In my long life, I have rarely met any women who look like me. Of course, you might be inclined to agree should you ever see a photograph, particularly from my glory days. But when I describe myself now or at any time in my history, any image you have is in your mind. But here goes, a bit of briefness and brevity: compact and dark, like a coffee bean, but not that silly round shape. I was a performer after all. And I have kept a fine figure all my days.
Twenty years ago–maybe even ten–I might have said, “You must have heard of me. The Amazing Adrienne, star of this or that European circus.” But I hardly recall any of the circus names myself anymore. From birth to retirement, I was an acrobat. In those days, circus performers were part of those tight-knight families you read about in novels. But I was a remarkable roamer, even for my profession. First freelance acrobat, the papers called me. I travelled more than any one of the companies I worked with.
I was well-known for my talent and for my drifting commitments. I was known even in countries where I never actually performed. I loved the fame. Glamour and a constant sea of strangers’ faces that even now I find I do miss. A bit. Nevertheless, I tired of it. With all of the places I had seen and the offsite things I had gotten involved in, I found that the excitement of performing had paled. I confessed as much to a friend, of which I had few dear ones. This now exists as a rumour in biographies and the like. They never really get it right.
But I confirm and correct it now. In Paris, on the eve of my twenty-fifth birthday, I said to Jessa Morgan, “Yes, but my dear, you can’t imagine how tedious it has all become.” Even then, I could turn a phrase with all of the languorous eloquence of a bored bachelor poet. As I recall, she laughed, then excused herself to visit the lavatory. We all drank rather a bit too much in those days.
Later that same year, I announced my retirement to a reporter in a backwater town in Liechtenstein. After that, I wandered out to New York. It was so new then. Like meeting a young man after a lifetime of grey-bearded old bores.
That, darlings, was when life really started.