MaryAnn is my first memory. And while I’m sure if prodded, or maybe hypnotized, I’d recall earlier family moments before meeting her at age three while playing in a dirt hole near the road that separated our two homes. But at this point I don’t.
I logged hundreds of hours at her house throughout our long career as Best Friends Forever and when I visit her parents recently, so many years later, one question lingers from my childhood days – will the Russian acrobatics still be there?
Not real ones. No. I’m talking about the crack in the marble design on their bathroom wall that instantly and always appears to me to be two trapeeze artists, one woman flying through the air and one man, knees hooked on the bar of the trapeze, reaching out to catch her. I’m not sure why they are Russian. They just are.
I’ve always seen hidden images. Everywhere. Once I called the police to a neighborhood game of Jail Break because I was convinced that I saw a killer clown, red wig, full makeup and costume, hiding in the woods.
Sometimes the images fade. There one minute, gone the next. Especially cloud people, a very unreliable sort.
But not the Russian circus folk living in MaryAnn’s downstairs bathroom. When I go back, some 20 years later, I see them as clearly as I see the roll of toilet paper.
As clearly as I see the gorilla in my bathroom.
My son and I are reading “The One and Only Ivan,” a true story about a gorilla held in captivity at some awful strip mall and video arcade. Here’s the trailer:
I take a break from reading and find this image emerge from the the veneer of the bathroom door. Do you see it?
Wait, let me get closer…
But not only do I still see the gorilla more clearly up close, I also see a tear.
I never showed anyone the Russian trapeze people. That’s crazy talk.
But I show my son the Gorilla. And he sees him. As plain as the nose on his face.