My way is in the sand flowing
between the shingle and the dune
the summer rain rains on my life
on me my life harrying fleeting
to its beginning to its end
My peace is there in the receding mist
when I may cease from treading these long shifting thresholds
and live the space of a door
that opens and shuts
Liminal space, in-between space, spaces between the past and the future, but not the present. Moving “forward” towards goals and dreams, the present is a space to be crossed, to be endured until the next goal is achieved, the next landmark reached, after which I will be happy and complete.
For me it began as a child, waiting for day trips, birthdays, Disneyland and holidays. The build up of excitement was such that the days in between were tedious and irrelevant, so that summer days became a blur and before I realized it, school was starting. Every day was an anticipation of the future and never enjoyed for itself. Even when the day arrived, about half way through I would start feeling bad because it was going to end. The worst, of course, was the bold-faced lie that was “wait until you’re an adult, then you can do anything you want.” After that it wasn’t just days that were blurred, but years, until I was sixteen, until I was eighteen, until I was twenty-one. Until I graduated high school (missed that one,) until I got my BA, MA, PhD, my first tenure-track job, tenure review and so on.
At the same time, I was drowning in the past. I read incessantly about history and my parents could have been my grandparents, so my experiences in Los Angeles seemed to be based anywhere from 1940 to 1960. I was also an anxious child, always believing that I was going to get in trouble for something or someone was angry at me, so I continually re-played encounters and conversations in my mind, looking for what I did wrong or was embarrassed about. For example, for my entire childhood, my family went to Disneyland every summer. One year we were having lunch at a restaurant in New Orleans Square near the Haunted Mansion, and a dixieland band had just finished performing. Finished with my meal, I got down from my chair without my parents noticing and went up to the deserted stage. I stood in front of a microphone (at banjo height) and said “hello,” and my voice boomed out over the dining area. People started laughing and an employee rushed over and scolded me in front of everyone, then my mother scolded me for making a spectacle of myself. For a normal person, this would be a charming childhood anecdote, but not for me. I refused in enter that restaurant for TEN YEARS. I was embarrassed and afraid that someone would recognize me for all that time.*
Future and past, but never the present. I thought I had infinite time, but I don’t. I don’t know how much or how little time I have and it has been a struggle to push myself through the threshold I’ve been existing in and into my life. I even catch myself doing it with my treatment, waiting until my chemo is over so I can dance or go on vacation. The funny thing is that chemo doesn’t let you plan ahead. I can’t make plans with people because I don’t know how I am going to feel, so I have to be spontaneous, seizing every moment that I feel good. It’s kind of refreshing.**
Where do you live in time?
*I finally went in when I my boyfriend convinced me that no one would remember me after all that time. Then he went to the “bathroom” where he bribed an employee to come up to me and say “Didn’t you get up on stage….?” Bastard.