Loading icon

Liminal

Uncategorized | December 10, 2018

When I first pulled up to the house I was going to be living in for the summer, the first words out of my mouth were “It’s so green.” The tiny colonial, nestled in a Boston suburb, has a white porch, a broken kitchen light, and we lived for a week in it without a single table. Instead, we would eat our amateurly prepared meals crouched on the stoop outside or on the floor in front of the fan, complaining of the New England summer heat. It was the kind of house that had been rented out exclusively to college students over the years—a new batch of twenty-somethings parading in and out each year and bringing with them their basement parties and their cheap beer stored in the fridge, creating the scrapes on the porch from snow boots in the winter and the scuff marks around each windowsill from portable A/C units used in the summer. As the summer pressed on, I was continually finding trinkets hidden inside of dusty cabinets — an unfinished Rubik’s cube, a rusted pair of scissors. I like finding these relics of the past, these forgotten items like the etchings into basement walls with the names of the houses previous residents.

It was a house that seems perpetually in limbo — something to be loved, lived-in, and let go of. For the first week, I scheduled all my mail to be sent to the next town over. I didn’t realize that we actually stood on the border of two towns, our tiny green house marking a kind of liminal space, where I could stand with one foot in two different zip codes. I like the idea of this arbitrary betweeen-ness, this sense of liminality reinforced by even the name of the street: Sunset Road. We hypothesized why it was called this, theorizing that before the houses on the perpendicular streets sprung up, you could look West down the road and see an uninterrupted sunset. Sometimes, I sit out on the porch and wait for it.

Because this is a house of waiting. As we all rise in the morning and got to our summer internships — toeing the world of professionalism with the safety blanket of two years of college still to come — I am growing more conscious of the fact that we are all dancing on the seam of our lives. In the past seven years, I have lived in seven different dorm rooms. Seven times, I have put everything I own into boxes and waited to be assigned a new set of drawers, a new window with a new view. I have lived in impermanence for so long that even this house—this rented space—seems permanent. More and more, I am realizing how much I have measured out my life in emptied rooms.

I remember lying in bed on the night before I graduated high school (in my fifth dorm room) and looking up at the tiny holes in the wall that were left from the push pins that once held my posters, the cards from my grandmother, the notecard informing me that a story of mine was to be published in a magazine. As I listened to the bell tower outside chime twelve times, and then once, then twice, I kept thinking how easy it was for me the slip away. The next day, I drove out of the gates. Maybe I left behind my own unfinished Rubik’s cube.

In the evenings, when I stand in front of the stove to try to cook dinner for myself (play-acting, it seems, as an adult), I wonder if this is how my mother learned to cook: in burnt pans with discount groceries. She says she doesn’t remember— but I hope I do.