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3.6
October 6, 2019

All the Women I Used to be & the art of Leaving. {Chapter 1}

*Editor’s Note: This piece is part of a series—lucky you. Head to the author’s profile to continue reading. 

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I stand in checkered slacks and a tan bra blowdrying out my new fringe bangs in the bathroom mirror. They hang over my eyes in a fresh yet familiar way.

I inhale. This is the last one. And exhale.

Heading out the door, I take one last look in the floor length mirror at my heels and all black outfit. I look chic. Confident. Not anxious or shaking—a noticeably different takeaway from every other last minute glance out the door I can remember.

After nearly four years of traveling with this big top Cirque Du Soleil show, tonight is my husband’s last premiere here in Sydney, Australia.

I step out in front of our apartment and signal a cab in a big way—in a way that I did not have access to three years ago standing on the roaring curbsides of New York City. But in a way where my Aussie friend Karina might interject the phrase, “you’ve got to risk it for the biscuit.” So I step all the way out and catch the next cab in sight.

Sliding across a leather bench seat, I tell the driver, “Entertainment Quarter, please.”

I remember one of my yoga teachers explaining that our asana practice, the physical postures, are just a continuation of something that’s been done time and time before, and we are just slipping into the ancient groove of an ancient form. Tonight feels a lot like that. A lot like slipping into the groove of my own story.

Premiere night is a ritual, one that I’ve done 18 different times in 18 different cities. So tonight, as I walk through the familiar motions realizing it is the last one for this show, I slip into comparison with all of the women I’ve been before now on all of the previous premiere nights. All of the outfits and shapes of my ever-changing identity. All the weight of wine, cigarettes and raw hard insecure moments have led to this woman sitting here in the back of this cab.

Soak it in. I tell myself in a simple and unphilosophical way.

The greying Aussie driver drops me at the curb carefully as if I were his own daughter saying, “have a good night, darlin’. Take care.” I walk to the echo of my own footsteps against concrete coming around the corner to our white and grey big top. The reason for all of this traveling. The crown jewel of our home away from home where Michael plays cello. She is draped in flood lights and rolling red carpet lined with local flora. She is an alter with the words Kurios cabinet de curiosities hanging at the entry way.

I used to collapse here. I used to tilt with wine brain and a million expectations about who I was supposed to be here. But not tonight. Not for 912 nights now. I am clearheaded. I am in my own body. 

I will never forget that first night I showed up at the circus almost four years ago. When everything split into before and after. When my life turned into coming and going out of cities and phases. Like an M.C. Escher painting where you aren’t quite sure what you’re looking at until you’ve had enough time to see that up is down, the big top circus life did not reveal itself at first, and like most things, once we finally understand them, it’s usually time to say goodbye.

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Jacqueline Hathaway Levin  |  Contribution: 5,070