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  • Writer's pictureAna Philibert

The spaces in between

Updated: Aug 12, 2021

Interstice: A gap in something generally continuous. A short space of time between events.

A space in between.

When you travel, even though you know the destination, you never know what awaits you on the other side, not really. As if as you fly, you cross from one reality to another. A pause between the life you just left behind and the one that awaits when you land; between the person you are and the person you are about to become.

I like airports, I like the person I am in them. I enjoy long layover hours and being surrounded by people who are starting and finishing stories. Being in transition excites me, as if I sensed that I am about to experience something big.

I missed hearing languages I don't understand and seeing people from all over the world. After several years and many many attempts at this trip, I am here, a few hours away from getting on the plane that will finally take me to Indonesia, without a return ticket.

I sit in a small coffee shop and start writing. I love the feeling that comes from the space between one reality and another, an instant where time seems to stop. The boarding gate to a new life and a ticket that seems to be just a piece of paper but really contains all the possibilities. The uncertainty that opens the door to new stories to write, new people who will become part of my life and new pieces of me that are still unknown.

I write for a while and suddenly a word comes to my mind: "interstices." I heard this term for the first time in university. Noemí shared with us a fragment of something she had written and I remember that it caught my attention, so much so, that years later I still remember it. So I decide to get in touch with her to reread her words and see how her experience intertwines with mine.

“Airports are usually one of the most exciting spaces. The exit door to distant and unknown places. I remember feeling small, in large corridors full of people, very excited and preparing for a new temporary life. Long interstices, especially in unfamiliar places, are almost always a special part of my memories ”.

Reading these words again, I discover so much similarity in our ideas and feelings. Years after having read that text for the first time, these interstices have become part of my life and they always invite me to pause, to look within.

This time I have a 17-hour layover, many more hours on the flight, and a five-day quarantine before reaching my final destination, so I have plenty of time to think. I reflect about transitions, pauses in life and a phrase that I heard recently, something like “sometimes it seems like you are waiting for your life to begin”. Could it be that I’ve been in a kind of "waiting room" these years, waiting for this moment to come? Had I been waiting for this trip to feel that I was really living the life I want? How amazing it is to have dreams and be able to fulfill them, but how "dangerous" it can be to use them as an excuse to wait for "life to begin" until we have achieved them.

The questions kept coming. How many metaphorical "waiting rooms" are there throughout our lives? And how many times do we extend our stay in these "rooms" out of fear or comfort? How many moments do we waste waiting for the next great moment to come, for the book to get to the good part or the song to the chorus? What we sometimes forget is that the good part is in the experience as a whole, even in the silences. In those spaces between one place to another, one moment to the next, and one encounter to another. Moments that usually go unnoticed but that are part of us, of life itself. As this quote from Noemi's piece says:

“Life concentrates in the little holes, in the small gaps on the pavement. Life manifests itself in the unexpected, in the middle and not in the end”.

I have always believed that life is built on the great moments, the extraordinary experiences, and the people who change our lives. Being a person who collects experiences, I realize that I live in constant search of moments that make me feel “alive”, that excite me, that teach me, that change me. But I have also learned that life is built from these little spaces in between, where nothing “extraordinary” seems to be happening. From moments in transition, when we let go to start something else, in which we are not exactly who we were anymore and we are not yet who we will become.

So I am learning to live in those spaces with more awareness, as part of the flow of life and a great opportunity to be present. I am still looking for great experiences, but knowing that my life does not "begin" by having them and that the interstices are part of the richness of the human experience.

On the flight between Istanbul and Indonesia, while everyone was sleeping and nothing seemed to be happening, I decided to open the window. The photos that you see in this article are witness to everything that a space in between can give you, if you pay close attention.


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