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Posts Tagged ‘liminality’

I have been floating for a few weeks now.  Hovering just above the ground, only inches, perhaps less, so little that nobody notices. In fact, when people look at me (which they do all the time these days) they observe, among other things, a pair of feet flattened and spread, legs slightly bowed and swollen, a tremendous weight around my middle appearing to hold me down, a back unnaturally arched, an appearance of heaviness that is, I think, a disguise for this sense of suspension that fills me now- suspension of time, suspension of rationality, suspension of anger and fear, and even anxiety, a suspension of the world around me that lets me float between two worlds of imagination. It feels almost as if I, too, am encased in an amniotic world that is much like hers, my body turned inside out, amniotic fluid in my eyes, my ears, my heart, between my fingers and arms waiting to hold her, an underwater sea full of magic where thoughts are uniformed by the world outside, untouched – a dolphin, a whale, a human child. She can dream, now, and open and close her eyes. She can hear voices, and form thoughts and feel emotions. And she is within me, still, only slowly planning to swim out. If I eat, she does, and if I breathe deeply, she receives that oxygen. If I turn on the light, she, too can sense a glow through my skin. She does not yet know gravity, and I, my mind and body still one with hers, have lost all sense of it in these past weeks, waiting, weighting, weightless, for her arrival.  I cannot escape the huge pressures on my body, from within and without, only the sense that this pressure lifts more than weighs.

And it is only this: this liminal space: a fog, a journey, a mist, a doorway, an ocean, a mountain, the curve of a tree, a cave, a bedroom, a bear, a carpet, a nightlight. A cup of tea, a spring snow, a summer storm, a sweater, a song, the wishes of a family, the smell of dog curls, the vibration of the voice of her father, the  shadows moving across the wall of her nursery, the blossoms that formed and fell from our tree, the leaves that replace them, the lull and hush of the fan, the sleep that is dreamless, the sleep of strange dreams – it is this liminal space that forms our intention. And this intention – it is hers and ours, it is what we form slowly, quietly, for her. Because this time, when we have expected her arrival at any moment, has been a space to create intention. It is the intention that is weightless, that glows, that fills our moments with something that is not time, that is not even thought, exactly, nor quite as ephemeral as a wish. It is the words we murmur, the space between the two of us (my mountain boy and myself, a belly, a space for her, as wonderful as any filled space in the world) the words and silences we exchange, the knowing that when we see something beautiful, our first thought is one thought: the thought of her, this world she will enter. We have finished her nursery, kept the house clean for her, made everything ready over and over and over again, and it is here that we pause, that we float, that we continue to meditate and sit quietly with and lift up our intention. Nothing about it even vaguely suggests dictation – part of our intention is that she be a free spirit, that she follow her own heart, and that it be a good heart.

We don’t have much more time for this – her imminent arrival, moment by moment, approaches the inevitable – I am finishing this post between contractions. And of course I am aware of the weight, the pain, anxiety, fear, frustration, gravity – but only peripherally, as if watching from, yes, a few inches above the earth. They are very real, the discomfort of a baby past due cannot simply be floated away from her mother, but there is still a kind of peace that infiltrates, that informs, that, yes, with intention, mindfulness, hope, can be a gift as well, a reminder that physicality is part of reality.

Soon,  I will re-enter my body, fully and solely, bring it back to the earth, grounded, solid, a place to comfort and shape, feed and hold hers, her independent, strong and lovely and separate body. We will have floating, drifting, liminal moments together again but they will be different, held together by hands instead of an umbilical cord, communicated through air instead of water, shared with her father and communicated with the joy of her own legs running through the forest, skiing down the mountain, the physical space within his arms when he reads to her at night and she falls asleep.  She is coming into a world so blessed by her family, so many family members that love her already, and it is a real world, a solid world, a grounded space below the mountain, between the arms of her family, within the space that we have all created. A physical space, a space of intention, a place for a child to drift and dream and grow.

