Multi-Dimensional Relationship

Two-dimensional relationships are on my mind today.

My friend Jennifer triggered my thoughts when she said something like, “Annie Rose, you want to be seen in all of your dimensions. Right now you’re seen in two dimensions, and you want to be seen in three dimensions.”

I wondered, what does it mean to be two- or three-dimensional? And what does it mean for relationships? I started to think about it.

I have several friends with whom I primarily keep in touch via Whatsapp. We chat almost daily, and I learn a lot about them through flat words on a digital screen.

Sometimes I feel like I’m missing out on something.

Today I sent one of my friends a voice message—the first in a while. He responded back, mentioning that it was good to hear my voice. I realized that I too wanted to hear his voice, and that doing so would actually provide me with something that was missing.

This same friend sometimes sends me pictures throughout the day. I see his home, his kids, his car, his workspace—little square pictures of his daily life. I love those pictures, and I depend on them to get a sense of who he is. His pictures add a dimension to our otherwise flat relationship (which, I must mention, is only flat because we live in different countries and time zones).

Many of us participate in two-dimensional relationships because they’re convenient and our digital age is conducive to them. We chat with people on flat, two-dimensional surfaces, and we get a sense of who people are and what their lives are like through flat media. Sometimes we add pictures, voice messages, and videos, and all of those help breathe additional dimensions into our interactions.

When I engage with a person’s typed words, I gain access to one dimension—his words, or his thoughts essentially. I must imagine his voice, his actions, and his way of being. Even if I have a great sense of who he is, those dimensions of his are flattened.

When I engage with a person’s photographs, often accompanied by words, I gain access to yet another dimension—one that gives me a sense of his perspective and how he relates to the world in front of him. His life ceases to exist in my imagination, and I get a real sense of his broader dimensions.

When I engage with a person’s voice, I gain access to another dimension. I hear his cadence and tone, and many of his words and thoughts come to life.

When I engage with a person’s video, I experience his words, voice, perspective, and way of being. I get to witness his actions. I get to hear and see his emotions and get a sense of his surroundings. He becomes almost three-dimensional.

When I engage with a person in person, I experience everything about him—at least that which he presents to me—and I get a truly three-dimensional experience. I engage all of my senses, and I experience him as who he actually is.

And I noticed, just as I wrote the sentence above, that when we find ourselves face to face with someone who has hidden or flattened some of their dimensions, we truly sense that we are in the presence of two-dimensionality, don’t we? We sense when someone is not interacting through three-dimensionality.

All of that said, I don’t believe that any dimension of interaction is better or worse than the other. They are simply distinct. Sometimes two-dimensional interactions are perfectly satisfying, and other times three-dimensional interactions are a must. We get to say what we need and when.

I’m noticing that I need a balance of the two, and that each can be equally satisfying depending on my needs in the moment.

What about you?

In love and liminality,

Annie Rose

Scrubbing Clean

My husband and I just bought our first house together in Los Angeles.

We’re so happy.

He asked me yesterday if it felt like home yet.

I paused, considered, and said yes.

I wondered about that. Our offer on the house was accepted months ago. We just got the keys last week. The house is a mess and needs lots of work. It’s dirty, tattered, and not yet beautiful. We haven’t even moved in.

But it has good bones and great soul, and both of us can sense that.

Yet I realized today that that is not why it feels like home.

It feels like home because I’m scrubbing it clean.

I’m peeling wall paper. Scrubbing the insides of cabinets. Removing layers of dust and cobwebs.

I’m spackling holes, repairing splintered wood, and replacing ineffective hardware.

We’re buffing out pet stains on the hardwood floors, replacing broken pieces of everything, and raking the yard clean, pass by pass. We’re painting. Grouting. Replacing. Resolving.

I love this work. I love cleaning. I love turning something shabby into something beautiful.

My favorite aisles at Home Depot are the cleaning supply aisle and the organization aisle. I love the possibility of cleanliness and order.

My house feels like home because I’m bringing cleanliness and order to it. Tending to it, really. I am getting to know it inside and out, square-inch by square-inch. There are no secrets between my house and me. I’ve witnessed her dirtiest corners and most broken pieces. I’ve lovingly scrubbed her, swept her, and patched her up.

I love tending to things.

I especially love tending to relationships. I know many of us do.

I notice and I care when something is dirty, broken, or out of place in my relationships. I pay attention to the corners that need dusting, the surfaces that need wiping clean, and the broken pieces that need repairing.

Sometimes I get lazy and my relationships grow dusty or even grimy. But I always return to them, tend to them, and restore them.

I have this best friend who sometimes texts me and says, “You feel really distant today. Is everything ok?” Or I’ll text her and say, “Is everything good between us? Something feels off.”

It’s important, I think, to check in with each other.

Humans hide disrepair so much better than houses do.

My mom and I always leave each other saying, “All is well.” It’s our way of saying to each other that even if we bicker or disagree with each other, our house is in order and our home is clean.

