liminal spaces

multi-storey carpark looking out

For me, one of the positive things about the recent coronavirus lockdown has been that there were far fewer cars about and far fewer people in the street.

The decrease in traffic and the halt to normal activities meant that for a few brief weeks the birds were more audible, the green spaces were not quite so tended, and there seemed to be more wildlife around. (Although, to be honest, the only unusual wildlife I saw was a rat in the supermarket car park.)

It was almost as if the world had paused to take a breath.

Another characteristic of the time was that because so many people have parked up their cars for the duration, some of the wonderful historical buildings were visible without any unsightly vehicles spoiling the view.

Georgian houses

But it wasn’t just the monuments and architectural heritage that were now visible; there were other spaces – such as the local council multi-storey carpark – that would normally be impossible to visit and photograph without risking life and limb or being sued for trespass.

empty multi-storey carpark

The apparent pause between two times that we have been experiencing is an example of liminality: a point when we have shaken off the familiar and stand on the threshold of the unknown.

As well as metaphorical liminal spaces like the one lockdown has presented, there are actual physical liminal spaces – the spaces that are really only there to allow us to transition between two places, activities etc.

Corridors, stairwells and lifts, airport terminals, station platforms and car parks are all places that are intended as places of passage, not to stay in. Because of this, we can feel uncomfortable if we have to spend too long in any of them.

empty multi-storey carpark

As we ease out of lockdown and on to whatever comes next, it seems appropriate to post these pictures of the empty carpark.

Looking back at them, though, I see that they really aren’t very good. I’m guessing I was spooked by the liminality of the space – as well as suffering from nervousness due to the liminality of the times we are living – and reluctant to linger long enough to get better pictures. Sadly, I suspect the opportunity is now gone.

multi-storey carpark ramp

Author: don't confuse the narrator

Exploring the boundary between writer and narrator through first person poetry, prose and opinion

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