*Part 4 of the ED BANNISTER series. Extract from my Photography blog, Through Frog Eyes. Each month a guest photographer is featured and a short story is woven around a set of photographs. This is where photography and creative writing find a common platform. For this month, all the stories will be connected in a series, ushering in Thanksgiving and Advent. Please click on the link to read the previous stories and the complete version of the story below with the full set of photographs.
Standing alone in the empty office and what used to be his living pace for a while, Alexander surveyed the stack of boxes in the middle of the room and the solitary black couch. The movers were scheduled to pick up all his equipment and files that morning to be shipped back to Germany. Some of the items would be sent to Brussels and be kept in the vault. He had moved so often over the years that this was routine to him now, but in spite of that, it was unavoidable for him to feel that sense of loss each time he vacated the premises. There was something therapeutic in packing though, giving a much needed closure that you wouldn’t get with simply walking out and away.
As he boarded the plane for London, he was suddenly swept away by a wave of nostalgia. It was Thanksgiving weekend and although it wasn’t his holiday to celebrate being European, it was one of the American traditions he had come to appreciate. He envied the effort people put into flying home to be with their loved ones. In some cases, families placed greater importance on Thanksgiving than Christmas, Hannukah, or New Year. The choice of career did not lend itself to family and making promises to be home on or by a particular date, so while others were gathering around the Christmas tree or dinner table, Alexander was caught up in some exotic place that had no holiday trimmings. At best, if he got lucky and happened to be in-between assignments, Alexander grabbed his camera equipment and drove up the mountains, regardless of what country he was in. If holidays were about being in peaceful solitude and counting your blessings, five meaningful days in nature were far better than any church service or family reunion he could ever attend.
Long intercontinental flights were usually the time to catch up on his work, draft articles, and if he allowed himself the luxury, to read a book. He would change planes in Chicago and New York, so that eliminated the sleep option. He was too hyper to close his eyes at the moment anyway, with a million things on his mind. His mind drifted towards an old friend and photographer partner on certain assignments whom he hadn’t heard from in a while. Like him, she moved around on assignments and was never easy to pin down for a dinner date. There were times when they collaborated on assignments and could share pizza-and-comedy evenings to relax and de-stress.
They worked well together and could read each other’s movements without even speaking, but there were also limits that they both respected. When time allowed, they also teamed up for charity shoots in children’s hospitals , something Alexander treasured. She had dropped off the radar completely for the last month and that was never a good sign.
He had set his sight even to a photo shoot in Bryce Canyon in the hope Stefanie might join him there to say his favorite line he had ever heard her utter the first time they went there together: “loved the cheese, adore the sunrise but could you pass the eons please?”. His body stiffened in his seat as he suddenly remembered the envelope she had thrust in his hands the last time they were together. “If I don’t make it to our appointment in Bryce Canyon as agreed Alex, take this to my lawyer in Brussels, he will have further instructions for you.”