My dad and I often check in, “Are we good?” If not, we always address it.

Sometimes I’m nervous when I tend to relationships. There is always a chance that I’ll feel vulnerable, guilty, or, quite frankly, like I’ve been a bad friend.

But it always feels so good when the corners of my relationships are swept and scrubbed clean.

Sometimes I save my relationship cleaning for the weekend, and sometimes I wish I could hire someone else to do my relationship dirty-work.

But neither of those ever seems to work in the long run.

Have you ever had the experience, by the way, that your house is really clean and beautiful and then you move out or rearrange a room and realize that you’ve actually been living in filth?

Sometimes relationships are like that, right?

I always appreciate it, therefore, when my loved ones let me know that I need to tend to them. My relationships, all combined, comprise so much of who I am.

And I really want to feel I’m at home.

In love and liminality,

Annie Rose


Living a Liminal Life is Not for Suckers

When I was little, I used to rearrange my room on a regular basis. I never replaced old furniture or décor with new stuff—I simply put the head of my bed against a new wall, my dresser alongside a different door, my pictures and posters in new places.

I distinctly remember going to sleep feeling incredibly uncomfortable each time I did so. I felt creeped-out and weird, my brain thrown off by getting into bed from a new direction, heading toward my desk from a different angle, and looking for posters in places they no longer were.

Then, after a few days, comfort would replace discomfort, and my “new” room would become my old room. My brain would relax, and my entire being would relax into a space of normalcy. Each of those times I reorganized my room, I pushed myself into a liminal space, even if only for a few days.

The Mirriam-Webster dictionary defines “liminal” as something that is “of or relating to a sensory threshold” or “barely perceptible”. Anthropologists define “liminality” as the quality of ambiguity or disorientation that occurs in the middle stage of rituals, when participants no longer hold their pre-ritual status but have not yet begun the transition to the status they will hold when the ritual is complete.

In all of our lives, we find ourselves in liminal spaces, whether we know it or not. We graduate from college and start working full time. We end one relationship and become single or start a new one. Someone we know dies. We fail at something at which we knew we’d succeed. We learn of a new word, idea, or theory and we see ourselves, others, and our world in new ways. We develop a new inner or emotional capacity, and we see our circumstances through new filters. We lose our filters. We make a new friend and develop new ideas of what it means to be connected. We get married. We get divorced. We make and deliver a baby. We become a husband, a wife, a sister, a mother, a father, a failure, or a success. We fall in love. We no longer know who we are. We become something we weren’t before, but we’re still not who we’re going to be.

Life constantly throws us into the liminal space. Sometimes we stay there for minutes; other times for hours, days, weeks, months, or even years. The amount of time we spend there is often out of our control or is, many times, indicative of our willingness and capacity to stay in the unknown.

Last year, I walked El Camino de Santiago, a pilgrimage across Spain. I walked 520 miles in 30 days. I started my journey by leaving my husband, friends, family, job, city, and material possessions behind (with the exception of the fourteen pounds of clothes and gear I carried on my back). I flew to Madrid, took a bus to north-eastern Spain, and started to walk.

What followed was a constant entering and exiting of the liminal space. Flight to Madrid by myself? Unfamiliar. Flight to another country? Familiar. Bus by myself to a new-to-me part of Spain? Unfamiliar. Bus in a foreign country? Familiar. Alberque (hostal) in new city? Totally unfamiliar. Alberque in Spain on El Camino? Familiar. (I walked another route of El Camino ten years earlier.)

Yet despite some familiar experiences, the entire journey took place in the liminal space to varying degrees of intensity. It blew my mind and rocked my familiar world.

Living in the liminal space, let’s be clear, is not for suckers. It’s for the daring. It’s for people who live life fully, not because doing so is the trend, but because, when they look at it, there are no other options.

Living a liminal life is for the transformers; the movers and shakers; the revolutionaries; the adventurous. It’s for the experiencers. The lovers. The people who engage in the washing machine of life, intentionally or not, and keep on living despite of, and in service to, constant challenge, heartbreak, transition, and confusion.

Living in the liminal space is for people who grow, expand, explore, and look at the world with curious eyes. It’s for people who live life, witnessing and engaging in life’s action and maneuvering, as best they can, through road blocks, barriers, and detours.

I happen to believe that living a liminal life is for everyone. Said another way, I believe it’s something that everyone just does. If you’ve ever gone to an unfamiliar place, changed your relationship status, moved to a new house, changed jobs, changed schools, changed friends, tried something new, traveled to another city, country, or state, read a book that changed your life, had an experience—good or bad—that changed your life, or otherwise found yourself in a state of change, transition, or newness, you’ve lived—no matter how long—in a liminal space.

The liminal space is responsible, in our selves, our families, our communities, and our world—for change. For transformation! For evolution! For revolution! It knocks down structures and rearranges life. It’s for you. For me. For all of us.

This blog is about adventures in liminal living. I hope you’ll join me in an exploration!

With love and liminality,

Annie Rose Stathes