The Night Jump

The only thing on my mind right now is how much my hands and fingers hurt. I am typing this with fingertips that have been smashed and scraped by all manner of set pieces, boxes of equipment, mashed by steel tent stakes, and maybe shut in a car door or two. There is a bruise forming under my fingernail and a good quantity of skin is missing from my left thumb, causing me to wince every time I hit the spacebar.

I started my day in Waltham, MA and I’m ending it in Sandwich, Massachusetts on Cape Cod. Outside my window is the ratcheting of the “Big Top’s” masts, rising in time with Tent Boss Nat Brown’s block and cowbell. My cell phone’s clock reads 1 a.m.  I’m having trouble keeping my eyes open.

The last vivid memory I have was our jump meeting – a preliminary meeting before “the jump,” the practiced and routine process of uprooting the entire circus, packing everything away into trailers and onto trucks before departure the next day. The plan was the same as every jump, with all of the familiar sensations and tasks as every jump we’ve done. What made this jump so different (and exhausting) is the fact that we did all of the tearing down, packing, traveling, and then setting up in one night. As soon as the performance ended, the usual flurry of activity followed, however this time it maintained until the job was completely finished. Instead of going to sleep we hitched up the trailers, stopped at Dunkin’ Donuts, and kept moving south on I-95. We crossed the Sagamore Bridge into Cape Cod at around 11 pm and pulled into our current site at the Heritage Field thereafter. We set up the trailers, connected the hoses for running water and cables for electricity and in little time, Smirkus had established a functioning base while the tent continued to rise until the morning.

Tomorrow morning when I finish and publish this, work will remain. Full sound and lighting inside the Big Top needs to be set up as do the concessions and novelties tents. Health, electric, building and fire safety inspections will follow, and the troopers will arrive in time to unload, eat, and prepare for a show.

Off to go find the first aid kit,

Evan Johnson, Communications Intern

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