July 21st, 1990

July 21st, 1990

Hotel InterContinental

Nairobi, Kenya

Met several crew from Koninklijke Luchtvaart Maatschappij, the airline more commonly known as KLM Royal Dutch Airlines! I only know the legal name because Lorna tried to get me to pronounce one night after we’d had several cocktails.

It was like a leggy blonde convention by the pool today with all the KLM girls. Thankfully, it was a little chilly so I had the perfect excuse to remain covered up!

I find it interesting that the flight from London to Holland is less than an hour, where there’s such a language barrier, so much so that much of the conversation relies on body language. Then there’s America, thousands of miles away, where I feel right at home (especially in LA!) and generally don’t have any problems communicating.

Being with the KLM girls made me think of Lorna and how amazing it is that she’s more or less living in Holland full-time, learning what appears to be a difficult language, all whilst still flying for British Airways.

Gives me hope that I might be able to pull off the Los Angeles move after all. I bought a chess set made of soapstone in the market today, now all I need is a place to put it!

 

July 20th, 1990

July 20th, 1990

Flight from LHR – NBO

Hotel InterContinental, Nairobi, Kenya

Spent the morning in Millie’s garden, guzzling pot after pot of milky tea and slices of buttery toast. The time flew by and all of a sudden it was time to get ready and go to work.

We stayed up half the night talking so I’m more than ready to crawl into bed.

Goodnight from Kenya.

 

July 19th, 1990

July 19th, 1990

At Millie’s, Surrey

No drinking tonight as Millie and I are flying tomorrow. It’s been so nice spending time with her, having a good old chin wag, which is so much better than talking on the phone, especially when one of you (not I!) laughs so hard they double over and end up falling off the chair!

Millie’s house is so, “her,” with all of her artwork and comfy couches and cool stuff she’s picked up on trips. Makes me long to have my own place where I can create lovely, welcoming spaces.

“So, are you really serious about this whole, ‘I might move to LA,’ thing?”

“Uh-huh.”

“What prompted it?”

“Ehm, well…”

“You had better not say Ben.”

“Why would I?”

“Because it’s obvious he still has you firmly in his clutches.”

“No he doesn’t!”

“Did you see him again after you dropped him off at his parent’s house?”

“Maybe,” I said, feeling my cheeks redden.

“I knew it!”

“It’s hard not to see him when he’s so close by, which, thankfully is no longer the norm.”

“Arghhhh, you’re supposed to be in love with David!”

“I am but…”

“There’s no but. You either are or..”

“I am, I think I am.”

“Until Ben shows up.”

“I only saw him once.”

“Once it all it takes with him. Argh, I could throttle you!”

“Please don’t,” I said, as demurely as I could. “I’m rather enjoying my tea.”

“Oh, Madison,” she smiled. “What will become of you?”

 

July 18th, 1990

July 18th, 1990

At home

I was up with the birds this morning and grabbed the post the minute the postman put it through the letterbox and when I tore open my new roster, I let out a scream. Mum came dashing out of the kitchen.

“Wit happened?”

“Look,” I said, holding out my roster. “Look, look, look, look, look!”

“Uff,” she sighed, with her hand on her chest. “I thought you’d hurt yourself, don’t scare me like that again. Wit am I looking at?”

“Right there,” I said pointing.

“Sea? Where’s that?”

“Seattle, but not that one, the one above it.”

“Lax?”

“Yes!”

“Where’s that?”

“Los Angeles!”

“Och, that’s brilliant,” she said, smiling widely.

“Yes. It. Is!” I shouted, dancing up and down the hall.

“When are you going?”

“July the thirty-first.”

Twice in one month!

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

July 17th, 1990

July 17th, 1990

At home

Just had a lovely chat with Florence, over a bottle of wine.

“Ooh, Karen, love, I can barely keep up with you at the mo!”

I laughed. “Nor can I!”

“I’m glad David seems committed to making this all work. Sounds very promising.”

“And he also mentioned us seeing each other again this month.”

“Ooh, you better hurry up!”

“I know, right? Not quite sure how we’ll swing that but I like his intention.”

“Aw.”

“What?”

“I’ll miss you when you move to America. I love it when you pop over for a cup of tea and we end up drinking wine.”

“Me too but who said anything about me moving?”

“Oh, love,” she said her smile wide. “Look at you. You’re glowing.”

“It’s hot in here,” I said, pretending to fan myself.  “Kidding aside though, I might have a plan.”

“Oh, go on,” she said, handing me a glass of wine.

“Cheers. I was thinking that maybe I could live in LA some of the time.”

“And give up flying?”

“Oh no, not at all. Quite a few long-haul crew live in other countries. I’ve even heard of a few that live in Australia.”

“Australia?”

“British Airways offer all sorts of different contracts for crew that aren’t full time and they’re

always looking for volunteers.”

“What about your new house?”

“I could rent it out.”

“You haven’t even lived in it yet, by the way when is that happening?”

“Oh, I meant to tell you, I spoke to the estate agent this morning. He said it should only be another week or so before I get the keys.”

“I’m so proud of you love,” she said, beaming.

“So, I was thinking, the rent I get from the new house could cover the mortgage with some left over, so maybe I could go to a fifty percent contract and when it’s not flying time, I could live in LA.”

“Hmmmm,” she uttered.

“You don’t think it’s a good idea?”

“What do your mum and dad think?”

“I haven’t had a chance to talk to them about it yet, I only just thought of it this afternoon.”

She sighed. “It’s just so far away isn’t.”

“Yes, but it would at least let me get to know the area and start making my own friends and all that.”

“That’s true and I’m sure David would love having you around.”

I laughed. “Hopefully!”

“Of course he would. He’s in love with you. Maybe you could live with him?”

“No, no, no,” I said, shaking my head. “If I decide to go ahead with this, it has to be on my terms. I’d need my own place.”

“You being an only child and all that.”

I shot her a look of mock disapproval.

“As well as,” she laughed, holding up her index finger. “As well as a fierce, independent young woman.”

I clinked my glass to hers. “That’s more like it!”

 

July 16th, 1990

July 16th, 1990

At home

Ben is home visiting his mum and dad for a couple of days, so he asked if I’d pick him up at Gatwick, which meant backtracking because I landed at Heathrow but with the not too distant memory of lugging a heavy suitcase on the tube and train, I agreed to go get him.

It felt strange waiting for him, knowing we’d said goodbye only twelve hours before, six thousand miles away in what really does feel like a different world. One I really, really like!

I watched as Ben came out of the terminal and when he spotted my car, he gave a little uncharacteristic wave that, for some reason, made me chuckle. I got out and opened the boot, by which time he was by my side.

“Can I put mine on top of yours?” He asked, his tone, flirtatious.

“If you must,” I said, helping him ease his suitcase into the small space.

Knowing how much I dislike driving in heavy traffic, Ben didn’t speak until we were well on our way.

“How was your flight?”

“Miserable.”

“Horrible passengers?”

“No, the passengers were lovely, the flight wasn’t even that busy.”

“Oh, the lover boy thing?”

“Stop calling him that!  His name is David.”

“Ok, ok,” he said, raising his hands in a gesture of surrender.

“Let’s talk about something else. Like, for example, your love life.”

“My love life is going swimmingly,” he grinned.

“With?”

“Mandy of course.”

“That’s still on?”

“Yeah, why? Did you think otherwise?”

“I have to admit, I did, yeah. I thought that was over ages ago.”

“What can I say? The girl can’t get enough of me.”

“Lucky her,” I said, sarcastically.

“I wasn’t that bad, was I?” he asked, suddenly sounding serious.

“No, not at all,” I lied.

For the next minute or so, he fumbled with the dial on the radio, skipping from station to station.

Finding nothing suitable, he gave up and relaxed into the seat.

“Love’s a funny ole thing, isn’t it?”

“How so?” I asked.

“Well, you think it’s going one way then it takes a turn and you end up with somebody you didn’t expect.” He paused. “Do you feel like that?”

“No,” I said, shaking my head. “I don’t feel at all like that.”

“What would you say if I told you Mandy and I are moving in together?”

 I’d say Big Mistake. For her!

“Seriously?”

“Yeah, we’ve been talking about it for a while, I think it’s time to bite the bullet.”

“Wow, well, eh, good for you.”

Bad for Mandy!

“Do you think you’ll end up moving to LA?”

I sighed. “I don’t know.”

“I’m sure the thought has crossed your mind.”

“I can’t say it hasn’t.”

“Especially now.

“Why now?” I asked.

“Now you’re in love and all that.”

Yes. Now I’m in love. Again.

 

 

 

 

 

July 15th, 1990

July 15th, 1990

Night flight from LAX – LHR

Feeling utterly miserable as we wing our way home on the BA 282 which, thankfully, isn’t very busy. Some of the crew are taking advantage of the bunks on this two hour crew rest but I have too much I need to write.

The sadness began creeping in the minute the alarm woke us up at seven this morning, which, on a Sunday ought to be a crime. In between people watching on The Strand, we ate breakfast on the roof and chatted nonstop about nothing in particular.

In the car on the way to the hotel, David shocked me by asking how many kids I think I’d like.

“One,” I stated, with no forethought.

“No way. Only children are a nightmare,” he said, trying not to laugh, as I playfully whacked his leg. “Let’s try this again. How many kids do you see yourself with?”

He shook his head when I gave the same answer.

“Ok,” I said. “Your turn.”

“Three,” he said, with no hesitation. “Definitely three. At least.”

I laughed. “Wow, good luck with that!”

He squeezed my thigh and I watched him grin. He didn’t take his eyes off the road but his expression was so beautiful that I took a snapshot of it in my mind and know that image will be with me for a long time to come.

I felt the lump forming in my throat long before we got to the hotel and when we pulled into the parking spot I swallowed hard.

“Have a nice time with your family, I hope your mum enjoys her birthday.”

He squeezed my hand. “I wish you were coming with me.”

“Me too,” I said, my voice, cracking.

“Let’s figure out a way to get together again this month.”

“This month?”

“Yeah, why not,” he shrugged, gently wiping a tear off my cheek. “We can figure this out, I know we can.”

“I’d love that.”

“Deal?”

“Deal,” I said, kissing him one last time.

The lobby was a hive of activity and I had a quick chat to some of my crew that were meeting for breakfast but aside from not being hungry, I knew I needed to cry so I went straight to my room.

I recognized Ben’s scribbly handwriting the second I opened my door and picked up the envelope. My first instinct was to tear it open but instead, I left it on the bed and went to take a shower. I’m a true believer that there’s no better place to sob your heart out, than in the shower and today was no exception.

By the time I emerged from what looked like a steam room, I felt much better but the prospect of spending the day alone was not at all appealing. Ben’s note taunted me from its spot on the bed and I tried to ignore it but clearly, willpower isn’t exactly my strong point.

Hey you give me a ring, I’m in room 301.

I met him in the lobby twenty minutes later.

“Fancy a stroll down to Venice Beach?” he asked, his voice a little shaky.

“Yeah, that sounds good.”

As we walked, an awkward silence between us, the irony of us being together in a place we’d long talked about visiting and maybe even living someday, was not lost on me.

Ben was the first one to speak.

“Are you in love with him?”

“Why are you asking?”

He shook his head. “Has he told you he loves you yet?”

“Uh huh,” I muttered.

He stopped in his tracks. “When did he tell you?”

I stopped and stared at him. “Two hours ago.”

 

July 14th, 1990

July 14th, 1990

At David’s, Manhattan Beach, California

This morning over tea (coffee for David) and toast we looked through tons of pictures from David’s past and each time I asked to see more, he laughed.

“You can ask my mom to show you more tomorrow.”

I gave him a questioning look. “What? Tomorrow? What’re you talking about?”

“I thought you could come to San Diego with me.”

“I fly home tomorrow.”

“This is your last night here?”

“Yeah, did you think I was staying longer?”

“Yeah, I, I…,” he said, scratching his head.

“What’s happening in San Diego?”

“It’s my mom’s birthday, we’re having a huge family party. I already told my folks I was bringing you.”

“Oh,” I uttered, stuck on the fact that not only had he told his parents about me but was willing to introduce me.

“There’s no way you can come?”

“How far is San Diego?” I asked, trying to think of ways I could pull a sickie and remain in la la land. Forever.

“It’s like a three-hour drive, maybe less with weekend traffic.”

“Shit! I’m sorry, there’s no way, pick up time is around four.”

“Ah, man,” he sighed. “This totally sucks. My mom will be really disappointed.”

Yeah, I thought, me too.

I wasn’t planning on writing tonight but David insisted, so much so in fact that he lit a huge candle and put it next to me. More than once, he said; “I get a real kick outta watching you write.” And who am I to deny him of such!

Anyway, back to today! After we watched the sun come up, we stumbled back to bed, where I was left feeling ecstatic, none of which needs to be written about because the memories are already firmly imprinted.

Breakfast consisted of blueberry pancakes, slathered in syrup, with a view of the surfers taking full advantage of the waves (ah, surfers and pancakes, guess I’m staying!) I asked David if he’d mind driving me to the hotel so I could change. All the way there I was hoping we wouldn’t bump into Ben.

Fortunately, Ben was nowhere to be seen but the second Michelle spotted us (David!) she practically ran over to us (him!)

“Oh, hello David,” she purred. “You look rather fetching. I love your shorts. Very LA.”

Honestly Michelle, I’m right here!

I just read that out to David and he’s cracking up laughing.

Well, well, well, that was quite the, “Kissing Break,” prompted by David, who suggested we kiss each time I wrote another line! Ok, where was I? Oh yeah, we took a drive along the stunning coastline to Santa Barbara, where we found a great Mexican restaurant and drank Margarita’s next to a lovely fountain.

Next stop was in Isla Vista which has a really interesting history but there’s no need to delve into any of it because David just came back up to the roof, carrying a bowl of ice cream, covered in the mint liquor I’m rather partial to.
Love from and on the rooftop terrace.

 

July 13th, 1990

July 13th, 1990

Flight from LHR – LAX

At David’s, Manhattan Beach

I’ll start at the beginning and try not to get distracted!

Mum made me laugh this morning as she waved me off shouting; “Live it up!” Great advice, as always.

Nice crew on a ten-hour plus flight that transported us to the land of the beautiful people. The place where the light looks different to anywhere else in the world. The place where David lives.

Couldn’t wait to get to the hotel and take a shower, which, after a long flight is most welcome. Went down to the bar to meet my crew while I waited for David. Everyone was in good spirits, taking full advantage of the free drink chits the hotel provides. I promptly ordered a Long Island Iced Tea and when, a short while later, I spotted David through the glass partition, coming into the lobby, my heart did the flippy floppy thing I’ve so missed.

I could barely contain myself when he kissed me hello and hugged me tight before I introduced him to my crew, all of whom, at some point, gave me a thumbs-up or in Michelle’s case, a resounding; “Cor blimey, get a load a you!” Thanks for that Michelle!

We held hands while we drank (my second, David’s first) Long Island Iced Teas then without speaking we agreed to leave. We were just about done with saying bye to everyone when Michelle piped up; “Ooh, look. The Virgin Atlantic crew just arrived.”

I turned to take a look, just as Ben came walking into the lobby!

The word gobsmacked doesn’t begin to cut it and judging by the look on Ben’s face, he had the same reaction. David and I made our way towards the exit but there was no way to avoid Ben.

“Hey you,” he smiled, kissing my cheek. “Long time no see.”

Yeah, I thought, it’s been over three months.

The all too familiar scent of him caught me off guard and I felt myself sway a little, hoping David, who was still holding my hand, wouldn’t notice. I introduced David to Ben (argh!!!) and watched them shake hands; my two worlds colliding.

“What’re you lovebirds up to?” Ben asked.

“I’m showing Karen the sights,” David said, squeezing my hand.

“Oh, ehm, yeah, we need to get going, so eh, Happy Birthday for tomorrow,” I stuttered.

“Yeah, thanks,” Ben said, not looking at me.

“Later, man,” David drawled.

 

“You ok?” David asked the second we were outside.

“Eh yeah, I’m fine thanks,” I said, forcing a smile.

“So that’s him, huh? That was Ben?”

“Uh-huh, that’s him,” I said, trying desperately to sound calm, hoping my voice wouldn’t give me away.

He held the car door open. “You sure you’re ok? You look a little pale.”

“Just hot,” I uttered, using the time it took for David to walk round the car to take the deepest breath ever.

“You wanna get outta here?” he said, putting on his seatbelt.

“Yes please,” I said, willing myself not to peer into the lobby when we drove past.

 

Surprisingly, it didn’t take long for me to meld back into David’s world, where on a balmy Friday night everything looked and smelled amazing.

Our first stop was at the Bel-Air Hotel, a place I’ve only ever read about. It certainly lived up to its name and we had some fun walking through the lobby, quickly scanning the well clad guests. From there we went to a sushi place that just opened, the name of which I’ve already forgotten.

“You doing ok?” David asked.

“Yes, this is amazing, thank you.”

He put his chopsticks down and looked at me. “I didn’t mean the food.”

“I know. I’m sorry about what happened at the hotel, I had no idea the Virgin crew stay at the same place.”

“You seemed pretty surprised.”

“I was.”

“You really loved him, huh?”

“I did, yes.”

“Are you still in love with him?”

I shook my head. “No, no I’m not,” I said, meeting his kiss.

We took a drive along Rodeo Drive, where affluence and pretension screamed from every corner and as much as I don’t thrive on any of that, it was still quite a sight to see. David said I needed to experience LA in its entirety, so from there, we went to a really dodgy bar in Hollywood that smashed all my preconceived notions of glamour and lavishness.

By the time we got back here, it was really late and I felt exhausted. Up on the rooftop terrace, under the stars, with the sound of the ocean, it didn’t take us long to find our way deep into the folds of the very comfy couch, the scene of many magical moments I remember as blissful and heavenly.

That was just a few short hours ago but thanks to the eight-hour time change, I’m back up on the roof, feeling wide awake and hey ho whaddya know, David just appeared, wearing only shorts, mumbling something about making Mimosas and watching the sun come up.

I wonder if mum and dad will miss me when I move here!