I have what some might politely refer to as a “fascination.” No. I’m not talking about food. Or raccoons. Or cross-stitch. Or murder and murderers. It’s not about rare, fatal diseases or unique poisons. Be quiet.
There are places–in between–here and there. Places where time and reason and reality seem to…shiver.
The literal definition of “liminal spaces” comes from the Latin word “limen,” which means “threshold.” People have applied the phrase to hallways, waiting rooms, elevators, and stairwells. Basically…
The space between this space and that space. The space that leads us from here to there.
It’s an innocuous phrase, really. A threshold. Not very interesting. However, I’m more interested in “liminal space” in the broader sense. The “space between here and there.” And when we decide where we’re not headed, “liminal space” takes on a fascinating and even more abstract meaning.
To me, a liminal space can be anywhere we find ourselves, outside of our normal routine, making a decision about what’s next. It’s the mental state we find ourselves in that causes reality to warp, time to change, and reason has none. It’s what we’re going through that makes a liminal space interesting.
Now, to be clear, I do have an obsession with long, eerie hallways simply because they’re long eerie hallways. I also get a twitch of excitement in elevators where a lightbulb flickers. A poorly lit stairwell that smells of damp? An abandoned warehouse or church? A deserted city street after a huge snowstorm. An old country road that winds through the woods. Im in!
However, liminal spaces, to me, do not always have to feel creepy.
The creepy ones are simply the most thrilling.
Have you ever been sitting in a chair in an office building, wondering how your interview just went? Waiting in a bank lobby after applying for a loan? Standing in a school hallway after taking a test, wondering if you bombed? Sat in a hospital waiting room after a family member died and wondered how you’ll move on? Waited at a bus stop or subway station alone in the middle of the night after a wonderful night out with friends?
Liminal spaces do not have to have a particular emotion attached to them, but they do have to evoke a particular emotion.
What next? What’s coming?
Anywhere can be turned into a liminal space, if only briefly, if you find yourself with that thought.
Needless to say, like a lot of my obsessions, my feelings for liminal spaces shows up in almost all of my work.
The haunted corn maze in GINJUH.
The convenience store in THE GRAVITY OF NOTHING.
Jude’s room in WHEN WORDS GROW FANGS.
Chilly Bean’s in BRIEFLY BUDDIES.
The creek in A SURPLUS OF LIGHT.
The whole fucking town of POSSIBLY TEXAS.
My characters often find themselves in–or put themselves in–spaces where they are left to wonder…what’s next?
Spaces where time and reality and reason seem to glitch and everything means nothing. They’re left with themselves, their thoughts, their dreams, their worries, their emotions, and they have to decide what their next step will be. Where they will let life lead them next.
Will they be the master of their own destiny…or will they let the road roll out before them and simply follow it?
I suppose that’s what I love most about liminal spaces. It’s not just the feelings they evoke, but they’re spaces where I get a small break from reality and get to decide what I’m going to do next. It doesn’t have to be a step towards a grand, life-changing goal, but it’s a step.
Therein lies possibility. There in lies sanity.
Liminal spaces give us a moment in time–no matter how brief–to take a breath, collect our thoughts, and move forward.
As you’re walking down a long hallway towards an office for an interview for your dream job, all possibilities lay out before you. You have those few moments to set yourself right so you can reach out and grab the possibility you want most.
Maybe you succeed. Maybe you fail. But you get to gather yourself and move forward on your own terms.
I’ll forever be obsessed with liminal spaces. Because I’m obsessed with possibility.
Tremendous Love & Thanks,