Wednesday, January 30, 2008


The sun has set, we slide back through the gradual dusk. Loon voices in the distance; bats flitter past us, dipping over the water surface, flat calm now, the shore things, white-gray rocks and dead trees, doubling themselves in the dark mirror. Around us the illusion of infinite space or of no space, ourselves and the obscure shore which it seems we could touch, the water between an absence. The canoe's reflection floats with us, the paddles twin in the lake. It's like moving on air, nothing beneath us holding us up; suspended, we drift home. Margaret Atwood, Surfacing (1972)

Once, when I was at Auburn, I woke up at 5:30. The gray sky pressed low into the horizon and the sunlight filtered dimly through the heavy clouds. I realized, with a small panic, that I didn't know if it was morning or night. Daybreak or dusk. So, I did what seemed logical at the time. I called information. It's 5:30 in the afternoon, Sweetie. Said the operator. So I went to get some dinner.

Looking back, I realize that this moment was symbolic of my life at that time. No way to gauge my progress, no daymarks to show my location. Just a gray horizon meeting a gray sky falling into a gray earth. It was a liminal space. A threshold. An in-between. And I think that's why I like Atwood's description of this journey across a lake at dusk. Her "Surfacer" is in such a space between spaces. Infinite possibilities. Hopeful and frightening all at once.

I'm glad not to be there anymore.

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