April 1st, 1990

April 1st, 1990
Night flight from JFK – LHR

Floating through the clouds tonight on crew rest.

What an incredible twenty-two hours with David, who is now winging his way to Delhi. He tried to get a seat on this flight but with such short notice, we were already full. Such a shame as it would’ve been great to have him onboard (serious understatement there!)

Last night in New York was magical, truly.
“Where would you like to go?”
“It’s my first time here, show me around your favourite places.”
I laughed. “I can’t believe you’ve never been here! We should start by walking, it’s the best way to get around, plus I know a few good bars we can pop into on our way downtown.”

It was after three when we got back to the hotel.
“I was so worried none of this would work out,” he said, as we stepped, hand in hand into the elevator. “So much could’ve gone wrong with the timing, you know?”
“But it didn’t,” I said, squeezing his hand.

We spent this morning in my room, lounging with breakfast from room service.
“This isn’t too shabby,” he smiled. “And thanks for the expression, I have everyone at work saying it.”
“That’s funny.”
“When you come to LA I’ll take you to my office so you can take full credit for it.”
“Is there anything special you’d like to do today?”
“I can think of a few things,” he grinned. “Sorry, that was crude, I guess you mean outside of the hotel?”
I leaned over and kissed him.  “Empire State?”

“Maybe,” he said, gently nuzzling my neck.

Had the nuzzling stopped there. the queue to get into the Empire State building might not have been so long but I have no regrets!
“You know what? Let’s just take a walk, this place is awesome, I wanna take it all in before we have to leave.”
“Now you can see why it’s my favourite city.”
He gave me a questioning look.
“So far,” I smiled.

On the crew bus on our way to JFK, I found his note in the pocket of my uniform jacket.
“Gorgeous girl, amazing city, new memories…I already miss you xxx”

March 31st, 1990

March 31st, 1990
Flight from LHR – JFK
Sheraton City Squire, New York

Tonight was one of those nights you never want to end, the kind you know you’ll never, ever forget.

I was in the lobby with my crew, waiting to check in, when out of the corner of my eye, my “Gorgeous Guy” radar spotted him. It took everything I had not to run over and kiss him but being in uniform, I knew that was out of the question, so I watched as he got closer and smiled when he whispered, “Surprise,” on his way past me. I remained as cool and calm as possible and watched him sink into a plush seat in the lobby.

On my way to the elevator I quietly uttered, “Room nineteen eleven. Come up in ten minutes.”

When the doors opened onto the nineteenth floor, I ran down the corridor to my room, only to realize halfway that I was going in the wrong direction!

I was so excited I was tempted to jump on the bed but time was of the essence so I quickly tore off my jacket and thought about taking a shower but I was so nervous I couldn’t think straight. I knew I had to calm down so I stood by the window and took several deep breaths before the knock on the door jolted me back to reality.
“Bell service!”
“Shit,” I blurted, undoing my temporary sense of calm. “Just a second,” I shouted, rummaging through my bag for the obligatory dollar tip.

I dragged my suitcase into the room, closed the door and pressed my back against it.
“Calm down,” I uttered, feeling my heart race. “Just calm down.”
A minute later, another knock at the door. I peered through the peephole and watched him run his fingers through his gorgeous blond hair.

I smoothed down my blouse and skirt, took another deep breath then slowly opened the door.
“Hi David,” I smiled. “Come on in.”

March 30th, 1990

March 30th, 1990
At home

Driving home from Ben’s this morning, I expected to be greeted with the wrath of mum.
“Is that you, Karen?” She called from upstairs.
“Yes, mum. Morning. Do you want a cup of tea?”
“Aye, put the kettle on, I’ll be down in a wee minute.”

