our circus friends

This past week, we had two people we didn’t know stay with us.  A month ago, I found one of them on the internet, said we’d be glad to host him when he was in the area.  This past Monday he came and brought a friend.

Sketchy, right?

Well, let me assure you that it made for one of the most exciting weeks of my life.  In a really good way.

I became aware of Couchsurfing, a website that connects people looking for a place to stay while travelling with people who are willing to offer their couch (or guest room) and host the ‘couch surfer’ for a night or more, when Danny and I were planning our (non-existent) honeymoon.

At the end of April, I received an email from the site, telling me about surfers coming to my area.  I opened it and read about many of the people.  A certain individual caught my eye – a 23-year-old juggler from Reno, Nevada who wrote that he participates in Couchsurfing “like a sir.”   I excitedly described him to Danny while composing a message to Aaron, that went something like this “YOU ARE CORDIALLY INVITED TO STAY WITH US.  AS LONG AS YOU WANT.  PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE COME STAY WITH US.  PLEASE.”  (Or at least that’s how it went in my mind.)  Did I mention that he is currently employed by the circus and instead of travelling on the train with all the other performers and animals, he drives his motorcycle around the country?  Well, Danny was not very excited about it, and thought that my enthusiasm was weird.  Y’all.  I stay at home all day, surfing the internet and washing dishes and baking.  Having someone from the circus come stay with us sounded like a welcome break from my current lifestyle and terribly interesting and even a bit unpredictable (which is rather opposite of my life these days).

By the title of this post, you may have guessed that Danny softened to the idea of allowing Aaron to stay with us, even if he still thought it was a crazy idea.  In fact, I think that out of all the people (probably 25+) I told about Aaron’s upcoming visit, no one thought it was a good idea.  Thanks, friends.  Way to support my good ideas.  And now I have not just one friend in the circus, but two.  How do you like that?

Anyways, a couple of days before his arrival, Aaron asked if he could bring someone with him.  Sure…I replied.

Little did I know that someone (Ania) would be the best part (sorry, Aaron) of their visit.

They came to us quite sunburned and worn out after a day of motorcyling across Nebraska and Colorado.  We ate dinner together while Danny and I asked a million and one questions.  Ania and Aaron have such interesting lives and experiences, and we couldn’t get enough.  Ania is from Belarus, is trained in rhythmic gymnastics, and has worked around the world in a variety of venues, from a cruise ship that sailed throughout Asia to a casino in the Philippines.  She came to the U.S. this past November to begin performing with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey, and has been travelling across the country with the circus since then.  Aaron has lived in China and Ukraine, and is an excellent juggler, although he currently works as a clown in the circus.  He has dreams of one day being a part of the Blue Man Group or another branch of Feld Entertainment (which operates Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey).  And I have no doubt that he can and will fulfill those dreams.

The next day, after their very unfortunate motorcycle accident, Ania prepared a delicious Russian meal for us, consisting of a vegetable soup and potato pancakes.  Danny and I already had plans to eat with our friends Chris and Emily that evening, but we enjoyed her creations for lunch for the next three days.  I had a chance to work alongside her for a while in the kitchen, which was so fun.  She’s a great cook, and completely self-taught.

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They left while we were at Chris and Emily’s, due to the rain predicted for the next day (and wanting to prevent another motorcycle accident), but not without first cleaning the kitchen and leaving the place spotless (read: they’re sweet people, and if you were thinking about hosting Aaron and/or Ania when the circus comes through your city, do it!).

On Thursday we had the opportunity to attend the circus’ first performance in Colorado Springs, as Ania generously arranged for two complimentary tickets for us.  The whole day I was going crazy.  As in crazy excited.  We hit tons of traffic on the way to the arena, as well as very long lines at the ticket office (which turned out to not be where we needed to be to get our tickets anyways), which meant that we missed the entire pre-show, aside from about three minutes.  However, we did arrive just in time for us to go onto the floor and take a photo in front of the main backdrop.

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^^ Seriously pumped.  ^^

We had amazing seats (thanks, Ania!) and had a fantastic time.  I can’t remember the last time I’ve had that much fun.  My favorite acts were the trampolinists, the dogs, and of course, all the parts that Aaron and Ania were in.  Unfortunately, we got pictures of almost everything else EXCEPT for my favorite parts.  Ha.

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^^ Grand entrance ^^

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^^ Unicycle basketball game.  Quite impressive. ^^

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^^ The tight ropists were excellent, and our seats were a prime location for viewing their stunts.  Can you imagine riding a bike with a woman balanced between yourself and another bike rider?  Not to mention on a tight rope! ^^

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^^ At intermission, Ania came to see us!  She’s not allowed to wear her costumes when she’s not performing, so I was surprised to see her in ‘street clothes.’  Isn’t she beautiful, though?!  ^^

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^^ If you read what I wrote yesterday about “The Elephant in the Living Room,” you will probably wonder why we went to the circus.  Ignorance is bliss, I suppose.  Nonetheless, the elephants did a great job. ^^

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^^ As you can see, the elephants had many tricks up their sleeves. ^^

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^^ To beat the crowds trying to leave the parking lot immediately following the show, we wandered around the grounds were the animals and equipment were kept, and found a photo op I just couldn’t pass up ;) ^^

All in all, we had a great time getting to know Aaron and Ania.  They kind and interesting individuals who have accomplished much in their short lives.  We’re blessed to know them, and hope to see them when the circus comes to Denver in October.

To Aaron and Ania: thanks for sharing yourselves and your lives and your dreams with us.  Thanks for putting up with our endless questions and for being okay with our early bedtime and unexciting lives.  We so enjoyed spending time with the two of you, and wish you the best in your last two shows in Colorado Springs, as well as on the rest of your journeys.  Keep in touch, and we’d love to see you and host you again!  Also, Aaron, I’m so sorry we didn’t get any photos of/with you.  Just another reason we need to meet up in October.

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