50 photographs, 50 stories, of which there is one of the 50 below.
They all start with –
A picture paints … well, as many words as you like. For instance:
And, the story:
Have you ever watched your hopes and dreams simply just fly away?
Everything I thought I wanted and needed had just left in an aeroplane, and although I said I was not going to, I came to the airport to see the plane leave. Not the person on it, that would have been far too difficult and emotional, but perhaps it was symbolic, the end of one life and the start of another.
But no matter what I thought or felt, we had both come to the right decision. She needed the opportunity to spread her wings. It was probably not the best idea for her to apply for the job without telling me, but I understood her reasons.
She was in a rut. Though her job was a very good one, it was not as demanding as she had expected, particularly after the last promotion, but with it came resentment from others on her level, that she, the youngest of the group would get the position.
It was something that had been weighing down on her for the last three months, and if noticed it, the late nights, the moodiness, and sometimes a flash of temper. I knew she had one, no one could have such red hair and not, but she had always kept it in check.
And, then there was us, together, and after seven years, it felt like we were going nowhere. Perhaps that was down to my lack of ambition, and though she never said it, lack of sophistication. It hadn’t been an issue, well, not until her last promotion, and the fact she had to entertain more, and frankly I felt like an embarrassment to her.
So, there it was, three days ago, the beginning of the weekend, and we had planned to go away for a few days and take stock. We both acknowledged we needed to talk, but it never seemed like the right time.
It was then she said she had quit her job and found a new one. Starting the following Monday.
Ok, that took me by surprise, not so much that it was something I sort of guessed might happen, but that she would just blurt it out.
I think that right then, at that moment, I could feel her frustration with everything around her.
What surprised her was my reaction. None.
I simply asked where who, and when.
A world-class newspaper, in New York, and she had to be there in a week.
It was all the time I had left with her.
I remember I just shrugged and asked if the planned weekend away was off.
She stood on the other side of the kitchen counter, hands around a cup of coffee she had just poured, and that one thing I remembered was the lone tear that ran down her cheek.
Is that all you want to know?
I did, yes, but we had lost that intimacy we used to have when she would have told me what was happening, and we would have brainstormed solutions. I might be a cabinet maker but I still had a brain, which was what I overheard her tell a friend once.
There’s not much to ask, I said. You’ve been desperately unhappy and haven’t been able to hide it all that well, you have been under a lot of pressure trying to deal with a group of troglodytes, and you’ve been leaning on Bentley’s shoulder instead of mine, and I get it, he’s got more experience in that place, and the politics that go with it, and is still an ally.
Her immediate superior and instrumental in her getting the position, but unlike some men in his position he had not taken advantage of a situation like some men would. And even if she had made a move, which I doubted, was not the sort of woman she was, he would have politely declined.
One of the very few happily married men in that organisation, so I heard.
So, she said, you’re not just a pretty face.
Par for the course for a cabinet maker whose university degree is in psychology. It doesn’t take rocket science to see what was happening to you. I just didn’t think it was my place to jump in unless you asked me, and when you didn’t, well, that told me everything I needed to know.
Yes, our relationship had a use-by date, and it was in the next few days.
I was thinking, she said, that you might come with me, you can make cabinets anywhere.
I could, but I think the real problem wasn’t just the job. It was everything around her and going with her, that would just be a constant reminder of what had been holding her back. I didn’t want that for her and said so.
Then the only question left was, what do we do now?
Go shopping for suitcases. Bags to pack, and places to go.
Getting on the roller coaster is easy. In the beginning, it’s a slow easy ride, followed by a slow climb to the top. It’s much like some relationships, they start out easy, but they require a little work to get to the next level, follows by the adrenaline rush when it all comes together.
What most people forget is that what comes down must go back up, and life is pretty much a roller coaster with highs and lows.
Our roller coaster had just come or of the final turn and we were braking so that it stops at the station.
There was no question of going with her to New York. Yes, I promised I’d come over and visit her, but that was a promise with crossed fingers behind my back. After a few months in the new job, the last thing she want was a reminder of what she left behind. New friends new life.
We packed her bags, threw out everything she didn’t want, a few trips to the op shop with stuff she knew others would like to have, and basically, by the time she was ready to go, there was nothing left of her in the apartment, or anywhere.
Her friends would be seeing her off at the airport, and that’s when I told her I was not coming, that moment the taxi arrived to take her away forever. I remember standing there, watching the taxi go. It was going to be, and was, as hard as it was to watch the plane leave.
So, there I was, finally staring at the blank sky, around me were a dozen other plane spotters, a rather motley crew of plane enthusiasts.
Already that morning there’s been 6 different types of planes departing, and I could hear another winding up its engines for take-off.
People coming, people going.
Maybe I would go to New York in a couple of months, not to see her, but just to see what the attraction was. Or maybe I would drop in, just to see how she was.
As one of my friends told me when I gave him the news, the future is never written in stone, and it’s about time you broadened your horizons.
Perhaps it was.
© Charles Heath 2020-2023