November 30th, 1990

November 30th, 1990

Night flight from JFK – MAN

Met the girls this morning and walked to the Rockefeller Center for breakfast, where we paid a small fortune for the privilege of watching a combination of overweight tourists and wannabe Torvill and Dean’s ice skating.

I ate pancakes (couldn’t help but compare them to David’s) slathered in syrup, with a side of bacon. I’ve decided I don’t give a shit about my weight anymore. I intend to eat to my heart’s content and my uniform no longer fits (which won’t take long!)

The girls headed back to the hotel but I was enjoying the hustle and bustle so decided to stay out. I thought about ringing Christopher to see if he wanted to meet for lunch (part of my new weight gain program!) but figure I’ll do that when we return, a few days from now.

Spent hours browsing in Barnes & Noble, where I found a beautiful book about the Taj Mahal I knew David would love but no sooner had the thought entered my head when the reality of the situation took over and that’s when I knew it was time to leave.

 

November 29th, 1990

November 29th, 1990

Flight from LGW – JFK

Lexington Hotel, New York City

As much as I love New York, the weather at this time of year lets it down and I can’t help but compare it to LA. However, my tummy is full of stodgy potato skins and pizza so I guess it’s not all bad.

I could tell Sally and Rowena were kindred spirits on the crew transport from LHR to LGW. There are some people you just click with right away and feel you’ve known for longer than an hour! We’re all twenty-three, in our second year as Cabin Crew, enjoying the lifestyle and freedom flying affords.

Shortly after checking into the Lex, we braved the elements as we made our way downtown to a bar Rowena and I got a recommendation for, from one of the passengers. “It’s the place to be,” he’d boasted, but all we found was an overpriced dive bar with crap music. Halfway through the watered-down drinks, I suggested one of my favourite places.

The Iguana bar was hopping and as one well-oiled (that was just his hair!) guy at the bar slurred, “Thursday is the new Saturday.” He went on to offer, “drinks for you hot chicks,” which we politely declined then cracked up laughing when we heard him repeat the same to another group of girls.

As usual, the conversation turned to love and Rowena asked if I’m seeing anyone, to which I shrugged, “Nope.” I was slightly tempted to share what happened with David but I knew if I brought it up, it’d only make me sad.

Seems strange to think that merely a week ago, I still thought David might be, “the one,” yet here I am in the same country, no longer able to ring him for one of our signature lengthy chats that I’d smile over, long after we hung up. I really miss the sound of his voice. Actually, I miss everything about him, however, I have to get my head around the fact he’s part of the past, no longer in the present and definitely not the future.

The reality of “over,” feels harsh.

 

November 28th, 1990

November 28th, 1990

At home, England

 

My bum is numb from so much time on the phone today!

Millie – How was Thanksgiving with Mr. LA?

It didn’t happen.

Why not?

Apparently, he’s gay.

She started to laugh, then promptly stopped. You’re kidding, right?

I’m not kidding, Millie. He met someone else. A guy.

He can’t be gay. You slept with him!

 

Annabel – Miss McGarr! I just wanted to ring and see how you are.

Thanks Annabel, that’s sweet of you.

Are you ok?

I will be.

I’m so sorry. Such a dreadful shock. I shall never forget how sad you looked.

I’m so glad you were there, thank you for everything.

Oh gosh, it was nothing. Listen, don’t forget Christmas Eve. I’m lining up a bevy of beauties for you to choose from!

 

Lorna – Hiya honey, so, how was it?

Thanksgiving?

Aye.

It was terrible and that’s putting it mildly.

Och, dull family, I had a feeling.

Actually, I didn’t get to meet them.

Why not?

David and I split up.

You better be bloody kidding!

Sadly, I’m not.

What happened?

He met somebody else.

Who is it?

A guy. He’s seeing a guy.

Silence.

First time for everything.

 

Frankie – Hello darling, are you still stuffed, if you know what I mean, bwahhahaha!

Not at all. Thanksgiving didn’t happen.

Oh no, the aircraft went tech?

No, the boyfriend met someone else and dumped me.

No way!

Unfortunately, yes.

Crumbs. I wonder who she is?

He. It’s a he.

A guy?

Yes.

But you-

Yes, I slept with him.

Shit!

No shit.

 

 

 

 

November 27th, 1990

November 27th, 1990

At home, England

Woke up crying from a dream in which I was floating in the sea with David. We were entwined in an embrace, when I saw a look of horror flash across his face. I turned to see sharks, hundreds of them, making their way in our direction. David let go and swam away from me. I screamed his name over and over, but just as the sharks began circling me, he disappeared underwater. That’s when I woke up and saw mum in the doorway, her expression not unlike that of David’s in the dream.

