I have an opportunity right now to see people I’ve not seen for a while and do new things. And this has me thinking about the anticipation I have of “seeing people” and “doing new things.” It’s partly wrapped up in the glory of moving to a new place and that “new place buzz.” I remember Kirsty and Cathy talking about this in Germany, about the melancholy that set in after we realized, about four weeks into our first semester there, that we were still living there, neither citizens nor vacationers, and the buzz was gone. And this feeling, though less exaggerated, is with me in any new place, and usually the reason for my ability to establish new patterns, like checking my phone less often, because of that space for reinvention, before I start to feel a bit concretized again.
I know that this overarching narrative of “how things might be” that starts to entice me in a new place is not one I totally buy into, and I’m reminded of that as it becomes crushed in small ways. I might have coffee with someone and it doesn’t feel exactly as I thought it was going to. And even if it’s better than I imagined, it’s still disconcerting somehow, because of that disconnect between how things are and how I imagine them. I find myself living in that liminal space of “possibility,” which may not be a bad thing–it lets you do things like reinvent small behaviors and patterns–but it also feels inhibitive of being able to see things truly. My stories have centered around this identity-shifting idea frequently: Josie, who looked in the mirror and felt frozen, as if unable to effect her image through actions, and Emilyn (when I was 15), who moved from place to place to begin new narratives.
I’m not sure what it is sometimes that makes me feel happy, but it frequently seems to be a newness or flexibility, like walking down a street in the snow, thinking a sad thought I’ve never had before about an unnerving, distant thing that happened earlier that day, and it reminds me of the time Giselle told me that she would sometimes walk very slowly and weirdly, trying to do things in a way that had never been done before. And that seems to be my way to reinvent things: in small and powerful ways, driving cracks into things and making space for movement, in that in-between place.