September 23rd, 1990

September 23rd, 1990

At home, England

The best thing about being at home is picking up the phone and dialing my favourite place in the world.

David’s “Hello,” was all it took to make me want to crawl through the phone.

“Hey sleepy,” I uttered. “Is this too early for you?”
“No way! This is the best way to wake up,” he said in his sexy morning voice.

I imagined him in bed, stretching. Concentrate. Concentrate.

“Did you have a late night?”

Please say no and that you’re tired from staying up late reading “War and Peace.”

“I guess, well, ah, I don’t know.”

“Oh.” Keep it together McGarr. Be cool. “Did you go out?”

“Yeah we had an awesome night, we…”

“We?” Cool! Be cool!

“Yeah, Elizabeth’s here for the weekend. Did you forget I told you she was coming?”

“Oh, Elizabeth. Your sister Elizabeth!”  Not some gorgeous tanned, toned girl called Claudette, with long dark hair and green eyes who does bikini modelling “just for fun” because being a lawyer can be “soooo tedious!”

“Where’d you go?” You two. Brother and sister. Not you and Claudette!

“To our favourite sushi place.”

“Where’s that?” I asked.

“You know, the place in Bel Air. Our favourite sushi place.”

“Oh, I thought you meant…”

“Ours, honey. Our favourite.”

My hand instinctively reached for my heart.  Ours. He said ours. “How was it?”

“As usual, the food was amazing. I mean, that place, wow, right? We talked about you for most of the night.”

“You talked about me? To your sister?”

“Yeah, she said she cant’ wait to meet you. I think you two will hit it off.”


“I can’t wait to meet her either.”

“I’m thinking Thanksgiving.”

“When’s that?”

He laughed. “November. It’s always the third Thursday in November.”

“Oh, it might be too late for me to request leave but…”

“I’m just throwing it out there, so hopefully we can figure something out. It’d be awesome for you to come and meet everybody.”

“Like who?”

“My folks, my sister. Some random family members, friends, you know, holiday stuff. Besides, you need to come and see my new place.”

“When are you moving in?”

“Hopefully before I leave for Germany, which is kindofa crazy goal but I think I can swing it. And you are gonna flip when you see it. Front row baby!”
I laughed. “Bang smack on the ocean, can’t beat that! Ugh, just saying that makes me homesick for LA.”

“Now that’s funny. You being homesick for a place you’ve never lived.”


“Guess we got a lot to do, huh?”

“Yes,” I said. “Yes, we do.”

Especially now that we have a favourite restaurant and you want me to meet your family.





September 22nd, 1990

September 22nd, 1990

Night flight from NBO – LHR

Heading home, which means I’m only hours away from talking to David on the phone.

Went to the market with Molly and Anita this morning but refrained from buying anything. I need to see how much money I have left after I pay the mortgage this month! Besides, I already have a lot of the hand-crafted items they sell, my favourite being the soapstone chess set.

We parted ways this afternoon in the hopes of getting some rest before flying tonight, but when I turned the telly on, “Sandy” was strutting her stuff in tight leather trousers, telling “Danny” he’s the one she wants.  “Oo oo oo, honey!”

Grease is, indeed, the word!


September 21st, 1990

September 21st, 1990

Night flight from JNB – NBO

I’m on my second cup of Earl Grey and my third (or sixth!) choccie biscuit that Anita smuggled out of the First Class galley (I knew I liked her!)

Back we go, to Kenya.




September 20th, 1990

September 20th, 1990

Flight from NBO – JNB

Johannesburg, South Africa

Woke up really early and stayed in bed listening to Sting on my Walkman (glad I changed the batteries before this trip, allowed me to listen, over and over again.) The lyrics to “Be Still My Beating Heart,” remain some of my favourites (it’s a long list!)

“I sink like a stone that’s been thrown in the ocean, my logic has drowned in a sea of emotion.”

Who hasn’t experienced that.

Easy flight, followed by a quick jaunt to the Juice Farm with Anita and Molly. Sat and watched the locals coming and going then we came to my room and looked through a bunch of pictures I had developed right before coming on this trip. Lots from the Boston trip with mum and Millie, and a few from Holland.

Molly commented on how good-looking Lorna’s friend Martan is and she chuckled when I pretended to wipe her drool off his picture. Anita said she loves men with blonde, floppy hair, which prompted me to pull out the picture I keep in my crew handbag (aw) of David.

Anita’s expression as she placed the pictures side by side could only be described as gleeful.

“Bloody hell,” she said. “They could be twins!”

“They even have the same, what’s that thing called?” Molly asked, pointing.

