I don't know how I haven't mentioned this blip in my life before. I suppose when we live with ourselves 24/7 we become accustomed to either how droll or, conversely, how outrageous our lives are. And Toots, my life used to be outrageous.
I was a wild one not so many years ago. Full of uncontrollable fire, destructive urges, lawless endeavors, and flagrant relationships... and that was when I was at my very best. But boy, it was fun as hell though it eventually resulted in the same. He found me on the curb in front of a tavern on a fourth of July night. He was in town for a few short days rigging the ropes behind the scenes for the circus and he really liked my dress. I was a glutton for catastrophic impulsivity and so within short succession we took a cab, spent the weekend together, and started a tumultuous three year relationship. Spell check just automatically changed "tumultuous" to "tumorous" which in hindsight, I suppose would also be accurate.
While dating I activated and promptly maxed out three credit cards, jumped on a plane, and flew to meet the Ringley/Barnum/Bailey train while it was stopped for a week in Denver. I say this like it was nothing because at the time, my life was a fantastical Wes Anderson movie. And so, it was really nothing. I pulled into the dusty train lot, found the car number, and greeted my carney and we headed down the corridor to his cabin. Popular opinion of show life is incorrect, so allow me a moment to rain on your parade: when it comes to the circus, there is no splendor, color or flair. In fact, it is quite the opposite. Each car runs amok with perversion, grime, vulgarity, and renegades. But at the time I didn't care; this made it even more of an adventure.
There were two separate sections of the seemingly endless train: the "Talent" and the "Stagehands". They were kept more or less apart and from what I can tell neither party much liked the other. The Stagehands found the Talent pompous, entitled, and egotistical. The Talent found the Stagehands dirty, crass, and menial. From my brief observations, both sides were pretty damn accurate. The Stagehand train I stayed on was cramped and chaotic. Though The Carney was an exception, it seemed like almost every other person looked like Snoop Dog. They all played "bones", drank cheap vodka, did a myriad of drugs, had copious amounts of sex, kept bats behind their door for "intruders" and reveled in their vagabond lifestyle. Their rooms were more like stunted hallways, maybe 40 square feet maybe more, but it sure felt like less. There was just enough room for a sink, storage, and a tiny square table that would fold up against the wall so you could then unfold the narrow bed. It was cleverly designed to maximize space, but unfortunately there wasn't much to be maximized. I reveled in the chaos of this train and the madness of the traveling folk. I loved the castaway lifestyle and I adored the people I met.
One of these people was the sullied next door neighbor whom we can call for niceties sake: Victor. Victor was a chef on the circus' food car and galley; he was in his late 50's, and had a colloquial habit of using the aforementioned cheap vodka to forget his multiple failed and tragic relationships. Of course, we became fast friends. After we dropped The Carny off at the Denver Coliseum, we would go back to the cabin and listen to music, commiserate about life, and prepare for meals. This brings me to my reason for writing this long-winded story. Dinner that Wednesday was to be prosciutto sandwiches and an elaborate salad. As I was preparing the latter Victor observed my clumsy technique for cutting carrot sticks. Chef that he was, it outraged him and he reprimanded me repeatedly. "You'll fucking hurt yourself doing it that way, trust me. I know." He would explain how to hold the carrots properly and then use the knife in a way that would spare your fingers from the potential hand slicing. I would laugh and tell him that I knew what I was doing. Have you seen me cut myself yet? I would ask while he sat there exasperated with my naivete. We would then go back to our conversation about his ex-wife that swindled him out of his profitable restaurant and repeat the next day while I was cutting tomatoes. "You'll fucking hurt yourself doing it that way, trust me. I know." This would always be greeted by my disregarding smile until the day I actually did cut myself. He was right, but I laughed it off. I didn't realize the weight that this warning carried.
The rest of the week was spent in debaucherous wonder. I met the llamas and dancers while I watched the riggers lift weights. I saw the show from the front row so I could see The Carney suspend the acrobats from the sidelines. I spent the days in tattoo parlors and museums and when night fell I played board games with the friends on the next car over and huddled around the fire pit afterwards. The ugly seemed insightful, the traumatic was electrifying, the grime was beguiling and painting the town red always seemed like the proper thing to do. It was all so twisted and magical... just how I wanted it. The week ended with a discovery of infidelity on The Carneys phone and a volatile argument minutes before I left for the airport. You would think that this would have ended the relationship, but I was still on my riotous high and so I chalked it off to acrimonious charm. Fool that I was.
Home, I continued to invest all of my time and energy into the relationship even when he became a "sailor" on a cruise ship. He had lost his circus job due to drunken impropriety and this discharging would repeat itself as he would hop from one carnival-esque gig to the next. All the while, my family and friends would frown and beg me to abandon the toxic relationship that resulted in me miserably confiding my woes and suicidal ideations. I ignored their warnings; I knew what I was doing. He will change his alcoholic ways I would say. He will curb his sexual addictions I would say. He will stop yelling over the phone when I disagree I would say. He will stop manipulating my every move I would say. He has so much potential, I just need to bring it out I would say. They would shake their heads and throw their hands up while I continued to disregard their warnings. When he moved to China for another show, I started preparing to visit Macau. My illogical "heart" told me that I could teach English there, we could live an audacious life together content with our reckless abandon. This ended abruptly when I found out about more infidelity, this time it was so hurtful that we ended it for good. His "new" girlfriend ended up moving to Macau instead and I bitterly watched from afar as the relationship quickly dissolved. He was destined to fail at every relationship he had and it was only years later when I looked back at the violently wonton relationship that I was able to hear my friends and family's message: "You'll fucking hurt yourself doing it that way, trust me." They knew.
I now have a loyal and warm-hearted Him that errors on the side of safety and caution though he does have the ability to be silly and fun. This prudence would have been a turn off years ago, but now I welcome it with open arms and sloppy kisses. I blindly disregarded the warnings from those that were close to me because I thought I knew better. Even though countless relationships like mine had achingly failed before, THIS one would be different. I just knew it.
Regrets? I do have a few. But I am also grateful that I made the majority of expected mistakes within a relationship that was destined to fail anyways. This being said, I think that I could have spared myself a comparable amount of heartache and pain if I were to have taken the advice of those who had experience in this thing called life. I guess you can just chalk my whole struggle off to a lesson well learned, but don't you let my pain go in vain. When trustworthy friends and family take the time to say "You'll fucking hurt yourself doing it that way, trust me. I know." just give it a moment of thought. I daresay it might be worth it.