pWdumaNjA-6CEEBhRoD5euxNETs When All This Actual Life Played Out: The spaces between

22 August 2015

The spaces between

Giants Causeway
Bushmills, Moyle, United Kingdom
16 July 2012

Much of my life is spent careering from one thing to another. Whether it's plane-concert-plane, grocery-daughter's school-whatever board I'm serving on, plane-kid on the east coast-plane, work-deadline-bike ride home, whatever, there's forward motion, banquet tables, ear plugs, green pens, and usually a heaping helping of stress, even if it's good stress.

Then there are the interstitial moments, the spaces between, the breath, the silence, the deliberate smile between verses.

A kiss on the wind and we'll make the land.

When I was dancing, we learned in choreography to stop. That was the breath, the pause, the cessation that, if used properly, was as important as motion. As a dancer, sometimes it was really a moment designed by a smart choreographer to allow us to catch our collective breath (after you've grand jeté'd the length of a large stage four times in under a minute, breathing is welcome), but it's also a way to engage the audience: what happens next?

A decade ago, I was traveling to Toronto, and it was a frenetic day with the joy of long flights and passport control. Finally, I was in a taxi en route to the hotel, checked in, and ready to roam. I was supposed to meet D. later in the evening, but my phone was dropping calls and I kept missing her. I finally just took off, in the general direction of where I was supposed to go, and started walking.

I don't know how many miles I went, but it was a distance. The aggravations of the day fell away as I breathed real, not airplane, air, looked at the neighborhoods through which I passed and wonder replaced frustration. New city, new adventure. As the sun started to sink in the west, I suddenly realized in the lengthening shadows that summer was ending, autumn was en route again, and I was incredibly tired. I found a shop and bought a coffee, and as I sank down on a seat outdoors to drink it, there suddenly was D. walking up the street toward me. The serendipity delighted me.

The breath. The pause. What happens next?

We along with some others went to a club to listen to a live band, and made a plan to meet up the next day. D., who is a mover and a shaker and an instigator (this woman could run the world if she had a mind to), had a plan to make some signs for the show that night, and she talked me into helping. Making signs and actually holding up signs are two different things, so I entered happily into making signs. The rest is history.

(Yes, she talked me into holding up signs, too. We could talk about her gift for persuasion, and my equal but opposite gift for stubbornness, and I can tell you that she usually wins. Which is how I ended up in the pit at Irvine Meadows in July, but that's another story altogether.)

For years, I walked and chauffeured my children between home and school. An interstitial moment, the place between point A and point B. So much laughter, so much singing, so much discussion (and when I was driving through Santa Ana, so much profanity). But we all remember those times through all those years (the daughter, apparently, mostly remembers profanity, though trust me, there was a lot of singing).

Work gets done in those interstitial moments. A heart beats. A muscle contracts. An idea forms. A wave gathers. Something grows in the space between structures: a friendship, a gust of wind, a birthday cake, a sapling. Love takes hold.

The breath. The pause. What happens next?

Life, as a construct, can be dense and filled with so much: responsibility and family, work and school, grocery shopping and laundry, baseball and bicycling. So much good, so much bad, so much boredom and so much fun. But it is in the moment that I stop when I am most able to appreciate the friendship, the breeze, the lengthening shadows of the end of summer, the terror of holding a sign, the smile between verses, and love takes hold.

Tech stuff: Taken with my Nikon D40. I have developed a fine tendency to start with one idea and then wander off on a detour, though this mostly kept to what I intended. I get interrupted a lot. I am looking forward to everyone going back to school. Empty nest FTW! And that concert was 11 years ago tonight.

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