Ever since I can remember, I have always lived in what I often refer to as an “in-between” space or “in-between spaces.” That just means that in a world that is defined by boundaries and by categories,  the in-between space is the undefined space in between the defined spaces.

These are spaces in which the categories about who we are supposed to be are not clearly defined. We thus have the freedom in these spaces,  to define and develop identities that take in different elements from the defined worlds. In other words, in these spaces, we can choose to be anything we want. We can define ourselves according to our own rules, based on what we like about the worlds we encounter.

Let’s take my “nationality identities” as an example. As a Malawian-born American-raised individual who was socialized in a Ghanaian-American context in Arlington, Texas amongst a heterogeneous and wide range mixture of African-Americans and first generation “American Africans,” which is actually my space?

The reality is that depending on the day of the week, and what is motivating and inspiring me, I can feel like any of them and from time to time, can feel like all of them. I find myself crossing over and living amongst all these spaces. I understand and speak most of their languages, can feel their subtle quirks, and can often times translate “them” to the “others” and vice-versa.

I share this to say, for some of us, the only “home” we will ever know is in these “in-between” spaces. These “in-between” spaces can be applied to nationality, they can be applied to gender identify, to where one feels like they belong spiritually and religiously and so on and so forth.

Recognizing that it is in the “in-between” spaces that we feel most comfortable, doesn’t mean that we don’t really have a home. All it means is that our home is defined by the many footprints that we have left in the many spaces that we have been.

Because these “in-between” spaces are where we most feel at home, there is an opportunity for us to use the language that we know; a language that has life as a result of the many categories that encompass who we are.  There is power in being able to float and transcend in many spaces, which enables us  to translate what we hear and what we see in ways that can touch many different types of people.

We live “in between spaces” and we build bridges. That is just who we are. And because of that, we have the great privilege to be able to look at the world from a peculiar perspective and are able to speak many languages, and are able to belong without really belonging. These to me are rich experiences that we must allow to influence our work as we share stories, and as we continue to work towards creating a world that is a lot more tolerant of difference;  a world that accepts and celebrates the in between.

Here is a poem that is so close to my heart, and that resonates with my “in-betweeness.” I hope it speaks to you, as it does to me.

-Unravel Away Artist-

The Bridge Poem

By: Donna Kate Rushin (1981)

 I’ve had enough

I’m sick of seeing and touching

Both sides of things

Sick of being the damn bridge for everybody

Nobody

Can talk to anybody

Without me Right?

I explain my mother to my father my father to my little sister

My little sister to my brother my brother to the white feminists

The white feminists to the Black church folks the Black church folks

To the Ex-hippies the ex-hippies to the Black separatists the

Black separatists to the artists the artists to my friends’ parents…

Then

I’ve got the explain myself

To everybody

I do more translating

Than the Gawdamn U.N.

Forget it

I’m sick of it

I’m sick of filling in your gaps

Sick of being your insurance against

The isolation of your self-imposed limitations

Sick of being the crazy at your holiday dinners

Sick of being the odd one at your Sunday Brunches

Sick of being the sole Black friend to 34 individual white people

Find another connection to the rest of the world

Find something else to make you legitimate

Find some other way to be political and hip

I will not be the bridge to your womanhood

Your manhood

Your human-ness

I’m sick of reminding you not to

Close off too tight for too long

I’m sick of mediating with your worst self

On behalf you your better selves

I am sick

Of having to remind you

To breathe

Before you suffocate

Your own fool self

Forget it

Stretch or drown

Evolve or die

The bridge I must be

Is the bridge to my own power

I must translate

My own fears

Mediate

My own weaknesses

I must be the bridge to nowhere

But my true self

And then

I will be useful

    -from This Bridge Called My Back