“Wit’s the matter?”

“I had a nightmare,” I sniffed.

“I heard you screaming,” she said. “Are you alright?”

“It was a really disturbing dream.”

“Sounds like this depression,” she sighed.

“Climb in,” I said, pushing the duvet down. “I’m going to make us tea and toast, then we need to have a chat.”

“I’m no interested in talking about this,” she uttered, sounding like a petulant child.

“I don’t want to talk about you mum,” I said, my angry tone surprising me. “There’s some stuff I need to tell you.”

Her posture straightened and she looked at me in a way she never has. “Did something bad happen in LA?”

I nodded. “I don’t even know where to begin.”

“You stay where you are,” she motioned. “I’ll make the tea and toast.”

“Are you sure?” I asked, shocked by the transformation in her.

“Aye,” she said, fluffing the duvet around me. “I’ll be right back.”

Typically, when mum crashes, it can be months before she starts the slow climb back up but for whatever reason, my words hit a chord with her, propelling her into another state of being.

She returned with the antique tray, laden with all sorts and placed it on the bedside table, then she perched on the edge of the bed, reminding me of David. She poured the tea and handed me a slice of buttery toast “Go on,” she urged.

I started telling her about David, in between which, she plied me with tea and more toast, not interrupting even once, which is very unlike her. When I was done, she hugged me tight and said she was sorry and that if she was, “Feeling just a wee bit chirpier, I’d fly to LA and wring his bloody neck,” which of course made me laugh.

We spent the rest of the day in my room, talking about David, Dad and depression. I don’t recall a time when we talked as openly as we did today. I have a tendency to shield mum from anything I think might upset her for fear it will knock her into a downward spiral but today I saw a strength in her I’ve never seen before, especially when she opened up to me as much as I did to her.

“Do you want me to stay tonight?” She asked.

“Are you not ready to go home yet?”

“Aye, I’m ready to go home,” she nodded. “But if you feel you need me to stay with you-”

“I’m ok,” I smiled, reaching over to hug her. “Plenty more fish in the sea, right?”

“Millions,” she smiled. “And all you need is one.”

 

November 26th, 1990

November 26th, 1990

At home, England

I don’t know what took place between mum and dad but frankly I don’t have the energy or inclination to ask. All I know is mum is still here, showing signs of crashing deeper into the dark hole, which I imagine must be terrifying and for that reason alone, I’ll do everything I can to try and help her.

The reality of no more David grabbed me by the throat this morning, when I spotted the dolphin he gave me on top of the dresser. I promptly shoved it in the drawer, then pulled it out again and ended up sitting on the floor crying, clutching it like it had magical powers to make everything good again.

I’m sad I never got to see his new place but the more I think about it, the more likely it seems he moved in with this new guy. I’m angry with him for letting me down and I feel like I deserved more, but what more could he possibly have given me? He’s been hiding (and denying) a huge part of himself for who knows how long, so regardless of how I feel, I hope he’s able to live the rest of his life being true to himself. I always got the impression his family were pretty conservative so I expect coming out might not be easy for him.

There’s so much I want to know and I doubt I’ll ever get answers to my questions but that won’t stop me from asking them.

 

November 25th, 1990

November 25th, 1990

At home, England

Today is the one-year anniversary of Nana’s death, which I suspect is partly responsible for mum’s plummet into this latest episode with depression. I lit some candles for Nana and hoped mum and I could do something special to commemorate the day but the most mum was capable of was going from the couch to the guest bedroom. I sat on the bed, desperately wanting to pour my heart out and be consoled but sadly mum is in no state to help herself, let alone anyone else.

With mum as she is, I rang dad and suggested she spend the night here again. I could tell he was relieved by the suggestion and said he really appreciated the help. I was dreading him mentioning David, so I made an excuse that I had to go before he had the chance to.

I feel the need to talk about David and what happened but at the same time, I just want to lock it all away and pretend it didn’t happen, which I know is utterly ridiculous. I can’t believe I won’t see him again and that he’s no longer part of my life.

After Ben and I split up, I was heartbroken but regardless of whether we’re together or not, I get to see how life is unfolding for him. With David and the distance between us, that won’t happen. It’s not as if I’ll ever bump into him or hear about him through friends. I’ll never know how he’s doing and how life is treating him and the reality of that stings deep. Added to the fact there was no warning, or if there was, I didn’t see it. Everything came to such an abrupt ending which I think I’m still reeling from. Blindsided, for sure.