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bright and shiny

A lovely, stately creature.

When I first moved to Ohio I took no furniture. I was living in an old Queen Anne home, a beautiful victorian sweetly restored and maintained and furnished: a pretty white iron bed, a vanity with a mirror in the bedroom, wall paper in the bathroom, an old dining room table, an ancient roll-top desk.  There was even a butler’s pantry between the living room and the dining room, all wood and glass cabinets with some scrolled filigree bordering the top: a magical little place where I am certain the characters in the old fairy tales I housed in those cabinets came to life at night and dueled with icicles outside and trekked the snowy garden in winter,  shook the lilac trees on spring mornings before the sun rose. 

A butler's pantry is a small alcove between a kitchen and a dining room through which food, cooked in the kitchen, could pass through a butler and onto the table. Also: a place for magical things.

A butler’s pantry is a small alcove between a kitchen and a dining room through which food, cooked in the kitchen, could pass through a butler (and where all of the silverware and china would be close at hand) and then conveyed to the table. Also: a place for magical things.

Space I had, but there were a few small things I still needed : a bedside lamp, a stool to reach the high kitchen cabinets and to water the geraniums over the high leaded windows.  My mother was there to help settle me in and came back with the prettiest lamp one ever did see: cream colored porcelain, fleur-de-lis, a bit of gold tracery and a brass stand: delicate and a bit stately, elegant and oddly baroque, a mix between the bedroom of a young French princess and the parlour of an aging spinster. The hours we spent together! Reading books, reading manuscripts, reading books that would-be, have been and will-be published! Reading the magical tales of my classmates through long winter nights with the fields of corn, soybean and wheat flowing east, west, south beyond the ancient trees of the old town in the old doll-house of a mansion, a huge haunted lake to the north, and beyond that, another country. Tightly bundled beneath my flowered white duvet in my white iron bed I read and wrote and drew by the light of my pretty old lamp.

Bedtime Reading

She’s awake, reading…

Then I moved to the mountains. I took this lamp with me: I could never leave her behind. A few days after this move, I met my mountain boy. I found myself living among bears in an oddly furnished cabin-in-the-woods. I had an animal skin lampshade over an old black iron lamp there and so sent my old beauty home with him: a brand new loft in an century-old brick building with tall tall windows and hardwood floors – a much more fitting place for her than a log cabin with saltillo tiles and hand-loomed southwest rugs. She was not used to roughing it, did not particularly like mice scampering across her delicate feet. A place where electricity could be assured should please her, I thought.

And now we are reunited, living in the city with the tall windows all lit up with the colors of candles, in a bedroom with a huge wooden bed, piles of books and mounds of pillows. But something has happened to her: she remembers her old homes, the beautiful houses and bedrooms she has lived in before. When she remembers, she dreams, and when she dreams, she blinks and drifts and sighs.  A sleepy lamp, she will flutter on and off and on and off and sometimes, she simply falls asleep while I am reading, mid sentence, or mid footfall to the bed, mid dressing, mid brushing, mid pillow adjusting or mid sigh as I give up trying to rouse the sleeping beauty. She does not like to be awoken and will only flutter on for a few moments before resuming her repose. I cannot bear the thought of replacing her though she haunts us, waking and sleeping with flickers and shadows and dramatic darkness.

Blinking Off

She’s dreaming. I’m awake. She falls asleep so unpredictably.

What does a lamp dream of? Does she share my dreams, of bears and rivers and foxes? Does she dream of mansions and grandmothers and knitting, of French princesses with pink shoes waking in the night and turning her on for a midnight tryst? Does she dream of oil and wicks? Does she dream of the magical stories she has read over my shoulder before blinking, blinking, blinking off and illuminating those dreamed worlds instead? And she does sometime wake with a start, flooding the room with her amber musk of dreamed worlds… 

A haunting that time-travels and space-traverses liminality, she is the place between waking and sleeping. 

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