Sunday, April 24, 2011

Firsts & the Circus

I just started reading Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen and I'm already close to tears. Not because of the storyline (although it has been pretty sad so far), but because I'm seeing through Jacob Jankowski's eyes as he experiences the circus for the first time in 1931. Back when the circus traveled by train and actually set up the Big Top... before televisions and the internet and smartphones... Jacob has just seen the menagerie...
Brilliantly painted red and gold animal dens line tow of the four walls, their sides propped open to reveal lions, tigers, panthers, jaguars, bears, chimps, and spider monkeys -- even an orangutan. 
"Even an orangutan." That's what got me.  So much has changed in the last 80 years! My Dad was born into this world in 1931. I wonder when my parents saw an orangutan for the first time? Did the circus come through here? Did they have the money to go? Would they even have been allowed to? Interesting questions that I've never thought to ask until now. Looks like I'll have to quiz Mom this week while she's in town!

Firsts... they're so hard to come by in this day and age. Nothing is new anymore. Nothing is special. Everything under the sun is a Google away. The circus is in the auditorium down the road. The zoo is a 15 minute drive. Been there, done that, have the t-shirt.

I feel the need to experience more firsts in my life.