By Mir
November 3, 2004

One of the joys of moving to public school and first grade is that Chickadee’s world had suddenly expanded due to “Specialists.” Every day her class “does a Specialist,” which is grade-school-speak for going to music, or art, or gym. Part of the excitement is leaving the classroom and switching teachers as well as locales, making Specialist time quite special indeed.

While most of the Specialists are doing similar things to what she did in private kindergarten last year, the attainment of a gymnasium full of equipment has been the pinnacle of exotic change. I struggle to follow along as she tells me stories on Monday afternoon (“Monday is Gym Specialist!”) of elaborate games involving some children being wolves with rubber chickens while others are hunters on scooter boards, pulling tote bags. I have to admit, it sounds fun (if a bit complicated).

Early in the year, they had a limbo contest during gym. My Chickadee excelled at this, and no wonder. Those are some tricky little birdie feet she has, and very flexible knees, all to go along with her surprising strength that seems impossible for a wisp of a kid. But limbo she did, and limbo she has ever since. “Evvvvvvvverybody liiiiiiiiimbo!” she’ll call out as she drops her shoulders back and shimmies under my arm resting on the bathroom doorway. “Hey Mama, put your hand on the counter,” she’ll exhort as we’re standing in the kitchen. Once I comply she’s dancing under my forearm with a huge grin. “Look how low I can go, Mom!”

It occurred to me today that once again my daughter and I are reflecting one another through a filter that renders us similar but oh-so-different. She is dancing with abandon, relishing how low she can go. I am living that other limbo, seeing how low I’ve sunk, and waiting for the inevitable shift in balance that will send me crashing to the ground.

Today I have been unemployed for exactly fifty-four weeks. I have formally applied for thirty-five different jobs (that doesn’t include networking and informational contacts). It would appear that I am still without employment.

It feels like every other statement out of my mouth starts with, “Once I….” Once I get him out of the house, I can start figuring things out. Once I have the divorce finalized, I can move on. (Um, the divorce has been finalized for eight months, now. Apparently I am awaiting a written invitation to start living again.) Once I have a job, I can make some financial decisions. Once I don’t have to pay for daycare anymore, I can work a crap job and actually have some money. Once I start dating again, I… hmm. I don’t actually know what that last one would mean, other than that hell has frozen over.

My world has been in limbo for so long, I’m not sure I’d know how to resume moving forward if the perfect moment smacked me upside the head. In the meantime, I find myself wistful and jealous to behold my daughter’s giggles as she contorts her body to slide under obstacles. Me? I’ve been treading water in a very small, very cold pond for what is starting to feel like eternity. I’m tired. A review of the choices that brought me to the present shakes my confidence to the point where doing nothing seems safer than trying anything.

Limbo: It’s probably a nice place to visit, but it sure sucks to live here.


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