We sat at the kitchen table for ages, drinking tea, eating toast and generally having a nice conversation. I kept expecting mum to get onto me about Ben but she was much too interested in what I plan on doing in New York tomorrow.
“I might see Christopher but I haven’t had a chance to let him know I’m going.”
“Aye and you can have a wee chat to David.”
“I don’t know what time he’s leaving for Delhi but yeah, hopefully I’ll catch him before he goes.”
“I was thinking of making a nice dinner , dad was saying last night he’s no seen much of you recently.”
“Actually, ehm, I’ve already arranged to meet Ben when he finishes work.”
Wait for it.
“Oh alright then,” she continued. “Maybe dad will still be up when you come in. Or he’ll see you tomorrow before you leave.”
And that was it! Who is this woman and what have you done with my Mother?

Ben and I went back to Stony Stratford, this time to our favourite Indian restaurant. We ordered far too much food and were halfway through our drinks when he said, “Mandy got offered a job in this area.”
“Is she taking it?”
“I told her not to.”
“Why?” I asked.
“Why do you think?”
“I imagine because you don’t want her around, which makes no sense if she’s your girlfriend.”
“If I get into Virgin Atlantic,” he said, shrugging his shoulders, “I’ll be away all the time, like you.”
“That’s true, doesn’t make sense for her to leave everything behind only to move here and have you gone all the time.”
“Exactly. So, New York tomorrow?”
“Yup.”
“Saturday night in the big apple,” he smiled.
“I can’t wait!”
“What will you be doing? Apart from spending hours on the phone with lover boy.”
“Why do you call him that?” I asked. “His name is David.”
“Probably the same reason you call Mandy whatsherface.”
“Not anymore I don’t, it’s not nice,” I lied.
He laughed. “Ok, we’ll see about that.”
“Actually, you know what?”
“What?” he asked.
I was about to go on about Mandy and how he treats her and blah, blah, blah but the last onion bhaji looked lonely on the plate and I just wanted to eat and not talk anymore.
“I love Indian food,” I said and popped a piece of bhaji in my mouth.
“That’s not what you were about to say.”
“Is so,” I mumbled.
“Somehow I doubt it.”
“Doubt all you want,” I said, tearing off a hunk of naan bread, “I love Indian food.”

March 29th, 1990

March 29th, 1990

At Ben’s

I had a room at the Excelsior hotel at Heathrow but we don’t fly to New York ‘til Saturday and I knew I’d be bored there so I decided to come home. Much to mum’s delight, I didn’t bother going to bed and surprisingly I still don’t feel that bad (just a little tipsy from too much wine.)

Went shopping with mum and planned on a night at home, until Ben rang. I walked over to meet him and we took a taxi to the Vault in Stony Stratford to meet up with some of our old school chums.

Henry showed up with his fiancée, Sabina, who was extremely condescending and a horror of a girl. I did not like her one bit! Of course Henry is completely besotted with her and once they’re married (if not before) I imagine Sabina will become even more of a controlling monster who’ll dominate his entire life and eventually leave him in tatters. I hope that won’t be the case but if I had a crystal ball, I’m pretty sure that’s what I’d see.

While we were at the pub, I found my gaze drifting to Ben and whenever I caught his eye, we’d smile then quickly avert our gaze. As the night wore on (read as; the more I drank!) I found myself looking more in his direction, until Sabina grabbed his arm.

“I’m tearing you away for a private chat,” she breathed in a seductive voice that made me want to throw up. Henry looked on adorningly as she yanked his best friend by the arm and dragged him to the bar.

About fourteen minutes later (yeah, ok, I timed it!) they came back to the table, with Sabina looking like the cat who got the cream.

“How much do you hate her?” Ben whispered as he took a seat beside me.

I took a huge gulp of wine. “Hate who?”

Ben let out a little chuckle. “Kidding aside,” he said, “I fear she’ll break his heart.”

“Probably more than once,” I sighed.

A short while later, Ben and I said our goodbyes to our lovely friends, all except for Sabina, who made a big fuss of kissing Ben while she completely ignored me. Fortunately, the air outside was cool enough to reduce the steam pouring out of me!

