Sunday, October 25th 2015
After a grueling blitz of high-demand juggling gigs (the immensity and cacophony of which defy description), come Sunday afternoon I’m finishing the last of face paint customers and tasting the “finish” line. Then suddenly like magic -TA DA- up shows my family. Daddy timed it perfectly, intersecting with me and bringing me joy just before I pack it in there at the world’s greatest technology school -M.I.T.- conveniently located in our proverbial backyard.
ClaraJane is ready for face paint. I may have painted a thousand faces lately but alas not my very favorite ones:
Gavin forgoes face painting by his Mamma today (*sniff*) and the boys wait patiently outside.
While the girls… you know:
Then get this, my kids are fired up to go to JUGGLING CLUB. It happens every Sunday afternoon at MIT, but you’d hardly know around my house ‘cuz my life is all Gigs n’ Kids, not actual communion with my Tribe or -god forbid- *practice.* But this day we’re already there, everyone’s game, so off we go. (Daddy departs for a “vacation” trip to the grocery store; more on that later.)
Sure enough my trusty associate JIM is there, a mathy-computer guy and absolute stalwart juggler. He is as devoted to juggling as I am to performing. We are so different yet enjoy a compatibility when it comes to juggling. Specifically I love to pass clubs, and he loves passing clubs in unconventional, tricky little mathematical patterns that I don’t even know what they are. (Blonde Card: pretty sure they’re called “3-2 count” and also “3-2-2 count,” on the off chance any juggler nerds are reading this.) The delight is; a) juggling outside of gigs at all, b) being able to do the patterns at all, c) how symmetrical these are compared to most traditional passing patterns, d) how balanced and lovely they feel.
I guess if you’re ‘holding up your end of a passing pattern and someone else is holding up their end with you, that is equilibrium at its best. Even if for just a few moments… (CRASH!) [Enter secret to juggling AND life HERE.]
Relatedly, most jugglers I know are nice, especially when it comes to juggling. (Unlike magicians for example) they are happy to share skills and tips. Eg;
Jim then suggests to the kids that there’s “no way” they could possibly get any of those colored boxes out of that cardboard display left haplessly in the environment. At M.I.T. Probably by some engineering students or something. You know, where the jugglers practice.
Kids at play:
Kids at work:
[Mom Note: I love in this photo how ClaraJane is retrieving exactly the color her brother is looking for next.]
Jim waits to see if I will (stop taking photos and) remember to resume passing.
For me, looking at this image is what I imagine A.D.D. to feel like. My attention is completely split and I don’t know where to focus; juggling on the left, kids on the right.
ClaraJane has the right idea. She shows signs of fatigue and accepts my offer to make her a “nest.”
That’s all our jackets with a girl inside (she immediately took off her own shoes and climbed in, wise that she is). The mess behind her is my bags of food, cast off costuming, juggling props and other essential detritus. (I had been so delirious upon arrival I had to eat sandwiches and rub my weary eyes before I could even imagine juggling. Apparently the company and environment piqued me plenty.)
Next a young man tries juggling some of the boxes. (Pfft; jugglers.) Gavin is thrilled and immediately pressed into service.
I love any exposure my kids get to other jugglers especially because naturally I don’t expect them to pick up interest in it on account of *me.*
Building all different configurations, Zev tosses the last box way up on to…
CRASH. The whole thing collapses.
I come to realize this lovely Zev guy is the son of my greatest mentor: Avner the Eccentric. (Last time I’d seen Zev in person he was a young boy at a juggling festival attending one of his father’s performance workshops; about 15 years ago. Now he’s all grown up and married and playing with… my son!)
If that isn’t enough, in walks Shoehorn -a colleague-friend and legendary saxophone tap dancer- all the way fresh in from Portland Oregon, by way of Denmark and Brooklyn, respectively. Just happened to be passing through, tonight, the one night I happen to be there.
It was so lovely to catch up with Shoehorn, and then he entertained my son questioning him through every instrument in his possession at the time (after performing all day no less):
VIDEO: Command Performance for Audience of One [15 seconds]:
Shoehorn then invited Gavin to experiment with placing his hand all the way *insiide* the bell of the sax while Shoehorn blew, and observe what happens to the note when Gavin puts his hand in or out. (In = higher, out = lower… but it was fascinating and awesome to witness.)
“This is physics,” Shoehorn said then added “Which is why we’re doing this at M.I.T.”
(“Mom why aren’t you recording this?” Gavin asked me. “Because my phone battery is dead and the best moments always happen off camera,” I reminded him.)
It was magical.
Meanwhile ClaraJane wanders maybe two steps afield from the practice area and finds herself in a corridor that is a gallery in homage to technology itself. “Wo-o-o-w, so cooool….!” she gushes.
It’s so late; past kids’ bedtime on a Sunday night late. They have to catch the bus in less than 12 hours. We take leave and beat our retreat for home. Back in the car the kids personally attend to a couple of props leftover from my day of gigs:
I ponder the richly textured childhood my kids are having, even if it is -by no coincidence- as bizarre as their mother. I also ponder how much trouble I might be in with Daddy, who has issued clear warnings against keeping the kids up past bedtime unnecessarily.
Turns out, a LOT of trouble. Almost as much trouble as he’d gone through preparing a beautiful meal for us that was WAITING when we arrived.
Yes I know the kids NEED their sleep, and it’s not cool to keep them up unnecessarily. Yet on this strange and wondrous evening, it was so… necessarily.