10 September 2016

0 liminal

really, she's just liminal. so said some girl whose face i can no longer recall in the writing biography module i took in maph. she was speaking of jackie and responding to some work i'd done for class- the obituary, the scene from the life, the bio, i don't remember.

i'd written something and, in response to it, this girl said jackie was liminal.

i nodded and smiled earnestly and said, mmmmmmmm. 

it was a word i did not know.

when i went home and logged onto my free university dial-up, there was no entry for liminal in the online dictionary i consulted.

and so for a weird number of years i went through life believing that jackie was liminal without knowing what liminal means.

for some reason i far prefer the anthropological definition.

and i'm intrigued by the fact that this university of chicago undergrad saw this about jackie in 2004. that she was in a perpetual state of becoming. that she never arrived.

would to god that i knew which piece of my work she was responding to when she said this. that would be helpful. i would go back and consult it and try to figure out what in it gave her this notion that i overlooked for years but which has defined the work on jackie which i have ultimately produced.

my academic girlcrush carolyn g. heilbrun (whose middle initial i inexplicably always type as R) gave some lectures on liminality and its role in women's lives. and, reading it, i nodded yes, yes, yes the whole way through. and then i was like, but wait. because what she was describing wasn't a fleeting state. it was my whole life these last five years.

heilbrun posited liminality as a transitory state. the definition above also would suggest it is such.

but isn't the whole of life transitional? aren't we always transitioning? are we really ever so settled or are we just constantly passing from one liminality to the next?

i seem to be promenading from a series of thresholds without ever walking through a door. maybe i shove something in through the mailslot, but it's not like i actually want to go inside, much less own the house.

were i not working on 12 separate projects at once and pretty sure that- in this metaphor- i am someone who wants to frolic in the front yard, this might make me feel flakey. as it is, it just makes me extraordinarily grateful that i rent.

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