“You coming to mine?” Ben asked with his signature grin.

“Uh-huh,” I uttered as he waved down a taxi.

In the back seat of the taxi we started dissecting the evening’s events and continued to do so over tea and toast here. I rang home and was pleased mum and not dad picked up.

“I had a bit to drink and I’m spending the night at Ben’s,” I boldly stated.

“Aye, ok, see you tomorrow then.”

No argument, nothing, wow! I will probably hear it tomorrow but I’m not going to worry about that because right now I have other stuff to think about, like figuring out how to crawl through the wall to Ben’s room.

 

March 28th, 1990

March 28th, 1990

Night flight from DTW – YMX – LHR

Presently on forty-five minutes of crew rest which isn’t bad for a six hour plus flight. We made a stop in Montreal and froze the second the doors opened. The Canadian passengers waddled onboard bundled up as if they live in the Artic, no thanks!

The most exciting thing that happened today was my chat with David.

“How’d you sleep?” he asked.

“Really well actually, Sorry, I think I drifted off while we were still talking.”

“Yeah, I’m trying not to take it personally.”

“You mustn’t, I’d been up for about twenty-four hours.”

“I’m just teasing you. I have jet lag to look forward to next.”

“Where’re you off to?”

“Delhi.”

“Ouch, that’s a huge time change for you.”

“Twelve and a half hours.”

“I never understand the half.”

“Regardless I’ll be all messed up but I like Delhi.”

“So do I, except for the times I got Delhi belly.”

He laughed. “We ate everything when we were there.”

“I know and I was fine, ironically I only ever got it from eating in the hotel.”

There was a slight pause before he said, “That day was monumental.”

“In what way?”

“In every way. I almost didn’t go out and if I hadn’t, I’d never have met you again in the market.

I felt myself smiling widely. “Can you believe that was eight months ago?”

“And you still haven’t been to LA.”

“Please don’t remind me. I promise I’ll get there sooner rather than later.”

“I’m holding you to that.”

I laughed. “Please do. I know you have to get ready for work, so should I ring you when I get to New York in a couple of days?”

“Oh, sure, lemme grab a pen so I can write down your flight number and where you’ll be staying.”

“Why do you need all that?”

“So I can figure out times to call and stuff.”

“Oh, ok. Do you have a pen?”

“I do now. Shoot.”

 

March 27th, 1990

March 27th, 1990

Flight from LHR – YMX – DTW

Standby started at eight this morning and with the possibility of a maximum call out time of ninety minutes (in which time I’d never make it) I got up early and made my way to TriStar House.

Sandra on the crew desk was all smiles and offered me a room at the hotel so I could be put on QRS (Quick Response Standby, with only 45 mins notice!) It sounded better than hanging around TriStar all day, so I agreed and waited while she answered the phone.
“Change of plans,” she said, hanging up.

“Please tell me somebody just rang in sick for a LA trip.”

“Sorry love, it’s a back-to-back.”

I let out a deep sigh. “How long?”

“Six days total.”

“Oh, ok, guess it could be worse.”

Eleven hours later, with my feet throbbing, I made myself comfortable in the giant hotel bed and rang David.

“Guess who?”

“Hey, this is a surprise.”

“Is this a good time?”

“Sure, I just got home from work.”

“Me too,” I laughed. “But I’m quite sure my commute was longer than yours.”

“Where are you?”

“Dee troy t.”

He laughed. “What are you doing in Michigan! You’re supposed to be in California!”

“I know, I tried to get there but nobody rings in sick for LA trips.”

“Well, you’re in the right country, you just didn’t fly far enough.”

“How far are you from here?”

“I’d say around three thousand miles or so.”

“That’s mental, I just flew three thousand miles.”

“I know, crazy. Hey, can you do me a favour?”

“Of course.”

“Can you call back in like five minutes?”

