Liminal Spaces

“A liminal space is the time between the ‘what was’ and the ‘next.’ It is a place of transition, waiting, and not knowing. Liminal space is where all transformation takes place, if we learn to wait and let it form us.” Source

Entering Dusk

Abuela. As both a Latina and a lover of literature, I have been enamored with the works of Gabriel García Márquez, Jorge Luis Borges, and Isabel Allende since I learned about the concept of books and reading (I started showing interest in books around age 3). The Magical Realists. After the age of 5, I would spend the majority of my time (outside of school) with my grandmother. It was grandmother who planted within me a love of literature and words. My grandmother has the most expansive vocabulary of anyone I know. It was also she, who taught me how to play dominoes and always reminded me to “stay sharp”. Strategy was just as important as imagination. My grandmother created an environment where I could both explore the creative world and my imagination, while also instilling within me the importance of structure, discipline, and all that is grounded in the material world. I often attribute my split in personality – the scientist and the artist – to the time I spent with her during my formative years. I’m both a researcher and a poet. An achiever and a dreamer. A Capricorn Sun and a Pisces Moon. I was raised to live in liminal spaces. My grandmother encouraged me to become comfortable in situations riddled with the unknown. It was she who showed me that nothing stays the same. Transformation was life’s greatest teacher because it was only he who understood the intricacies of time. These lessons from my grandmother – the greatest gifts a child could have been given. 

My uncle had a library in a small room at my grandmother’s house. It was there where I saw my first copy of Don Quixote. I remember picking up the book for the first time and marveling as its monstrosity. That particular edition was a red bound hard-cover. It smelled like a real book. I would attempt to read it – even though at times it was too dense for my young mind. I was always so intrigued by what I could comprehend from the story line. Don Quixote y Sancho Panza. I would often pick up the book and place it inside of basket as I pranced around my grandmother’s house reenacting the Provincial Life scene from Beauty and the Beast .  Unknowingly, this Cervantes masterpiece in all its glory was my first introduction to the hero’s journey as described by Joseph Campbell. It was also my first introduction to magical realism – the bridge between reality and fiction.

One of the techniques employed by the magical realists is the use of liminal spaces. Hence, “the bridge between reality and fiction.” Liminal spaces are those spaces between what was and what will be, where anything is possible. It’s the space between when you awaken and when you register your first breath. It’s that space right before the sun rises or right after the sun sets. It is the space right after an orgasm. The space that exists in-between: spaces that are tainted with the unknown, with darkness, with possibility. It is said that liminal spaces are the birthplace of transformation. The spaces where the universe is continuously destroyed and reborn again and again.

As I walked past a lagoon near dusk last night, I stopped. Transition. I thought. The sun had just waved us goodbye. The moon had appeared in her waxing glory. And the lagoon revered it all in stillness. The sun, the moon, the lagoon – Leaning into the unknown while waiting with knowing that it was all about to change. Reality drenched in liminality. 

Look there she goes, that girl is so peculiar
I wonder if she’s feeling well
With a dreamy, far-off look
And her nose stuck in a book
What a puzzle to the rest of us is Belle
Look there she goes the girl is strange, but special
A most peculiar mademoiselle!
It’s a pity and a sin
She doesn’t quite fit in
‘Cause she really is a funny girl
A beauty but a funny girl
She really is a funny girl
That Belle
Provincial Life lyrics, Beauty and the Beast

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