Since you asked:

"Therefore, to be possess'd with double pomp, to guard a title that was rich before, to gild refined gold, to paint the lily,
to throw a perfume on the violet, to smooth the ice, or add another hue unto the rainbow, or with taper-light
to seek the beauteous eye of heaven to garnish, is wasteful and ridiculous excess."

~William Shakespeare,
ca. 1595

Yup, that's us.

March 28, 2011

Under the Big Top...

My daughter surprised me the other day at the store with a note prefacing something she wanted to show me. In the note, she explained that although she knew I wasn't wild about tattoos, she liked them as a way to contain her memories and keep them with her.

She also wanted to think of something special about her relationship with me, and what she remembered and loved most about me. The two things she landed on were something from my past, and Gilding the Lily. She told me that they represented to her my adventurous spirit, and what I had created in the store and its ever growing community of creative women. Hence, the elephant....

...holding a lily in its trunk.

You may be asking yourself what these two things have in common. For Nathalie, they are an expression of my past and present. You see, I once ran away and joined the circus.


It was an old fashioned, big top circus, and at the time was the biggest show under canvas in the world. I joined my friend Brandon and we lived like gypsies in a trailer, and traveled the length and breadth of the United States, moving every few days. We ran a concession, worked like dogs, but made good money selling Coca Cola. Business was brisk when the weather was hot, and when it was cold, I would sneak behind the popcorn vendor and give it another shake or two of salt...

It was an international community, and my neighbors were from all over the world. I lived cheek to jowl with South American chimpanzee trainers, Czechslovakian performers, tigers, wild Andalusian stallions they finally had to geld, the bears I loved so much (especially Cindy, the cub in the little ruffled skirt), and of course, the elephants. For, besides slinging cokes and running the water for the show, I also rode the elephants in 'spec.' Short for spectacular, this was the start of each show, a parade of every performer, and many of the animals, once around the three rings inside the tent.

My friend and I were fitted for costumes, and ran before each show to the menagerie tent, where we put on our headdresses (14 pounds, no less) and climbed up on the elephants knees when they knelt down at the trainers command. One then grabbed the harness at the back of their heads, and at another command, up they went, and you'd better be ready to sling yourself over their neck and tuck your legs behind their ears. We worked hard on perfecting our waves, and in general, had a helluva good time.

It was an experience I'll never regret, and never forget...for the people, and what I learned in those two years of working in another world. And evidently, neither will my daughter. Funny, when I was doing it, I never thought it was role model material...

13 comments:

susanc said...

How totally cool! :D

Sherry Goodloe said...

What a great story and MEMORY Nancy! *Big Top Smiles*

Jane Perala said...

That is so neat! I love your story, and the fact that you followed your dream. The tatoo is fantastic, and what a great daughter.

Deborah Adams,Long Beach, California. said...

How cool is that?!!! Magic! :-) ~ Deb

Tami Hichman RELICS JEWELRY said...

I love it Nancy!! I get you even more now... The amazing vintage Feathers and trims, the creative fun atmosphere. The fun "Big Top" spirit is still alive at Guilding.

Dede Warren said...

How completely endearing Nancy... both your colorful, sassy past and the commemorative tattoo of Nathalie's. Still waters run deep in you dear friend; I have suspected as much all along!
{wink}

GarterMademoiselle said...

Will you ever cease to amaze me, my friend?? You once lightly skimmed the surface about your adventurous past, but I don't think I grasped the depth of it then! Wow, I am in total awe of you, especially your wild side. Is that something that you can teach me! Love Nathalie's tatoo, and her reasons behind it even more. Best of all in this story - the old photo of you!!! Fantastic. Now I am off to show this post to the rest of the gang here, they will love it too. hugs, ~D

Lisa Loria said...

Well, that is a heck of a story!
I LOVE IT! What a Wild Woman you are Ms. Nancy!!! Fabulous!
Hugs, Lisa

Just a Girl said...

I love your blog, and your story is fantastic! It sounds like something right from a book! :o)

Did you further know that in many cultures, an elephant with its trunk lifted up is a symbol of good fortune? Your daughter's tattoo is beautiful, what an original idea, and how neat that it will always be a reminder of her mother.

I am currently getting my own new blog going, and would love it if you'd stop by sometime. :)

~Just a Girl

geri said...

i met natalie on my first visit to the gilded lily! i was immediately drawn to her down to earth mellow way. she was so very patient with my indecisiveness and so likeable. we talked and talked, she shared her sketches with me(so talented)and it actually came up that you rode an elephant in the circus when you were young. i thought it was so cool. i mean really, who can say their mom was in the circus! great story, great kid and great tatoo! love it!!!!

Melissa said...

I read that entire post with my mouth completely open. What a story!!!

Melissa

Kelly Snelling_Soulhumming.typepad.com said...

i simply adore you and yours!

BellaLunaArts said...

It all makes so much more sense now my friend...much LoVe to you and your sweet Nat. XO Bridgette