Saturday, February 27, 2016

The Space In Between

The water is achingly clear.  My paddle dips in, out, in again as long, sure strokes propel me across its glassy surface.  The sun kisses the backs of my shoulders and warms the little bones that curve with my spine as I hunch towards the fiberglass bow.  It is quiet.  Water whispers past the insistent tip of my canoe.  Shining droplets plip near my feet when I switch my paddle to the opposite side.  Below me, through impossibly blue water I can see the lagoon floor, luminous, alien.  Ever present.

It is just me and the ocean and the paddle and the canoe and the sun.  Flying along the shoreline past dripping mangroves and a dense cacophony of coconut and pandanas.  I am perfectly balanced in my canoe.  Weightless.  Free.  I know there are people on the shore and they probably need me but for now I linger.

Then my eyes open and the air isn't bright and clear anymore but dark and filled with the familiar scents of home.  Last night's dinner and the dusky scent of adobe that lingers in our 100 year old house.  The musky dog asleep at the foot of our bed, and spicy juniper and sage seeping in from the cracked window near my head.  My husband gently snores just within arm's reach.  Reality pulls, and wisps begin to gather and consolidate as I come back to the present.  I don't want to.  The dream was a gift.  So for now, I linger.

Preparing to go on a trip to the outer islands with Father Nehemiah's family.
I've been exploring a master's thesis for a few months now.  I want to look at how public schools can create third spaces for children who are in transition.  As part of the exploratory process, (I'm still defining my theoretical framework), I created a survey last week to determine if there was even a need for this type of support, as well as practice my survey writing skills.  So, I wrote the survey and disseminated it among my various social media accounts, inquiring about the types of support people received during times of transition when they were children.  I'm still in the process of collecting and analyzing the data, but I plan on sharing here when I'm done.

What I hadn't anticipated, in the writing of the survey, was how crafting the line of questioning would affect me.  I wrote the survey in the morning, and it wasn't until that night, when I had spent the past hour mining Instagram for pictures of Ontong Java, when tears were pricking my eyes and my throat had closed up, that I finally recognized the blanket of sadness that had draped itself over me.  I was triggered.  But still, I lingered, greedily consuming every digital bit of my home that I could find.

My dad asked me a question, months ago, while we were on one of our long walks together.  He asked, "With all the suffering you experienced, do you wish we had never left America?"

In other words.  Would you rather have loved and lost, then never have loved at all?

This is the tension I live in, and a tension I think many TCKs live in.  How to reconcile the good bits, the dancing on moonlit beaches, the camaraderie of roasting jungle birds over an open fire, the heartbreaking beauty of untouched nature, the warm enfolding into the community bosom ... how to reconcile all of that, with the bad bits?  With the clouds of mosquitoes hovering so thick over your head, that you can't see the sky, and night after night of going to bed with a hungrily rumbling stomach?  With boat trips wherein you fear for your life, as waves almost take the ship down and you see your mother thrown against the railing, cracking her rib?  With the soul shattering pain of leaving an entire community behind?  With never.  Ever.  Completely belonging?

So I linger, in this space between.  The space of mourning and rejoicing.  The space of celebrating and anger.  The space of bitterness and love.  This is the third space that I think others live in, too.  And I hope to figure out how to create a communal third space, a space in which we can all experience the tension together.  A space where we can all live in the Then and in the Now.  Were we can linger, together, and in the lingering, find healing.