Out on a Liminal
The jolly crew over lunch yesterday. Happiest when the jefe is not in sight. He probably knows this and this is why the two older men eat in front of the house, the younger men on my patio in the back.
Liminal—I admit that I looked the word up, and I’m glad I did. I have always thought that since subliminal meant below the threshold of conscious thought, that liminal must refer to conscious thought. Wrong.
Liminal: of or relating to a sensory threshold. 2 : barely perceptible. 3 : of, relating to, or being an intermediate state, phase, or condition : in-between, transitional
So, is my house in a liminal state between completion and constant repair and construction? If so, what is the state after liminal? Perhaps subliminal is the ultimate state rather than the one under liminal. Perhaps it is that state in which everything just goes along smoothly without having to think about it. Water flows, floors stay crack and salitre-free, lightbulbs stay perpetually lit.
Perhaps I’d better look up subliminal as well:
Subliminal: (of a stimulus or mental process) below the threshold of sensation or consciousness; perceived by or affecting someone’s mind without their being aware of it.
One out of two. It means exactly what I thought it did.
Today is the fourth day of construction at my house and the last day of the work week. Thankfully, only six men showed up instead of the usual nine, because that is how many beers I have in the fridge and I didn’t want to have to leave to buy more to treat them at the end of this short work day. The jefe and his assistant seem to have stayed home to leave the other younger men to complete tiling the kitchen and hammer-and-chiseling out the built-in large bathtub to transform it into a shower and construct a small wall to serve in lieu of shower curtain.
At first I was worried that the jefe hadn’t shown up because last night as I surveyed the day’s work, I noticed two problems. One was that the tiles on the front porch were not centered. I can understand that he was lining up the main tile with the tile in the inside of the house, but in fact the porch is more often viewed with the door shut, so as nice a it would have been if they’d taken this into account at the beginning, they didn’t, and so having the line under the door misaligned seems a smaller problem than having the entire porch off-center.
The second problem was that the bottom step in the hall leading down to my bedroom was 1/2 inch deeper on one side than the other. Now, these are the steps that have tripped me up three times in the past year, twice sending me careening headfirst into an edge where two walls meet and rendering me unconscious for a few seconds. So, I don’t need a further contributing factor to my own clumsiness. I do not need one slightly diagonal stair leading up to a square one!
At any rate, I was dreading pointing this out to the grumpy foreman, but the young man I reported it to was very pleasant and equally helpful when I tripped over one of their damn line up wires for positioning the tiles (heavy fishing line strung between two nails pounded into the cracks between the tiles.) This is about the fifth time I’ve tripped over the dangerous things, but this one was tangled but still connected to the two nails even though the tile had long been set, so it would not release, and sent me careening down the front stairs, head-first down onto the terrace.
In all, I probably traveled seven feet horizontally and about a foot from house floor level down to terrace level. If it had been an Olympic event, I might have placed, but as is I just said a few very vile swear words–in English, not Spanish, so perhaps they didn’t have the same effect on listening ears. At any rate, the nice young man who had heard earlier complaints came running to take my camera out of my hands, (Yes, I was going to photograph the misaligned porch tiles.) to help me up and then to remove that damn fishing line that should have been removed two days ago.
So, all in all, I’d say my day so far has been anything but subliminal. But although my entire state for the past week as we moved everything out of the house and then dealt with four days of noise, dust and constant activity has certainly been transitional, it is certainly not been barely perceptible. And in spite of the fact that my stumble and fall over my literal threshold was totally sensory, still, taking the full definition of both terms into account, I seem to be in a state neither liminal nor subliminal.
I’m just lucky that after that nasty spill that my state isn’t terminal!!!! And I can safely say, I think, that my bone density is excellent.