Anita looked at me. “Cleft chin, right?”

“Yeah,” I nodded. “It’s uncanny, isn’t it?”

“Did you snog him?” Anita asked with a cheeky smile.

“No, of course not!”

“I would’ve,” Anita stated. “If only for the purpose of comparing nationalities!”

“Yeah, right,” I said. “I’ve heard it all now!”

Molly held up Martan’s picture to her face. “Don’t we make a lovely couple,” she giggled.

It’s amazing how fast the time passes once you start talking about the opposite sex!

September 19th, 1990


September 19th, 1990

Hotel InterContinental, Nairobi, Kenya

Slept for twelve hours straight last night (don’t recall the last time I did that) then I took a wander down to the pool, where a few of the girls were lounging.

“She lives!” Anita announced. “We were just talking about you.”

I gave her a questioning look. “Oh?”

“We were just saying how little we’ve seen of you on this trip. Are you alright?”
“My stomach was playing up but I’m fine now.”

“Anytime I feign stomach problems it’s usually guy related,” Molly said.

“Something like that,” I smiled in acknowledgement.

“In that case, I wanna hear all about it!” Anita said. “Bloody men!”

I laughed. “I’ll fill you in, but first I need food. Who fancies a walk to The Norfolk?”

Annalise (who looks like she exists on water) claimed she wasn’t hungry but Molly (who’s the spitting image of Cameron Diaz) said she was about to faint if she didn’t eat. Anita said she had just “pigged out,” but wanted to tag along so she could listen to, “the man gossip.”

Just as we were finishing up lunch (much, much cheaper and better than anything available at the hotel) Molly asked if either of us had been to the elephant orphanage.

“No,” Anita and I replied in unison.

“We should go,” Molly suggested. “But, I’ll warn you, we’ll need a box of tissues.”

She wasn’t kidding. Before we even reached the elephants, Anita and I were in tears when the guide told us the majority of the baby elephants (aka calves) lost their parents to poachers who killed them for their ivory tusks. Ugh, can’t even wrap my head around that.

We didn’t expect to see any animals other than elephants but there were also zebras (love them as well) and even a giraffe but the cutest thing ever was the baby elephant draped in a blanket, which is when Molly grabbed the tissues!

We learned that elephants can swim and can live to be seventy. Gestation time is twenty-two months, which prompted much commentary about how it’d feel to endure an almost two-year pregnancy!

The conversation continued along the same lines tonight in the hotel bar, during which I had three glasses of wine that went down a treat.

I’m going to bed to dream of elephants roaming free.

September 18th, 1990

September 18th, 1990

Flight from JNB – NBO

Hotel InterContinental, Nairobi, Kenya

Landing in Kenya this morning, I couldn’t help but think of the composer, John Barry, who wrote the music to, “Out of Africa,” one of my favourite films.

I imagined Mr. Barry looking down at Nairobi for the first time, mesmerized by the sight of the expanse of land that reaches all the way to the Ngong Hills. I have no idea if inspiration came to him in this way or if he created the music in a basement studio somewhere in London. Regardless, the score captured the landscape perfectly.

Sitting by myself at the front of the crew bus as it bounced its way over the dusty, makeshift roads, I closed my eyes and played snippets of my favourite parts in the film, all the while wishing I had a cassette of the theme music to complete the picture.

I opened my eyes just as we pulled up to the hotel and caught the infectious smile of the doorman.

“Jambo,” he said, in greeting as I stepped off the crew bus.

“Jambo, how are you?”

“Very good miss, very good. Welcome back.”

“Thank you,” I said, feeling myself smile, after what felt like the first time in ages.

In my room, I drew open the heavy curtains and opened the balcony door, then I took a shower and gave myself a pep talk. By the time I got out of the shower, I felt lighter, which, after a long night flight and far too many heavy emotional days (and nights) felt more than welcome.

Instead of gorging on room service (like I did in Jo’Burg) I munched on an apple and started writing a short story, inspired by a quote from Karen Blixen, the Danish writer the film is about.

“The cure for anything is salt water – sweat, tears or the sea.”

Karen Blixen, 1885 – 1962.

I didn’t stop writing ‘til the sun went down.


September 17th, 1990

September 17th, 1990

Johannesburg, South Africa

Woke up crying from a horrible dream I had about Ben, where we were in, of all places, a bullring. We were arguing so much that he said he was leaving. On his way out, just as he was locking the gate, the bull appeared. I started running to get away but I tripped and that’s when I felt the bull’s teeth tear into my leg, which is when I woke up.

