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running away with the circus (looking for dolphins)

There are three of them, a brazen woman with bright eyes and a big voice, a man going grey with a hop in his step and a younger woman who might be their daughter or their niece that twists her short hair into little tufts. They roam the hotel, sometimes in elaborate costumes, letting us know that there will be a secret dance party near the ballroom in an hour.

The older woman strolls in during dinner in a costume of blinking Christmas lights and exotic face paint. V stares up at her, convinced she is a princess or a fairy or maybe both. The next night, she is all in black, great horns wobbling on her head. She always has a pair of black Converse high tops on, as if they go with every costume or maybe they are the only shoes she owns.

The man is typically dressed as a pirate, in a striped shirt, maybe an eye patch. He is perfectly relaxed, like his limbs are made of silly straws. The younger woman is always smiling, her mouth a wall of metal braces and lip gloss. I imagine they sleep …

white



The metro is thick with people pressed against each other taking taking penguin size steps towards the escalators that chug slowly down. Men smell like piles of sliced onions left out on counters, of aluminum and ozone. Women smell of cigarettes and rose sweet perfume.
I keep E just in front of me, hands on her shoulders.

There is a row of ads hanging from the curved ceiling. We have an ongoing game, describing them to each other.
"Lady in a bikini." She announces.
"Cheap computer." I add.
"A lot of chocolate." She says.
"Words about insurance." I say.
"Dolphin." She says.
We pass one spot where the ad has been removed, or has fallen down.
"Invisible." She says, cracking herself up.

All at once she is yanked against the wall of the escalator. I grab her, and pull her away. She is eyeing me, too scared to say anything. I see the zipper from her pocket is bent. There are holes in the wall, and she must have leaned against one of them and got her zipper stuck in it. I am furious, adrenaline pressing through my forehead. The person behind us says nothing. I keep E in the middle of the escalator until we reach the bottom.

As we make our way to our platform, she squeezes my hand. She is already forgetting what happened. I am turning it over, wondering if every single escalator in every metro is like this one. There are old women in uniforms at the foot of each one, in tiny glassed-in booths with surveillance cameras. Most of the time they look like they are sleeping.

There are places I never thought existed when I lived in New York.
There are people beyond my narrow imagination.


I watch E's face, as we shuttle towards our stop. She is still innocent, already accepting the scrape with danger. We all want to be trusting and naive, I remind myself. No one really wants to know everything that they know.

I think of Dick Rogers, cracking jokes at me when I was in film school studying critical theory on the side. He would spot me far down the hall, and raise an arm in the air shouting "Foucault! Foucault! Foucault!". It was a joke, a jab at my fascinations. He studied the same books and we spoke about them sometimes in low voices.

"You know, we can't all wear white." He told me during one of my critiques. "At least not all of the time."
He understood that even as a young man I did not ever want to be betrayed, to never know disappointment.







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