Interstices

Sure, I’ve been here before—here being now, 2020. Oh, yes. Many times.

My life, all 60 plus years of it, has moved in chunks of decade-long events briefly bisected with what I’d call “stultifying interstices of nothingness,” aka “limbo.”

I’m in one now with not much I can do about it. Work got rearranged due to the holidays (and COVID-19) this year, so I’m left twiddling my thumbs until Jan. 4.

These periods are not worth fearing since they’ve often portended momentous—and usually positive—changes ahead. For example, birth was a pretty big deal. That “nothingness” brought on the 1960s, my first decade. Its events were a blur of “learning the ropes” and overwhelming sensory stimuli. The first interstice was probably around 1969-1970, just before we moved from Maryland to Minnesota. I wrote about that “prison sentence” here, when I was around 10 years old.

My second decade was probably the best: 1971 to 1980. That was filled with school and new friends, many of whom I still see. But after I graduated high school in 1978, I was stuck in a new interstice—college or work? Work or college? Which direction would I take? That second decade wouldn’t become eventful until I started doing both: attending community college and working full-time. It was a lot to bite off, but I shake my head to this day about how nimbly I changed from one to the other, many times over.

That leads us to where we are now: The third decade, which didn’t firmly begin until 1993. The hesitation was born of fear—of leaving a steady corporate job for freelancing in December 1992. Even after steeling my will to the sticking spot and making the split, it took months to settle into new digs (shown above and at left, photographed in the summer of 2020) at 108 Pierce Street in Saint Paul, Minnesota, in August 1993. My apartment, coming in at $390 a month, was cozy, with its back bedroom, claw-footed bathtub and shower, galley kitchen and tiny dining area, and spacious living room sided by windows facing east and south (in the above photo, it’s the off-street upper unit with a view of the back alley), it was—for me at the time—a slice of heaven. I felt stable, revitalized, and able to think about my new business, Available Light Creative.

On Monday, Sept. 6, 1993, I wrote about my new life after a visit out west to my old stomping grounds in Mound. I’d stopped into my friend John Larson’s new business, Larson Printing, to see about getting Available Light Creative envelopes made.

“John was in a bad mood,” I wrote in the journal. “I think I told them about my plans for the trip out west and living in the city and I recall feeling really bad about the visit. It was like they were sorry they never changed: nothing happens here sort-of-thing. The Eeyores (A.A. Milne) of Mound. Part of me is extremely glad I don’t live there anymore. I walk around St. Paul/Merriam Park and though it’s not paradise it IS a place among many in which to live. There is a wider variety of people here with diverse backgrounds and opinions: can’t say much of that about Mound…a phalanx of suburban fear and ennui, fighting a world that may or may not exist, but not really helping anything. Just running from problems. It really makes me sad for them.”

Well, perhaps I was doing the same, only in the city. I can only say that the decade ahead would be fraught with realities and frustrations I couldn’t yet see in the autumn of 1993. I might have been coming from a place of renewed vigor. At least that’s my best guess.

And I’d kept working away at The Wandering Moon screenplay, befriending a budding agent named Diana Seyb, who would be moving to Hollywood that fall. She convinced me to be one of the first screenwriters signed to her agency. By the beginning of October I joined my screenwriter friend Bob Ozasky (who later appeared as a state trooper in the Coen brothers’ Fargo) as an extra on the set of Little Big League, shooting at the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport.

The movement away from the early ’90s interstice began that October. I met writer-producer Mark Frost (“Hill Street Blues,” “Twin Peaks”) at a reading in St. Paul around that time and we chatted about my script. He told me to tell Diana hello when I next saw her, so I felt I was moving into a new and exciting track in my life. I was also planning a public reading of my script with local actors directed by a Shakespearean actor named Terry Ward after I returned from California that November.

That early autumn of 1993 was beautiful. I remember it fondly. I recall walking up to my local independent bookstore, The Hungry Mind, or buying groceries from R.C. Dicks just two blocks west. My neighborhood seemed cheerful and serene.

On Monday, Oct. 3, 1993, I wrote in the journal about my upcoming flight to Houston to meet up with Diana where the two of us would drive her worldly possessions to West Hollywood. “So I’m not a little anxious about this trip. There is nothing I can foresee about it. I get the sense from everyone who knows about it that it’s important. I sort of feel the anxiety I felt just before going to Britain for the first time in 1982. I think the important thing is to make GOOD USE of these opportunities.”

I think the biggest takeaway about interstices is how when you’re in them they seem to last forever.

And when you’re out, you wonder why you worried about them at all.

~ by completelyinthedark on December 31, 2020.

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