The sky hangs heavy in the the air, an opaque cloud pulled tight around the ears of the earth like a thick wool cap. It’s the kind of mist that leeches the color out of everything, making the emerald grass seem just green, the mahogany tree trunks plain brown, and the white fence posts that pass by simply gray. It’s the kind of fog that is so intense it pulls everything towards a monotone just to try to reach equilibrium.
Moisture beads on the metal shell of the car, and even though no rain is technically falling from the sky, every square inch of atmosphere is so thickly saturated with water that it's impossible to be dehydrated. The grass is just this side of overwatered, and its deep green is the most colorful thing in the whole scene.
Everything passes by outside the windows so quickly, fences in various states of disrepair giving way to cows grazing giving way to rusting water tanks on their last legs. Things outside move so fast that they seem to slow, the whirling tableau becoming monotonous.
The world is gray, the existence of anything outside this car seems questionable, and then time freezes.
It doesn’t actually freeze, of course. I’m not living in a fantasy world, or a sci-fi one, or some combination with magic and technology. Only magic here is completely mundane, the type of thing found in laughter or words on a page, and it can only ever really affect you. Technology in 2018 is pretty advanced, sure, but it’s not exactly at the levels of freezing time.
Yet, I would say, if I was more confident in the continued existence of this planet. For now, though, I’ll just leave that sentence open ended. Fill it in yourself, and then isn’t that some kind of magic. I’m talking to whoever is reading this, days or months or years in the future, and we are writing this story together.
It’s kind of sappy, but that’s the kind of thing you think about in time-frozen liminal spaces. Driving in the car to see a movie I’ve seen three times before in theaters with someone who I don’t want to hang out with and missing someone that I do, time freezes and I like to pretend that I can feel important.
The music – a song from the movie what we are going to see – blasts, and my mouth moves along to lyrics that I know better than anyone else in the car. I can’t tear my eyes away from the shifting scenery that lulls me into a hypnotized daze.
Liminal spaces are places that just feel wrong. Maybe it’s because it’s an in-between place that shouldn’t be stayed in for too long (like rest stops, or mall bathrooms, or Kmarts). Could be because even if you are supposed to be there, you’re there at the wrong time (like a grocery store in the middle of the night, or school before everyone else has showed up, or a forest just as dusk approaches). Whatever it is, they feel so distant from reality it’s like you aren’t even there, and my life has felt like that more and more often as of late.
If concepts could be liminal spaces, the future – hell, reality of the day to day life – would be mine. Some days, even as I think about what is coming up in an hour, in a day, in a year, I can’t convince myself that it will happen. Going to school, day after day after day, has somehow become so unreal to my thoughts that spring break and the school year and summer vacation all feel the same, muddling into a sludge of unreality.
Being in a car, driving the same path that you've been three times in the past three days, and feeling so far removed from the world outside is it's own type of transporting liminal space. It's watching the world through a pane of glass, unable to touch or make contact with it, and knowing that even if you could, there's nothing to make contact with anyway.
We pass through a copse of trees, time still sluggish, and I distantly remember exploring this forest. For so long, I had been entranced with the idea of it holding adventures behind every trunk and mysteries and secrets beneath every leaf, but the one time that I was given free reign to explore it, all I found was sawgrass, tall as I was, that made it impossible to even enter the woods.
A lot of things are like that, where you see potential and possibility until you take a closer look, and then all you can see is the effort it would take to change the entire world around you.
The trees pass quick enough, and I let my eyes blur. Everything outside is repetitive and time has stopped existing in the nearby area, and it makes no difference whether I carefully note each new feature or just take it in, never really seeing any of it.
There are so many journeys in life, after all, and you can't possibly remember all of them. You just cling to what you can, and let the river of time take away the rest.
The car turns, nearing Honoka'a, and the colors are still dulled and distant. Houses appear, but they are nearly consumed by the forest that presses against their backs. Fields reappear, but they are so dull that the eye easily skips over them. The road is slick and shiny from mist, and the faintest reflections of headlights bounce off the black asphalt.
The world is gray and trapped behind its pane of glass, time is still clogged and clotted and slow, and sounds seem muffled by the fog outside. If I were to look down at my hands, I probably wouldn't recognize them. My brain is floating somewhere out in the atmosphere, held captive by the strange reality it has created and the hypnosis of mist, and the physical form that I inhabit seems even more strange than normal.
We find a parking space, park, and the car doors open, displacing the water droplets that had made their homes on the mirrors and glass and metal. Time starts back up with a jolt, and I slide out of the car.
Even if my brain is still up among the clouds, it becomes second nature to pretend your realities align with the one you live in.
Realities may change from person to person, dear reader, just like time and space and color, but you always have to know when to leave your existence up in the atmosphere and join the world that is accepted as real.
Unless you’re willing to brave the fortifications of sawgrasses that have grown between dreams and the rest of the world, that is.