Something about the circus stirs their souls, and they ache for it when it is absent. They seek each other out, these people of such specific like mind. They tell of how they found the circus, how those first few steps were like magic. Like stepping into a fairy tale under a curtain of stars. They pontificate upon the fluffiness of the popcorn, the sweetness of the chocolate. They spend hours discussing the quality of the light, the heat of the bonfire. They sit over their drinks smiling like children and they relish being surrounded by kindred spirits, if only for an evening. When they depart, they shake hands and embrace like old friends, even if they have only just met, and as they their separate ways they feel less alone than they had before. (p 143)
I want to visit the Night Circus. I want it more than I’ve wanted anything for a long time. I want it to be real, like The House on the Rock in Neil Gaiman’s American Gods. I want to be swept away by something so mysterious and possessing that it can only be called magic.
I’ve always loved magic. My friend’s father is a magician, and I still remember my unabashed delight at the first trick he ever performed for me years ago. We were at the Denver airport getting ready to fly back to Los Angeles, and I was trying to figure out how to ask him to show me some magic without succumbing to outright begging. I don’t remember why he relented, but I do recall standing in the loading zone with the car trunk open and our bags untouched inside. He asked for a quarter and then told me to write whatever I wanted on it. I chose Wyoming, because that was where my future in-laws lived, and I had never been, and it seemed appropriately portentous. He took the coin from me and when he gave it back a moment later, it was bent in half. I could see where I had written my word, and I could feel that the coin was unyieldingly changed. It wasn’t an illusion. He had shifted it from a flat piece of metal into the shape of a C. That’s what I saw, and that’s what I believe.
I have never had the slightest desire to see behind the curtain, to have magic’s greatest secrets revealed to me. I have no problem believing in God, or in the existence of aliens and fairies – why should magic be any less real? Because I can’t see it? Because someone tells me it’s just a trick, a subtle shift and redirection?
To me, magic, and the potential of and for magic is wonderful. It fills me in where the pieces of reality fail to come together. It comforts me on the days when I feel I’m walking through the world just slightly out of step with reality. The Night Circus (the tale) and the Night Circus (the circus) have lured me into an alternate universe where even those without any hint of magic can experience the most exquisite dreams come to life. It’s one of the most breathtaking transformations to me – the shaping of dreams into words on the page.
“It is important,” the man in the grey suit interrupts. “Someone needs to tell those tales. When the battles are fought and won and lost, when the pirates find their treasures and the dragons eat their foes for breakfast with a nice cup of Lapsang souchong, someone needs to tell their bits of overlapping narrative. There’s magic in that. It’s in the listener, and for each and every ear it will be different, and it will affect them in ways they can never predict. From the mundane to the profound. You may tell a tale that takes up residence in someone’s soul, becomes their blood and self and purpose. That tale will move them and drive them and who knows what they might do because of it, because of your words. That is your role, your gift. Your sister may be able to see the future, but you yourself can shape it, boy. Do not forget that.” He takes another sip of his wine. “There are many kinds of magic, after all.” (p 381)
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