the greatest show on earth

When I was a kid, I always woke up right away because I was excited about today’s adventure. I remember the sun peering into my room and waking up feeling happy. It’s not always like that anymore, but today carried those same light, happy feelings. Like that childhood innocence, I was able to live much like my younger self by going to the circus.

It’s this certain kind of nostalgia that hits you when you relive your past. There’s a sense of joy because you remember those vibrant memories that impacted your life and there’s a tinge of bittersweet because they aren’t the same memories as your more younger and vulnerable days. This type of nostalgia was especially strong attending the last Ringling Brother’s and Barnum & Bailey Circus.

When the news broke that this would be their last year traveling the country performing acrobats and daredevil stunts, a certain sadness washed over me. I hate endings and am terrible at saying goodbye. I always try to prolong a conversation so I won’t have to say goodbye and part from people I love and warm events I’ve enjoyed. I hadn’t attended the Ringling Bros. circus or even been to a circus since I was 5 years old, but the acknowledgment of an end made me sad. I wanted to watch this show one last time before its end and got the rest of my family to watch with me.

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We headed to the Buzz City early morning to catch the 11 o’clock show. It was a beautiful chilly morning with a clear sky. My dad told me he wanted to catch the early show so it wouldn’t be crowded because the Bible Belt population would be attending church than the circus. I thought ‘smart’ and enjoyed the drive with this lazy Sunday morning drive and Arcade Fire playing on the radio.

When we arrived, it was already packed with lots of people who I bet were trying to enjoy The Greatest Show on Earth one last time. When I saw the souvenirs and toys, it made me smile thinking how years ago I used to have one of those light up toys with the spinning top and how happy that toy alone made me.

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We were lucky enough to get $20 seats and a pretty good view despite being up so high. We could still enjoy the intergalactic entertainment and circus mischief from above. There were ice skaters from different planets zooming around the arena, astronauts from space, trapeze acts from daring heights, clowns that made us smile from silliness rather than afraid of them trying to kill us, fire acts awing us, trained tigers following their trainer’s command, acrobatic acts flying through the air, and two circus masters that travelled the galaxy to find performers to have the greatest show on earth.

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For one last time, the show delivered in entertaining. But that nostalgia feeling hit. It was great to be happy like a little kid with the amazing acts and talents you don’t see every day, but it was sad to know this was it and that it wasn’t as thrilling or lively as I remembered it. It was a circus with its continuous odd acts being performed, but it wasn’t the same fulfilling feeling I had like when I first saw it with “oooh’s” and “ahh’s” and confetti at the very end. Maybe it was the lack of elephants that made it less than superb.

After the circus, it was nearly 1:30. We were hungry and in the Buzz City. Unlike the small country town I’m from, we had lots of options to pick from rather than the same McDonald’s and Chili’s choice. We explored uptown for some options and came across some beautiful places. Charlotte is a combination of old brick buildings meet new industrial skyscrapers, and to stitch the past and future are scattered pieces of art across the city. There’s poetry on old brick buildings and there are sculptures along the sidewalk. It’s beautiful when you really look at it. We walked along these artworks while we looked at the Market Square and the garden area nearby. After this little exploration, we finally decided to eat at Grand Asia supermarket for some rice and meat for my family and vegetables for me. My dad got this guava drink and I got jasmine tea that tasted amazing, and that was my highlight of our meal.

It was still early and we were all still very happy with going to the circus and didn’t feel like going home yet. We drove around with the radio loud and windows down going down the freeway. We decided to go to the mall before calling it a day and prepare for the Super Bowl – my dad hopeful for a Falcon win and me for an amazing performance by a queen, Lady Gaga. We walked around joking about the lack of elephants and the farm animals that had replaced them and talked about the differences from our first circus to this last one. We were all happy and enjoying each other with sarcastic jokes and genuine smiles.

It was a very good day. Even at home, we decided to eat together and enjoy the Super Bowl with their anti-Trump commercials and Lady Gaga’s amazing Half-Time performance. It was a bittersweet day going to the circus knowing it was coming to its last spotlight, but it was still able to create vibrant and beautifully warm memories that will entertain and last for years to come.

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