A few years ago, on a trip around Upstate New York I had the pleasure of meeting a well known contemporary American philosopher, writer and translator. The encounter was brief and far more memorable for me than for him, I’m sure. There were many more introductions and mini adventures on that trip, including stopping at a charming toy store in Woodstock where, for the purpose of research for a photo project, I acquired this vintage looking toy horse. I jokingly named the horse after the philosopher who, for the sake of this post, I’ll simply call Al.
Over time, for various reasons, the horse has become a kind of “protector” to me. He usually sits on a chair in the bedroom as part of the decor. From time to time I pick him up in an attempt to channel warmth and luck from this object I’ve assigned the role of Talisman to. Recently, at the very last second as we were heading out the door for Omaha, I grabbed him up and stuffed him in my bag. Going home can be a mixed bag of pleasure and pain and I wanted a good luck charm for the trip. If such things are possible, then little Al did his job, because for the most part, it was a wonderful visit home.
Al sat silently in the hotel room for the duration of the trip. In the back of my mind, I imagined him sweetly sending strength to me as we enjoyed our time around the city I love and I quietly confronted feelings of homesickness and loss. At one point I moved him to the chair in front of a writing desk in the room. When it came time to pack up and go, the chair had been pushed under the desk and Al was out of sight. I neglected to include him among the clothes, shoes, and hair products in my bag. We rushed off to Caffeine Dreams for a spontaneous last cup of coffee with those who could make it, and Al was left behind. The airport was next, and unbeknownst to me, Al remained there in room 233 at the Magnolia Hotel all alone. I didn’t unpack right away so it wasn’t until a couple of days after our return to Buffalo that I discovered his absence. I felt silly and devastated all at once. It was just a silly object after all, but my heart pined away.
I called the hotel and after 2 full days of nerve racking back and forth while the head of housekeeping was on vacation, Al was finally found! I made the arrangements and if all goes well, he’ll be back safely in my hands sometime next week. This whole experience is strangely tied to a photographic project I’m working on now that’s inspired by the loss of a favorite toy when I was a child. Back then I imagined the lost toy coming to life and having adventures in the real world. I wonder, as I laugh a little at the thought, if Al will return with any insights into the mystery that is Omaha, NE, my home.