Oh, hello, old familiar feeling. Like that old boyfriend who always chewed cinnamon Trident and the second I’d get into his orbit again (a few more times than I’d like to admit) I’d be like, “Oh, this again? OK, guess I’ll go with it.”
IThat was twenty years ago, but today I’m talking about the feeling of being in limbo. It had been a while since I’d drifted upon its oddly fuzzy shores where there’s not a damn thing to do. BUT — there is also ANYTHING to do. Anything you want.
I made a concerted effort some years ago to change my life. No bigs, right? One of the things that helped the most was being in inadvertent limbo. We were having our bathroom remodeled and the contractor fucked up so we were stuck out of our house for two months one summer. I was livid. But I also was pushed into limbo, literal dislodgment, and that ended up dislodging me from being stuck. I started playing music again and it was the veritable beginning to getting creative again, following my inner star. I should write that contractor a thank you note. Well, not so fast — he also totally fucked up our drain installation, which we found out when it broke several years later and had to get replaced for $$$$.
Anyway! Less-than-attentive and disorganized contractor notwithstanding (also it was my fault for hiring a bar buddy to redo part of my house — I know, I know), being in limbo is so useful if you let yourself go and float there. It’s like hotel time. During hotel time I always get so much done. I reedited half my book in the mornings on vacation in Seattle in October.
One of my close friends was dislodged recently for a week (and not sure when she would get back into her house) due to some housework that would cause fumes that would be no good for her baby. And she got so much done! Of course she is naturally a get-up-and-go-er, but I loved seeing how excited she was in the midst of the dislodgment.
So why am I feeling bad about limbo today? Why do I find myself needing to majorly solidify plans, manipulate everything into perfect symmetry on my desk, fridge, face, hair, husband? Probably because I’m ready for the next steps. I’ve laid the groundwork. Let’s go. But also I have laid the groundwork and now I can relax. Sort of. Choosing between relaxing and cleaning/fixing everything is funny. Hey, all my linens are clean as a whistle and I’ve WD-40d the front door and oh, hey, do I hear a squeak somewhere…?
If I let myself ease into it, limbo is not a bad place to be. I love the “and” between things. The liminal space, as it's called. This is why, when I relax and look around me, I actually enjoy airports — it’s the place between places. Everyone is off to somewhere else. No one lives there. There is a freshness to this energy (even if airports are also the place where you get stuck, etc.). If we detach from our traditional ideas about airports and the in-between we might find some value there. Should I go sit at the airport? Nah, that probably won’t make me less antsy.
So, while in limbo, I like to take the creative bull by the horns. This past week I’ve organized two albums’ worth of songs I recorded over the last few years. That’s something.
I’d like to switch gears for a second, however, because my husband just came in and interrupted me while I was writing and now I have totally lost my train of thought. Usually I can swim back down but today I am tired due to being weak from some food poisoning a couple nights ago. This is my own bad. I keep making the mistake of wherever I am putting my desk out in the open. Like, why do I do this? Resistance? I’m so mad at myself.
And now I am in even more limbo because I can’t even finish this piece in a way that makes sense or is satisfying. And I have a headache. Sucks.
I guess just ending it thusly makes as much sense as anything else. Limbo!
I’m going to walk away from this post and come back in a few days.
Here’s my few-days-later assessment: After I wrote most of this I lied down with the cat, let myself not write, talked to my husband and then had that great cry where I found the depths of my little inner child who is so scared of both my success and failure. When I let her have a voice (and to come shooting out my eyeholes) I instantly felt better. It felt really good to let her out of limbo. And hey, maybe I would not have found her and let her have a voice if my outsides (limbo-mania) didn’t match where she was.
So, hey, limbo is valuable. If annoying and completely frustrating. But, as my therapist says, “Don’t push the river.” Which is attributed to Barry Stevens, an old Chinese proverb, and a couple other things. Whatever. I’m just going to go with it.
It's me, Jennifer Bernice (rhymes with "Furnace": it was my Granny's name) Sutkowski
• More details about my writing here.