I've been working on building a website. Or working with my excellent web-designer Charles Dye who is building it--and who is being so patient and accommodating throughout the process. He's made this whole thing a great experience, but more on that later. Last night my goal was to find whatever pictures I might have, stuffed in my boxes, stuffed in my storage unit, of my time in the circus.
If you've had as many incredible experiences as I have and you're a writer at heart, you can't not write about them. And I thought it would be fun to include some pictures from those days on my website. I don't have much. When I ran away from the circus, I left most everything behind. But in one box, along with a couple children's books and Bob Dylan's biograph record set, I found a scrapbook.
We made it for my mom and dad, back in the day, but apparently it came back to me. Of course this was a scrapbook and it was simply doing what a scrapbook is supposed to do, but I was struck by how representative it was of that time in my life. Most of it was various newspaper clippings charting various treks across the country, but here and there were photographs, a program showing the rundown of a performance, a coloring book I designed for a show, a route sheet showing exactly where we went and when. Tiny glimpses in newsprint of people I used to know. Ghosts of personal stories that were mine then and, as I write about them now, become mine in a new way.
I picked Stephen up from work at eleven. The night was cool for the first time in a couple days and we threw open the windows to finally get the heat out of the apartment, and we sat on the bed with the scrapbook. As I paged through, he looked and sometimes smiled and sometimes gave out this funny laugh that I've known him long enough to be able to read. I'd say, "Why do my pictures make you laugh in horror?"
Sometimes he'd say, "Well, clowns are scary."
And one time he said, of a showgirl picture, "Your legs look like sausages."
And then explained that it was only because I was wearing multiple layers of tights and they were taking away some of the shape of my legs and he said he'd worn multiple layers of tights before, too, and he knew what they do to legs.
But mostly he'd say that this person on the page--this clown in white face and red nose, this circus girl posing in her big hair--was someone he didn't know. He couldn't connect the me in the book with the me sitting next to him. It was strange for me to see, too. This person I used to be.
13 hours ago