I get up early to write. The early morning sky is grey, not even a hint of sunlight. A mix of snow and rain is in the forecast.
I get up early to write; instead I find myself reading. Reading a poignant essay; an essay made of maps and grief, lost things and home. It’s been a long time since I have read an essay that is so powerful in its imagery.
The author is someone who also knows what it is to live between; live between far away and close by, between here and there.
All week I have been thinking of the “in between.” After a time of connection and being my best self I am back where I struggle. I want to be able to say with confidence that this struggle is a thing of the past, that I have outgrown it like the denim overalls I wore in my youth. I can go for months where these feelings lie dormant, sleeping contentedly under busy activity and conversation.
But in those moments of return from places where I feel a sense of belonging, they wake, insomniac in their intensity.
It is in the inside space I have created, a space for books and flowers, white lights and God, that I pour out my heart in admission of my loneliness and disconnect. It is in this space where I am free to admit that living between, as joyous as it often is, has its sadness and loss.
What I have learned is that I am not alone in the in between.
There are millions who understand this space, millions of refugees, immigrants, expatriates, and nomads who daily speak and live this language. The thought comes to me that those who don’t know the in between will need to learn the language of displacement or else find themselves unable to communicate to many in our world.
It is in the language of displacement, the language of elsewhere where empathy lies, where one person reaches out to another and says “I understand”.
This knowing what it is to live between is a hard gift, a severe mercy. For it is in the in between that I find God.
…I realize I have always belonged everywhere at once: on the road; in liminal spaces…I have always belonged at the beginning of the world, and where it seems to end, where the sky meets the sea, where the sea meets the land, on a plane when the two become indistinguishable from one another and you can no longer tell if you are going home or leaving it.*
*A Map of Lost Things: On Family, Grief, and the Meaning of Home by Jamila Osman
Passages Through Pakistan is available! Take a look and read the reviews.