I once wrote a manuscript about in-between spaces. For example, adolescence is an in-between space, as you move from childhood to adulthood, neither fully one or the other. Transgendered persons experience this in-between-ness as do many multi-racial persons. It can literally also mean being in a “space” e.g. a hotel room or an airplane or airport between what you left behind and what you are going to. Sociologists call this a “liminal space” or on the cusp of being in a place, symbolically or in reality.
I’m in a liminal space now, occupying a hotel room near Toronto’s Pearson Airport, watching the snow fall. I feel as though the liminality began when I left the “cozy apartment” and booked a hotel near the Porto airport, to fly to Lisbon, where the plane to Toronto was delayed for 3 hours, resulting in a lost connection to Pittsburgh (and hopefully not lost luggage). I had to stay overnight in Toronto to wait for another flight, this being winter in Toronto, with bad weather and of course, the holiday when everyone is trying to get “home” from the in-between spaces.
While I would love to get back home as soon as possible, I’ve decided to tolerate the in-between. The past four months were intense with a real immersion in Northern Portugal and the University Communities, as well as travel to lecture and to collect data in other countries. I understand and speak another language now. I think differently about my work and myself. The in-between gives me time to become “Mary Beth” again, mother, wife, crazy cat lady, and think about what the next “space” will be and how I am going to make that happen. I used to mentally scoff when people talked about “transformational experiences” but this Fulbright has changed how I view the world, my research and teaching. I’m not the same person who left Pittsburgh on September 7: I think of my work and the world in much larger ways now, and I like the kind of person that I’ve become—(one who will jump on a plane to Munich not knowing how she will get to Austria and grab a ride in a van with people driving through the alps to reach her destination in time to teach).
I’m just hoping that the in-between doesn’t last too long—I would like to be home for Christmas.