Liminal

A colorless dawn wakes me from a nondescript dream. It is not yet full day, but no longer night. The sun is somewhere above the horizon, but is obscured behind the mountains. A pale, waning moon hangs in the west. No clouds mark the air. The sky is a blank slate, waiting for something, anything, to be written upon it.

It’s been this way for a month now.

Limbo. Stasis. A holding pattern. All different ways of saying the same thing: It’s a period of inactivity, a time of no progress or change. The liminal zone, a state between sleep and wakefulness. The transition place.

In a personal sense, one reason I’m in this place is because I don’t know yet what I’ll be doing or where I’ll be this summer. I am waiting to hear from four possible employers about field work jobs for which I’ve applied. One is for the National Park Service, one for the U.S. Forest Service, one for U.S. Fish and Wildlife, and one for a private tour company. Any of these jobs would take me away from home for the summer; any of them would require me to pack up and move to a new place for a few months, see a new scene, be a stranger in town, and learn a new set of birds, plants, and surroundings. It’s an opportunity for transformation, as it is every year. There is a freedom in it, and yet it’s possible to be trapped by the cycle of repetitive, serial nomadism, for you are always the outsider.

I have turned in several job applications for local work, too, as well as the usual part time gigs that could fill in the gaps, if I chose to juggle work and be more of a free-lancer. This year could be the year I end up staying in town for the summer, for the first time since 2013. But summer is my opportunity to earn the money that gets me through the winter, so I must choose carefully. Can I make enough if I stay home? What would it be like to be more involved in this community, to be here for the summer beach potlucks, to listen to the local string band playing tunes next to the harbor, to attend the weddings and wakes and camping trips I always miss because I’m away exploring?

Maybe no-one will want to hire me. Maybe everyone will want to hire me. There’s no way to know at this point – just the waiting.

It’s more than the job uncertainty that has me squarely settled in the liminal zone. Although we are gaining a few minutes of daylength every day, the difference is nearly imperceptible. The weather has been unchanging: cold and sunny. A solid snowpack is on the ground, two or even five feet deep in some places, hardened and glazed from the sun. We are stuck somewhere between winter and spring.

The seed catalog beckons to me from the dream-garden, but why would I order seeds if I won’t be here this summer?

I tell myself to just enjoy the stability and calm. Find peace in this place where you can rest, before you step over the threshold into the unknown. It’s not as easy as it sounds, but I am practicing. I am trying hard to embrace it. After all, I intentionally made this space, thinking it would be a time for creative pursuits. Turns out that it can be a challenge to find inspiration when there is no action, no change. It’s difficult to be productive from within a state of dormancy. I feel like a hibernating bear. And what is a hibernating bear doing, this time of year? Dreaming about waking up?

Monday, March 20 at 2:28 AM (Alaska time) is the Vernal Equinox. We will tip over the line, into days longer than nights. Maybe something will happen then.

Déjà vu.

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