The plaster is peeling from our kitchen ceiling. The washroom fan is covered in dust. There’s an oil slick the size of Montana on the driveway. And for the last several months the bedroom walls have displayed a few two-foot swatches we painted so that we could pick a color, but we never got around to choosing.
These are things I almost never notice. I only bring them up because I just walked around my house and tried to notice them on purpose. Over the weekend I learned the term hemmablind, a Swedish word that means “blind to things at home.” It’s typically used in a negative way to refer to all the flaws we fail to notice once we’ve become accustomed to them—the dirt around a doorknob, the scratched paint on the banister, and the curtains that aren’t quite level along the floor.
But we’re blind to all kinds of things that are part of home to us. We grow accustomed to our possessions, our neighborhoods, and even our people. Maybe one of the curses and blessings of friendships and even marriage is a healthy dose of hemmablind-ness, a familiarity that allows us to settle in with one another so deeply that we fail to see each other’s flaws. Hemmablindness ain’t all bad unless it means that we aren’t really present, aren’t really taking note of the things worth noting. But sometimes we need something to shake us out of being hemmablind so that we can see what we need to work on… or even to remind us why what we have is so great.
One of the reasons I’ve enjoyed being back in the midwest after so many years in southern California is because of seasons. If being hemmablind were a disease, the shift of seasons is the vaccination. How can one become overly familiar with the world when it is being drastically repainted every three months? The pastel spring ushers in the emerald summer, which gives way to the rust and ochre of autumn, all of it finally surrendering to the whitewashed winter. It’s new again and again and again and again.
For the last month, my early-morning run through the marshland near my home has perfectly aligned with the entrance of autumn. The procrastination of dawn has meant that my month has been full of sunrises. The cold air and warm earth have colluded to grant a mist that renders everything magical. And the crisp mornings have made me feel like I can run for hours.
During this perfect month of mornings I’ve had so many moments when I’ve had to stop and look around and smile and snap a photo and take it all in with a deep and delicious I-am-here-and-fully-here kind of breath.
Already, as the days grow shorter, I’m spending more of my run in the dark. My fingertips are going numb as cool surrenders to the cold. The mist has metamorphosized into frost. The change is sad in a way, but it’s making me look at everything from the beginning again, helping to banish my blindness, helping me see just how good home can be.
Here are a few photos from this month: