My grandmother passed on her love of costumes and pranks to my mother. My mother added her own questionable sanity to the mix, by habitually showing me foreign language movies before I’d learned to read very well; so she would read me the subtitles. My mother and father and I watched La Strada when I was about 6 or 7. The sadness and darkness of the movie was somewhat lost on me, but I distinctly remember the clowning and street performances of Gelsomina and Zompano.
Then in 1989, Cirque du Soleil came to Chicago in a little tent on North Pier. My mother and I went and, if I hadn’t been hooked before, I was then.
In 2007, Una was born, and the fourth generation of circus lovers was among us. For years Una, Eric, and I have all taken my mother for her birthday to see Midnight Circus in the parks.
And now, every Saturday, Una can perform with a circus troupe of her own—a diverse band of motley, talented youth at CircEsteem. What luck! My mom and I whisper and gasp in suspense and pride now, instead of whispering subtitles. I only wish my grandmother were here to paint the picture.