Even although it was only a dream, it really upset me and I spent the entire day stuck in this claustrophobic room where you can’t even open a window. I know I should’ve got dressed and met my crew for dinner but with each passing hour I felt my energy dwindle and had no desire to be around people.

I think the phone call from Ben the other day is somewhat responsible for the funk I’m in. I’ve been crying a lot, thinking about how happy we used to be and how much I loved him. Added to which, I still sometimes miss him, which makes me feel guilty because how would David feel if he knew that.

I’ve heard the expression, “perfect couple,” my whole life, as recently as yesterday, on the crew bus when I overheard the girls sitting behind me talking about some mutual friends. Do the perfect couple actually exist? What things/traits do people need to observe before they start referring to a couple as such? Does the perfect couple individually feel so fulfilled and happy that when they come together it only adds to their satisfaction? Maybe that’s what it is, I have no bloody idea!

What I do know, is that I need to close the book (trilogy!) on Ben, so I can move on, to the next chapter. And I know that not only do I need to close it, but more importantly, I need to accept  that any possibility of us ever being together again is gone.

That’s the part I’m still having a hard time with.


September 16th, 1990

September 16th, 1990

Johannesburg, South Africa

I felt the sadness creeping up on me this morning, as the crew bus sped past one shanty town after another, an all too common sight in this part of the world.

Only a handful of rooms were ready so the more junior crew (including yours truly) had to wait, during which time there were complaints about how many hours we’d been on our feet and blah, blah, blah, all of which seemed absurd, considering the quality of (or lack of) life not even a mile away.

By the time I got to my room, I was in a real funk and promptly ordered twenty-seven thousand calories of chocolate, spread between cakes, croissants and of course, chocolate mousse.

Still in uniform (first time ever I didn’t shower right after a flight) I devoured the lot, then, feeling utterly sick, I collapsed on the bed and allowed the tears to come. Tiredness finally got the better of me and I passed out but awoke several hours later feeling even worse.

It’s David’s birthday and I’m celebrating with my own pity party.

Ten thousand miles away.


September 15th, 1990

September 15th, 1990

Night flight from LHR – JNB
After hanging up with Ben yesterday I was sorely tempted to ring in sick but my next trip is with Millie and my life wouldn’t be worth living if she found out why I wasn’t on it.

So, here I am, on crew rest as we wing our way to one of my least favourite places.

I guess I’m still learning how to take the good with the bad.


September 14th, 1990

September 14th, 1990

At home, England

I was so engrossed in reading Maeve Binchy’s “Silver Wedding,” this afternoon, that when the phone rang, I ignored it. Until it kept ringing.

“Arghhh,” I grunted, attempting to unravel myself from the blanket I keep on the couch.

“Hello?” I said, still untangling the lower half of my body.

“Hey you.”

“Shit!” I exclaimed, noticing that I’d kicked over the mug of tea I forgot to drink.

“Eh, my name’s Ben!”

I laughed. “Yes, I know that!”

“Sounds like I caught you at a bad time, I can…”

“No, no, not at all,” I lied. “It’s a fine time. How are you?”

“Excellent, and you? How’s the house?”

“I’m really enjoying it. It’s lovely.”

Except for the tea stain spreading across the off-white carpet mum warned me against buying!

“Has lover boy moved in yet?”

Choosing to ignore the comment, I asked. “How’s flying?”

“Brilliant! I love it.”

“I thought you would.”

“Yeah, it’s something I should’ve done a long time ago. So, how’s tricks? I thought you’d be married and commuting to LA by now.”

“Very funny.”

“You’re still seeing him, right?”

“If you’re referring to David, yes, I’m still seeing him.”

“Does that mean I can’t come and see you?”

“Ehm, no, it doesn’t mean that at all.”

It just means I probably shouldn’t end up in bed with you!

“Good, I’ll be at my mum and dad’s late tomorrow afternoon. Can I come over tomorrow night?”

Yes please, yes please!

“Sorry, that won’t work, I’m flying to Jo’Burg.”

“You don’t like it there.”

“No, but I still have to go.”

“You could throw a sickie.”

One phone call is all it’ll take!

“Not with a mortgage I can’t.”

“Ah, the perils of being a grown up.”

“I’m not complaining.”

“Are you sure tomorrow night won’t work?”

Stay strong! Don’t cave in!

“’Fraid not.”

“If you throw a sickie, you’ll get a better trip when you ring in fit.”

“I see you’ve already figured out how to manipulate the system.”

“Has to be done. Listen, I’ll be about all weekend, so if you change your mind…”

“I won’t. I’ll be flying to Jo’Burg tomorrow night.”