Oh, those liminal spaces

Sofia Beers, '21

We are all going someplace, coming from somewhere on our way to where we want to be. And in between where are, where we were, and where we’re going, is the liminal spaces. The places where people go on their way to somewhere else; places like airports, waiting rooms, and stairwells–places people never go because they can or particularly would like to, but places they, most often, just end up. 

It was in November, following a particularly awful and notably cold October. I sat in my cold, dark, and quiet car waiting for a seemingly invariable red stoplight to go green. My speakers weren’t working which left me without even an opportunity to fill the stale space around me, though, in all honesty, had I the chance I don’t think I would’ve taken it. The air was light with low rumbling of 1998 Subaru Forester standing alone in an empty intersection, lit only by the lessened glow of an eternally red stoplight. 

It seemed I had some time to kill, had I been in a hurry, I would’ve just gone. But I was not in a hurry, so there I sat. The intersection was illuminated only by the red warmth of the light before me, which was equal parts beautiful and sad. By definition, I was existing in the most perfect liminal space, in between where I had been and where I was going. The world was stopped and different, as if it really wasn’t there at all. No one was taking note or even there at all to notice a bit that I was. 

Unlike airports, waiting rooms, and stairwells the vacancy was comforting not unsettling, the silence calming not chilling, and the dark around the corner didn’t seem capable of harboring a nighttime monster. I was content, for those moments, to exist simply in passing as nothing more than a breath of wind or a girl on her way home. There was a comforting simplicity that arose from not being anywhere of substance, to be nowhere while maintaining where I’ve always been. 

And then the light went green. 

There’s a beauty in temporary things, and all things are temporary. I’ve come to find in my 17 years that people will be mean and the weather will be cold and I will still be expected to carry on regardless. Days will be long and stoplights will turn red when I’m already running late, because that’s life. But I’d like to believe that with every breath and in moments between them I can find comfort in the liminal spaces, the places that make me stop and stay for no reason other than I’m not in a hurry to leave.