I left London last week, a decade of family life boxed into three storage containers, and I am now living out of a single suitcase. Thinking of James Thierrée* I half expect the suitcase to sprout legs and run off. No wifi, one bar of reception on the mobile, if we're lucky, and we are not sure of our date yet to set sail, but it is full steam ahead with preparations.
For many years, my husband and I have talked about sailing round the world and it is a love of boats that brought us together. We both rowed at university, the same position it turned out (Bow 3, The Powerhouse), we met years later at The Boat Race, and our honeymoon was spent sailing round the Caribbean, just the two of us. Since then life intervened and I have followed a crazy career path. Who could predict that, after working for five years as a chartered accountant and charities auditor at a Yanquee Imperialist Firm (Andersens - brought down by a few clowns at Enron), I would move a few doors down from their offices on The Strand to Kings College London to carry on with post-graduate research into the Marxist critical theory at play in contemporary Cuban theatre. The irony was not lost on me, nor on the still-suited partners (now part of Deloitte's) who I would bump into in the equidistant common ground of Caffè Nero, now clad in my jeans and trainers. And, in a further twist, to go from academia to juggling three children and part-time work to fund this full-time circus passion has been a real learning curve.
Still, nothing has quite prepared me for the rollercoaster of the past few months. A romantic dream to sail round the world with my family some time in the future is an altogether different proposition to "right, it's now or never" that has come to its climax over the past few weeks. I say nothing has prepared me, when actually there was something. Lunch with Sean Kempton one day after Shhh! circus cabaret, where he sat me down and talked through each one of my fears and reservations, playing devil's adddvocate in a way that only a clown can. A clown who has travelled the world and a fellow parent. It struck me then that being part of the circus ecosystem has been invaluable, and maybe the best preparation of all. There is the intuitive understanding of how travel broadens the mind and makes the whole world Kin, and thanks to social media I feel part of a wider international community, with friends there to welcome us virtually in any port in the world. Writing this blog I have developed a strong sense of self too: "word painter" is how Thom Monckton described me. I like that. And the past few years of aerial training has well-equipped me for the heave-ho of ropes and clambering up masts, both in terms of developing upper body strength and a head for heights.
Still, it is a strange sensation to leave London, a city I love above all others, and which I know so intimately, appreciating it from so many different perspectives. In fact, it is love for London and the people in it that inspired the name of this blog. Knowing I would one day leave, for years I have been steeling myself, and set up a private Instagram account called LucyLovesLondon, a scrapbook of family moments and friendship that I could look back on and smile. So when I started this circus diary, LucyLovesCircus seemed a logical choice. Love for me is not a saccharine-sweet endorsement that LucyLovesEverything. Love is an act of resistance, a statement of intention to carve out a positive space in the world. Love gives the artist courage to step out in the sawdust arena and bare their soul. Love engages. Love dares. Love risks. Love is the endgame. And Circus is a Ring of Love. Infinite. Diverse. Inclusive. So this is not the end of the blog, nor of my circus adventures, but the pace will slow down now, probably to about 5 knots an hour. Bear with with me, and I'll be sure to keep you posted, as and when I can. After an afternoon running away off to the circus (see post), now yours, in nofit state to set sail, Lucy.
*When James Thierrée brought The Toad Knew to Sadlers Wells in May, he talked afterwards about how, as part of his parents' Cirque Imaginaire, he and his sister would be carried on stage by their father, each in a suitcase, then when plonked on the ground, they would pop out their legs through holes in the bottom and run away.