Do you ever think about the between-places? The ones that separate Here from There, or Then from Now? Artists and other creatives love them for their potential, and fantasists and magical realists can spin wonderful tales of soft places in the world where the fabric of reality is thin. Such places exist within each of us as well, one of the reasons we love alcohol and other mind-altering substances so much is because they can create them for us.
Booze creates a liminal space within a person, slipping room between different facets of the Self. And when multiple people undertake this creation together, the result is a phase space for all requirements, whatever they may be. It springs into being between the boundaries of your usually accepted reality; a place for flirting, dancing, karaoke, confidence, happiness, relaxation, openness, sharing. Not consequence-free, but somehow consequence-lite™: at least, while it exists. If you wake up with the grog horrors, shuddering at the memories of your behaviour, well, whatever you have to reconcile tomorrow morning in the cold light of day is between you and your maker.
Consider your consciousness as a series of rooms. Booze throws open the doors and brings the party out into the hallway. The room of quiet dignity and the room of wanton lust are part of the same floor-plan, but it takes beer to direct a flow between them. The bedroom of ugly-crying and the dance studio are connected by the same passage, and the closet of shame and the relaxation lounge are right down the hall from each other. They just don’t open directly onto each other. The unbridled rage door opens onto the other side of the house from the loving room, but they can always be connected through the implementation of a new set of thresholds.
Alcohol conjures a plane of existence into being, one where you act according to your own strictures. It might be that it’s easier to relax, to unwind, to put your feet up and take a load off in this place. Perhaps you’re too self-conscious to sing or dance, but you feel safe to do so while in the arms of Bacchus. Perhaps you have esteem issues or shyness that prevent you from talking to people you like or doing the things you want to do. Once you enter that calm and happy place, however, it’s easy as blinking to flirt or chat, or open up. Perhaps you are tense and rigidly self-controlled but enjoy the idea of fun and relaxation, only finding yourself able to seriously consider or act on those urges in a safe space, a happy space. And booze creates that space. You are free to explore it as you will; tapping into your creativity or looking into your deepest recesses. Maybe just letting your spirit animal off the chain to roam and romp as it will.
Of course, for some people, this means something dark. A place they wish to flee from. An amoral and abusive place, a violent place. For some, the new space that opens up is unwelcome. Alcohol is also a key to this secret room but, importantly, the room itself already exists. Whether that is a room where you can let your hair down or it’s one in which you scream at your partner, that is all in there already, stacked up in boxes in the corner or scattered across the floor. The booze doesn’t create bottled resentment, anger, rage. It merely gives it a place to be.
Alcohol offers a path to transgression – be it genteel or hedonistic or reprehensible. It gives the nod. It offers no wise council but allows the traversal of new paths of thought or action. This is its power; why some love it, why others fear it and why still more avoid it. It is an almost magical trait, the creation of space. The slipping of a little air into a stuffy conversation, a little wiggle room into a crowded place. A little margin onto a page of tightly written morals and ethics. The ability to open and traverse entirely new routes is one of the most powerfully compelling reasons to quaff the cold, golden nepenthe. But remember – transgression is rarely without its price, and you must be prepared to have that inviting, embracing, forgiving liminality disappear when you find yourself in the real world once more. Exploring the liminal is an important part of truly knowing oneself. Just be sure that you don’t get stuck in a crawlspace.