Just a Clown

watercolor profile

“My thoughts were so loud I couldn’t hear with my mouth.” -Modest Mouse

*****

Every morning is the same. I put on my bright red nose, paint my face, lace up my oversized combat boots, and clamor into my impossibly small car. Knees resting on the dash. My commute gives me time to rehearse my lines, practice my smile. The makeup irritates my skin but the plus side is it perfectly conceals a tearstained face. The sunshine plays off my flashy standard issue polyester jumpsuit which has elastic bands at the neck, wrists, and ankles. Somehow the elastic doesn’t have very much give and as a result this design element constricts my circulation making me feel trapped and lightheaded.

My boss, the bearded lady wants me to reconsider the high wire act. Says it was a once in a life time malfunction. Won’t ever happen again. Her words are empty. She doesn’t care about me. Her bottom line is the show. Fill the seats. Do what it takes. If not, step aside because there are others eagerly awaiting the chance to walk out on that wire. High above the disgruntled big cats, over the artists juggling various flaming objects, near the show-off contortionists continually bending folding transforming themselves into something else entirely. I’m just a clown.

But I suppose acrophobia is my super power now. That’s how my doctor refers to my extreme fear of heights, acrophobia. When you’re an acrobat it’s harder to appreciate that play on words. I wasn’t always this way. I developed this intense fear after that incident when the wire snapped and I free fell. The act itself of falling was quite peaceful although alarming as it was unexpected. The landing, I imagine was rough I don’t recall that part.

On my way back to the big top and the thought of possibly having to teeter on that wire once again brings on a new wave of panic. I turn up the radio to drown out my thoughts.

“Why does it always feel like I’m caught in an undertow?

Walk a little farther to another plan.
You said that you did, but you didn’t understand.

I know that starting over is not what life’s all about.
But my thoughts were so loud, I couldn’t hear my mouth.
My thoughts were so loud, I couldn’t hear my mouth.
My thoughts were so loud.” -The World at Large, Modest Mouse