Kid and I went to see some Chinese acrobats today. I don't use the word "wow" much, but I must have said "wow" thirty times during the performance. The human body, properly trained, can do such incredible things. And as I've mentioned before, it's a lot of fun to take Kid places because everything interests her. She has an extensive set of pint-sized acquaintances (the Montessori mob was out in force at this event) with whom she can compare lost teeth and
shoe styles, she has the imagination to easily turn the red velvet stage curtains into a sumptuous dress with which
to dine with a prince, and she makes lucid observations about small stuff that I might otherwise miss. The show was geared toward entertaining children -- very fast-paced, lots of humorous interludes, and costumes in vivid hues.
As I sat there watching (and had the double pleasure of watching Kid's enjoyment), I thought about what a changed world we live in from when I was a child. I remember Nixon going to China, the first sustained glimpses of Maoist crowds thronging through the streets on bicycles in their drab jackets. I so clearly recall the Wide World of Sports broadcasting the acrobats as a major TV event, which I watched in rapt amazement. The children, so serious. The adults, so restrained and precise. I can see it in my mind in Kodakchrome colors, hear the tinny jangle of unfamiliar Chinese music blared at martial volumes
in the theatre where the cameras rolled. The thought that I would be able to drive down the street and see such a troupe --
or a Russian circus, or have my bagel served to me by a Vietnamese man only a few years younger than me -- well, it's amazing to me because at the time, the Cold War seemed like just the way things were and were always going to be. As I look at the delight on the faces of all the children in the audience, I am struck by a sense of hopefulness and a measure of change. Ok, so the world right now is bleak and our current administration at the federal and state level drives me nuts. But something wonderful happened within my lifetime to connect (at least in a tiny way) two groups of people who would never have gotten to see each other face to face thirty years ago. Maybe by the time Kid is old enough to really dance, we'll even
start allowing Cuban dance bands back into the country.