“Uh-huh.”

“I wanna grab a beer and head up to the roof deck. Looks like a spectacular sunset.”

“Sounds lovely,” I said, swinging my legs out of bed. “I’ll ring you back after I make a cup of tea.”

David chuckled. “Another wild night I see.”

“You know it!”

“Call me back and we’ll have a drink watching the sunset together.”

Ah, only another three thousand miles…

 

March 26th, 1990

March 26th, 1990

At home

“Och, I forgot to tell you,” were the first words out of mum’s mouth this morning. “Jon phoned while you were in Paris and apparently, you were supposed to phone and let him know if you were going to see him or not.”

“Shit, I completely forgot.”

“Don’t swear.”

“Sorry. Did he sound annoyed?”

“Does he ever?”

I laughed. “No, never. I really hope he meets a great girl who absolutely adores him.”

“Aye so do I, he deserves it.”

“Oh, so you’ve given up all hope of us being together?”

“Aye, well I heard a wee bit of your conversation with David last night.”

“Mum!”

“Uff, I couldnae help it when I was going in and out of the kitchen and it’s no as if you were in your room and I was outside the door listening.”

“Which is probably what you’d do if I had a phone in my bedroom.”

Her smirk gave her away.

“Mum, you’re so nosey!”

“I cannae help it,” she said. “You’re my lassie.”

“I know,” I said in a huffy tone, “But I’d appreciate at least some level of privacy. Especially when I’m on the phone.”

She chuckled.

“What?”

“You,” she smiled. “You sound more American every time you talk to David.”

Lovely evening with Sarah and Lucy at The Swan, one of my favourite pubs. Sarah was talking a million miles a minute but Lucy was much more subdued. Of the three of us, Lucy is definitely the quiet one, so much so in fact that I sometimes feel I don’t know her as well as I should after almost ten years of being friends.

It’s interesting witnessing the various directions our lives are moving in but I love that no matter where we end up, we’ll always have the shared experience of our school years. Even if we do have three different versions of all that happened!

March 25th, 1990

March 25th, 1990

At home

“You went to Paris? Just like that?” David asked.

“It’s only a forty-minute flight.”

“Man, that’s just crazy. How was it?”

“It was wonderful, I looked at a bunch of houses.”

“Anything good?”

“They each had something unique to offer but…”

“But what?”

“Perhaps living alone in the middle of the French countryside isn’t the best idea.”

“Then how about the city?”

“Paris?”

“Uh-huh.”

“No, I mean yes” I stuttered. “I’d love that but I can’t afford city prices yet.”

David laughed his lovely laugh.

“What’re you laughing at?”

“I like that you said yet.”

“Well, someday I suppose, if that’s what I want.”

“Either way, it’s cool that you looked.”

“Yeah, I’m glad I did, Jean Jacques was really helpful,” I blurted, without thinking about it.

“Who’s Jean Jacques?” David asked, without missing a beat.

“Eh, he’s someone I met earlier this year.”

“He’s French?”

“Yes, Parisian born and bred.”

“Is he someone special?”

I was a bit taken aback by his question and cleared my throat while I quickly thought of an appropriate response. “In some ways he is. He’s much older and has been really helpful but in a romantic sense, no, he’s not special. Not in that regard.”

“So he’s more like a friend?”

One of mum’s most used phrases popped into my head; Honesty is the best policy.

“Ehm, I’ll be perfectly honest with you, we didn’t start out that way but that’s how it is now.”

“So he’s someone you’ll see again?”

“Yes, I’m sure I will.”

“And that’s cool. Right?”

“Yeah it is, actually. He’s a good guy. I hope I’m making it clear that he’s just a friend.”

“Yeah, I get it.”

“You sure?”

“I’m sure,” he laughed, “But I do have one more question for you.”

“What’s that?”

“When are you coming to LA?”

