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Grabbing my bag of holding, I ventured out to the Treehouse, a far away apartment  where my recently-returned friends resided. It was an arduous trek, involving buses spearing off to the great beyond.

Bus

After a long, accidentally detour-filled ride, I finally arrived at a cross street near the Treehouse. While traversing the rest of the way on foot, I spotted a near-windowless brick building off to the side. It had a sparse poster that read: Hank Lee’s Magic Factory.

Hank Lee

Holy smokes and mirrors!
I just had to see!
After struggling momentarily to find the front entrance, I stepped inside to find a tiny room filled to the brim with curious oddities. There were a vast array of different playing cards behind a display case and a whole slew of strange objects. A man who I presumed to be Hank Lee greeted me. I imagined him to be olde man from the Prestige, knowledgable of the most intricate of tricks. Right on the spot, I planned to spent countless hours perusing the store and conversing with the ingenieur.

sandwich

Over a feast of mortadella and pickle sandwiches, I shared my exciting discovery with the denizens of the Treehouse. I spoke excitedly about Magic the Hank Lee store while my friends, equally enthusiastic, spoke of Magic the Gathering.  We made plans to acquaint ourselves with the purveyor of illusion-y goods as well as enter in the next Friday Night Magic tournament.

I can’t wait!

I was there in the beginning.

Not the very beginning, though.
The tearing down of the abandoned warehouse there was before my time.

Now the lot was just hard concrete, desolate and overrun with weeds.

One chancy weekend stroll led me to discover a budding tent there, hoisted by hard-helmeted men in neon green. Over the next few weeks, I witnessed the slow blossoming of the grand chapiteau. Its yellow and blue tendrils swirled to the sky. Carnival music emanated from the tent grounds in late evenings, filling the air with a sense of mystérie. I always peered hard through the surrounding chain-link fence. What could it be?
Grand Chapiteau
It was Cirque du Soleil!

TOTEM was in town, and with it came large crowds to this quiet harbor district.
Cheery people flooded the streets after each show. It reminded me of my first Cirque Du Soleil experience, Quidam.

The many years before Quidam, Cirque du Soleil and I revolved like sun and moon, never to be at the same place same time. Our eclipse finally occurred September of last year, when Quidam performed at a nearby arena. I was so thrilled to have my dream of seeing a circus fulfilled that I failed to realize a crucial fact: the “circus of the sun” was not actually a circus. The discovery did not disappoint me. Instead of elephants and clowns, I experienced a new kind of wonder with dazzling acrobatics and aerial contortionists. Zoé, the girl with the red balloon, and Quidam, the faceless man, captured my heart. It was a sweet and lighthearted version of Coraline. I loved it.
Quidam
This weekend, I got to see TOTEM. Weeks of anticipation came to a head when I took my first step into beckoning canvas. It was marvelous: the buttery aroma of popcorn, the red-nosed ladies and gents, the unbelievably large big top.

A disco-ball-esque Crystal Man ignited the show. Glisening frogs trampolined around a carapace. Unicyclist ladies juggled cups on their heads. It was one breathtakingly exciting feat after another!

The Tracker was my new Quidam. Twirling his top hat, he was a meister of light and shadows.
Tracker
Overall, TOTEM was less cohesively themed than Quidam. However, it was just as impressive. Its variety of performances kept everyone glued to the scene. Its moving set and mechanical drawbridge was so beautifully engineered. It was definitely the highlight of my weekend.

Bienvenue Cirque du Soleil!
J’ai adoré TOTEM! Tu vas me manquer lorsque vous quittez. Revenez bientôt!