bellagio - before dinner at the Rainforest Cafe (kids' favorite) and the evening out seeing Michael Jackson: One at Mandalay Bay. Baz was in rapture - he says it's the best Cirque show ever. I enjoyed the show, but it felt very mixed to me - some moments of greatness, but quite a lot of incoherence as well. Most breathtaking acts were the corde lisse, the omigod! hologram in "Man in the Mirror", and the glow suits.
While I'm at it, I should mention the two other shows I got to see during the break: Pig Iron Theatre's Pay Up!, and Cirque Eloize's Cirkopolis. I'm glad I got to see Pay Up! which is an older Pig Iron show revived for this year's Fringe Festival. It's a crazy experimental work where audience members are given five $1 bills at the beginning, and encouraged to walk around a space paying out their dollars to see various skits performed in different rooms. Throughout, there is comedy and commentary on what it means to spend, to lose, to miss out, to hoard, and to bargain.
I also really loved Cirkopolis, Eloize's latest production, which I think brings back their immense strength in ensemble performance. The cast members are all ridiculously multi-skilled, which allows for every piece to have strong group participation. (I always remember the plate-spinning moment from Nebbia, as an example of the beauty created by a mass chorus). In this show, standout acts included the sublime Roue Cyr, the comical high-energy Chinese Pole, a rocking corde lisse act, excellent German Wheel... I could go on and on. There were far more good acts than bad.
Three weeks away and I feel so far away from life on tour. One day, some of my work colleagues heard I was studying Russian, and they said, "say something in Russian!" I drew a complete blank. And it took me a while, later that night, to voice my thoughts in Russian again, to come back to that flow I have developed over these years. (it's a stuttering, grammatically-disastrous flow, but it is a flow nonetheless when I am hanging out with my Russian friends!) I realized that these two worlds are just so, so separate in my mind - when I'm in the middle of one, it's hard to believe that the other really exists. It's time to come back.