Like many this past year, I spent a great deal of time at home. But for a
neighborhood walk or the occasional trip to the grocery store, post office or pharmacy, my world did not extend much beyond the mailbox at the end of the driveway.
My world had become small. Nay, I say, my world had become intimate, personal.
My house has been my home since I was child. And as I move through this space,
I am comforted by the familiarity of the sights, sounds and smells within. I know them well and they know me.
I’ve long felt safer-at-home, but I know, and it pains me to know, that is not true for many…For many, home is all too familiar. Disquieting and unsettling. Even painful and distressing. At best an amalgamation of complicated and conflicting emotions.
And somewhere in the middle, between soothing and troubling, the familiar, in its ever presence, becomes banal, giving way to ennui, and even contempt. Which leads me to
… yet another condition of the familiar. One in which it becomes imperceptible. Almost invisible. For to become banal, the thing must be seen. And seen. Again and again. But in this condition, the familiar fades into the recesses of awareness.
Whether the familiarity of home comforts, vexes, or bores. Is a dear friend, a pernicious
enemy, or a guest who’s overstayed her welcome, as our worlds open up more and more, I offer this TAKE TWO project
For a time,
breath and lean into the familiarity of home
embrace it and use it
Identify something in your home or just outside that you would like to see in a new way
or truly for the first time.
Then photograph it and write about it. Poetry or prose, 100 words or less. Title it. Display it. Or Tuck it away someplace private and special.
The mundane can be reimagined by looking at it in a new way.
The seemingly insignificant can be imbued with meaning, simply by choosing see it. The troublesome feelings that bubble at the sight of that familiar thing can be dispelled by looking at it. Confronting it.
There is power in the gaze.
The kitchen table
host to countless family meals, game nights and late-night conversations,
what does it look like underneath?
The stain in the carpet that never quite came out The chipped paint on the window sill
The dress you wore to your cousin’s wedding The wallpaper in the dining room
The upholstery on the armchair
The necklace bequeathed by your grandmother The porch light
A flower pot
A picture frame
A crack in the sidewalk
Your favorite coffee mug
It could be an object you use daily, walk past without regard, or one you’ve stowed away for safe keeping.
Perhaps the familiar is not an object at all, but a person. Perhaps it is even you.
Consider patterns, textures, colors, shapes and angles when taking your photograph. Consider visual and emotional associations when writing about your subject.
If it is something you adore, take a picture, write about it, and honor it.
If it is something that needles you, take a picture, write about it, and reimagine it. If it is something that haunts you, take a picture, write about it, and exorcise it.
Explore what the familiar has to offer you, to teach you. And please be gentle with yourself when doing do.
Now, let us begin!
A blanket in my home inspired me to write this poem:
Oh my soul, I see
the ridges and the ravines steep and sloping hills
formed by your body
by arching back, twisting limbs by breath and spirit
peak and plain were forged
In the night, whilst slumbering revealed when you rose
~Sylvia Terry, June 5, 2021