 

March 24th, 1990

March 24th, 1990

At Jean Jacques

Montmartre, Paris

I awoke with the aroma of fresh brewed coffee, one of my favourite smells, which is ironic given that if I were to indulge in even a few sips, I’d be violently sick. What I’m not allergic to, however, is Champagne, as witnessed today, when Jean Jacques and I ended up in Reims.

Madame Bertrand must’ve been up at the crack of dawn to make the buttery croissants she kept piling on my plate. “Vous etes trop maigre,” she uttered over and over again, a phrase I had no clue as to the meaning of until I later asked Jean Jacques. “Skin e. She said you are too skin e.” Ah, Madame Bertrand, if only I knew what you were saying, I would’ve kissed you!

The four houses we looked at today were “right up my alley,” which Jean Jacques said is his new favourite expression. I’d be happy with any of the houses but I can only imagine mum and dad’s reaction to me buying a rundown farmhouse, with nobody around for miles.

The afternoon was spent mostly in cellars, each with their own history which itself was fascinating but not as great as sipping chilled Taittinger at the end of the tour.

“We buy?” Jean Jacques asked, draining the last of his Champagne.

“Definitely,” I nodded, enthusiastically. “But not ‘til I’ve had a few more glasses.”

“But of course, Ecossais,” he laughed. “Of course.”

The house hunting may not have been a roaring success but we came back with a case of Champagne. And somebody called me skin e!

 

March 23rd, 1990

March 23rd, 1990

Dormans, France

Spending the night in this tiny guest house, owned by the sweetest French couple. It’s hard to believe we’re only an hour and a half outside Paris and as much as I enjoy the city, I love the rustic nature of this place even more.

My room has a single brass bed and a quilt that Madame Bertrand told me took her over two years to make! She also told me she made the “rideaux en dentelle” (lace curtains) that are billowing slightly in the light breeze, plus she insisted on bringing me tea in a fine bone china cup. At this rate, I might just move in!

It’s been quite the day, tromping around fields, looking at houses and encountering all sorts of interesting characters. The first house we looked at was heavenly but it was in the middle of nowhere, which, with my single girl status wouldn’t be the best. If I didn’t travel with work, I’d get a dog but needless to say that’s out of the question.

The second place was basically a ruin and Jean Jacques laughed when I asked where the house was.

“It is here,” he said, gesturing around the open field.

“This isn’t a house,” I laughed. “This is a few crumbling bricks.”

“But at this price you make it what tu veux.”

“Building a house is out of the question. I wouldn’t mind chipping away and making some changes to something but I’d need at least four walls to start with!”

“Ok,” he smiled. “We go to next one.”

Seven houses later, I was more than ready to call it a day.

“Thanks for driving me all over the place, I really appreciate it.”
“It is no prob lem,” Jean Jacques replied, looking, I have to say, not only his age but also slightly exhausted.

“Are you ready to head back to the city?”

“Non,” he said, shaking his head. “Perhaps we spend ce soir here and look more tomorrow?”

“That sounds like a plan.”

“Ecossais is happy with this?”

“Absolutement.”

Fortunately, it didn’t take long to find this little place, where Jean Jacques managed to secure not one but two rooms. We just had the most amazing dinner together and talked at length about, as Jean Jacques put it, “The boy who is making you sad.”

“Sorry,” I said. “Sometimes I have a hard time shaking him off.”

“He is la raison you want to come to France?”

“I haven’t thought that much about it but now you mention it, eh, yes, probably.”

“I think it is something for you to decide, oui?”

“Hmmm. Something to sort out before I make a big decision, like buying a house. In France!”

He laughed. “So for now you have a key to my appartement and you use when you like, ok?”

“Thank you Jean Jacques, that’s really kind of you. Sorry again for barging in on you last night, even though you didn’t seem at all surprised.”

“Pas du tout,” he said shaking his head.

“I’m that predictable, huh?”

“Non,” he smiled, “but you are still young.”