The Interstitial Moment
I don’t exit well.
Astounded, I stared at the blank space on the dining room table. Last time I looked, my train ticket had been lying in that spot. My “this is not a ticket” information sheet, too, just in case I needed it. Ahead of time, I’d dutifully printed both pieces of paper and laid them in their special place. Which was now blank.
This discovery came shortly after a frantic fifteen minute search for my glasses. Upstairs, downstairs, in my outside car—all in vain. Neither the essential glasses—I am blind as Elmer Fudd—nor the tickets were ever found.
Me, pawing through the trunk of the car, running up and down the stairs, scattering everything from my pocketbook onto the couch: this is not a pretty sight. A “melt down,” said my patient husband who, unfortunately, witnessed the entire thing.
Why is this? Why did I wake with dread this morning when I’m off to enjoy a fun weekend with my family? What about leave-taking undoes me?
First of all, I expect mistakes. I know I will forget something. When I was practicing law and left the office, the staff would count (“one, Mississippi; two, Mississippi”), waiting for me to reappear and retrieve what I had forgotten on my desk or to tell them what I’d forgotten to say or ask for the directions I’d forgotten about while rushing out the door. As a result, when something goes wrong happens, panic sets in: you always screw up this way!
Rushing, harried, frantic, panicked.
My problem, I think, is a life-long attempt to cut it too close. Sleeping until the last minute, ready to walk out the door at the last minute, leaving no time to compose myself and think: do you have every thing you need, such as your tickets? If the answer to that question is “no,” and it is time to get this show on the road, a meltdown ensues because I HAVE NO TIME, I’M LATE, THE TRAIN WILL LEAVE MY ASS!
Now, there’s an atmosphere that makes it easy to think.
I’m making a vow (publicly, no less) to quit that foolishness. No longer will I set my alarm to the minute, work on my stories up to the last minute. From now on, I will build in a buffer zone. A period of stillness, ten minutes at least when I sit and think, what is it you need in order to move on to the next thing?
If I can do this, maybe I will learn to honor the interstitial moment, the hiatus, the pause between one era of time and the next. Whether leaving for Jackson or leaving a beloved service organization or leaving one adventure for another, I can sit quietly and ask: what is it I need to take with me?
Oh—are you wondering how I got on the train with no tickets? These days, you can use your phone. Or, even better, you can walk up to the platform and the conductor says, “Name, please?” You say, “Prewitt,” and he finds your ticket on his own phone.
here’s to creative synthesis . . .