I started this blog and then stopped. And then started. And stopped. Primarily due to extreme heat in the Los Angeles area. Well, my laptop gets hot (bad battery). But the heat left weeks ago. So in between the heat going and me starting to write this again, I stopped. What’s my excuse? I have no idea. But I started writing again, so here we are. No longer in between.

The “in-between.” That time between saying you’ll do something and doing it. Like, when I said I’d write this blog and the time it was published.

In life, we are often in-between jobs, relationships, vacations, and places. The in-between can be exciting and fun. Or it can be frustrating and scary. It all depends on how we handle it. 

How about booking a vacation? Between the flight confirmation and the actual trip, I fantasize about vacation clothes, activities, and the restaurants I’ll visit. I also reserve the best deals at the best places in advance. There is nothing like the desired snorkel trip, and it’s sold out when you arrive because you didn’t book it. But vacation planning can get excessive. I know! I like to plan so there are no surprises, but it can be detrimental as I get anxious with “what ifs” during that in-between stage. That’s not how
to live! But I minimally want to know where I’m gonna lay my head. And let me tell you why.

Back in the late 70s, when my parents took us on long-haul road-trip vacations, like from Wisconsin to Florida, the only way my parents could get directions was through their travel memories and a foldable paper map. This was long before mobile phones, onboard navigation, and Google. My mom would sit passenger and navigator my father’s driving. This was fine until my dad would get hell-bent on seeing how far he could drive every day. It was like he’d be on a driving “bender.” Sure, we’d stop mid-drive for potty breaks or gas, but his personal driving goal would be forefront until he’d cave into my mom’s begging to pull over “for the kids.” At her urging, he’d surrender to the next motel at the next exit IF it had a vacancy. Or he’d keep driving for the next motel! And the hope that a restaurant was still open. Mom’s premade ham sandwiches and Chex snack mix could only get us so far. But a blinking motel vacancy light was a friendly beacon to my weary brother and me in the back seat. 

The glove box of our 1970s Plymouth station wagon was stuffed with many unsuccessfully unfolded maps. I was amused at my dad’s tenacity, apparent road vendetta, and my mom’s failed attempts to re-fold a paper map. I must say, it is an art to re-fold a paper map. Have you tried it? 

So, when I travel, I like to know my full itinerary ahead of time: Flights, hotel, is there a mini-bar or late-night room service? 

Oh, I have another “in-between” example. Say you bought a house but haven’t got the keys yet, but you’re already buying decorations at Target and fixtures at Home Depot? Whoops! I’ve done this one, home buying – twice, and purchased furnishings in advance! I think it’s normal to plan! There is a lot of fun in this. But I’ve learned with home buying that nothing is guaranteed until the contract is signed and the keys are in hand. Literally, the keys are in hand. Things can change, the result not being as expected, and you’re left with decorations and fixtures for a house you didn’t get. 

It’s normal to fantasize, plan, and prepare, yet it can take away from the present, especially when we can’t do a damn thing about the future. How about the in-between moment of taking a final exam at school and waiting for the results? Or waiting for pathology reports or blood test results? Filing your tax returns and waiting? So, it’s important how we handle the in-betweens. Because the in-between is all, we have. During these times, we must focus on being present and not worrying about what is to come. Easy for me to say, yes? No, it’s not easy. Cancer showed me the truth about scanxiety (anxiety over scans), so I’m learning to stay present between the scan and the result. Still sucks, though.

Now, I’ve had other in-betweens that were beautiful! My most anticipated and longest in-between was when I was pregnant with my son. During those nine months, the in-between, I was very excited about what he would look like, and I even fantasized as far ahead of who’d he become as an adult. It was a beautiful time, and I remember every moment while pregnant. The hopes and expectations. The burps, morning sickness, skin tags, the gorgeous belly, healthy silky hair, and the knowing I’d be blessed with a human who’d call me Mom. But as much as I thought about him during that nine-month in-between,  nothing prepared me for his full head of jet-black hair and dimples at his birth. Oh, those dimples. To this day, those dimples have won him many a mother-son battle. I never once thought about dimples during the in-between because that’s the point: the unexpected can and will happen with anything and everything. It can be unthinkable or beautiful.

While writing about this blog, I’ve thought about how I’ve been in-between. I finished this blog, yet during it, I floated between starting and ending many other moments of life – good and bad. And I remained as present as possible without worrying about what would come next except finishing this blog.

I wish you the best in-between for whatever or wherever you may be.

©Laurie Markvart