I can’t help but think if David had told me he met another girl, would I feel different? Would I have made an attempt at finding out more to see if there was any way we could patch things up? I don’t know the answer to that and I don’t want to sound flip but the reality is, he’s not interested in not only me but my gender, so regardless of what I do or don’t do, I guess it doesn’t matter.

It seems ironic that mum is upstairs in bed in zombie mode due to depression and I’m downstairs, feeling like a big part of my world has ended.

 

November 24th, 1990

November 24th, 1990

At home, England

Because of the delay, we didn’t land at LHR ‘til after five tonight, by which time it was already dark and more than dreary looking. I felt utterly depressed on the crew bus to the car park with Andy, for whom I must remember to buy a thank you card. He was an absolute sweetheart and shared so much about how and when he came out to his family, leaving me to hope that if and when David comes out, his family will accept him in the way Andy’s did.

About halfway home, the reality of no relationship with David hit me and I wouldn’t know where to start describing how it feels. I couldn’t wait to get home, crawl into bed and perhaps not get up for a very long time.

When I pulled up, the kitchen light was on. That’s strange I thought. I must’ve forgotten to turn it off. For the first time ever, I left my suitcase in the car and thought I’d freeze to death on the doorstep, fiddling with the key.

I turned on the light in the hall and the living room and felt my heart sink when I spotted mum, asleep on the couch.

“Mum,” I said, gently trying to rouse her. “Mum, are you ok? What are you doing here?”

She made a sound but her eyes remained shut.

“Are you ok? Does dad know you’re here?”

She half opened her eyes but I could tell from the blank stare she was already in what she sadly refers to as, “The dark tunnel.”

“I’ll be right back,” I uttered, heading upstairs, where I grabbed the extra blanket off the bed in the guest room.

I draped the blanket over mum, slipped off her shoes and rang dad.

“Do you know mum’s here?”
“Aye, I’m sorry hen, we had a few, eh, words and she-”

“I understand. She can spend the night here, looks like she’s in a bad way again.”

“It’s that bloody depression, it just creeps up on her and makes her…uff, I don’t even know.”

“I know,” I sighed. “It’s the pits.”
“Make sure she disnae take too many tablets.”

“I’ll see what she has in her bag and give them to her as needed.”

“Thanks hen, I’d come and get her but-” Sensing his voice was about to crack, I said, “Don’t worry, she’s fine here. I’ll keep an eye on her.”

“I should ask how Thanksgiving went, was it good?”

“Eh,” I said, feeling the lump in my throat. “I’ll fill you in later.”

“Aye ok, hen. Give me a wee phone in the morning or if you need anything tonight, disnae matter what time it is. You know that.”

“I do, thanks dad.”

 

November 23rd, 1990

November 23rd, 1990

Night flight from LAX – LHR

Trying to hold it together at 35,000 feet, surrounded by hundreds of strangers is proving to be difficult, but at least we’re homeward bound.

After David left yesterday, I collapsed on the bed and experienced every emotion possible. I sobbed for hours, willing the phone to ring or for him to knock on the door and say he was sorry and he’d made a terrible mistake. Of course none of that happened and somehow the hours ticked by, the tears let up slightly and I got hungry!

I rang room service but with it being Thanksgiving, the hotel was operating with only a skeleton staff, therefore a two-hour minimum time for delivery. Just hearing that made me ravenous, so I willed myself to take a shower, after which I chucked my dress in the bin and vowed never to buy anything ever again in that colour.

When I got to the lobby, I noticed a new crew arriving and in attempt to avoid any familiar faces, I spun around, with the thought I’d slip out again later if I didn’t find a vending machine somewhere in the hotel.

“Miss McGarr!”

Oh no, I thought, scurrying on.

“Miss McGarr!” Knowing Annabel as I do, I knew she’d chase me down, so I stopped and turned.

“Hello you,” she grinned, coming towards me. “Guess who got called out on standby!”

I took one look at her and burst into tears.

“Oh, poppet,” she said. “What’s wrong?”

“I, I, I-” I stuttered.

“It’s ok, it’s ok,” she said, stroking my arm. “Give me your room number, I’ll be there in ten minutes.”

When the gentle knock came, I still wanted it to be David, coming to pick me up as planned with a big smile on his face and a few sneaky kisses before we headed to San Diego.

Annabel barged into my room, her arms laden with biscuits, crisps and a bottle of wine that she promptly opened.

“Ok poppet,” she sighed, filling a glass all the way to the top. “Spill.”

I gulped down most of the wine, then began telling her all that transpired since I arrived yesterday, throughout which she uttered only two words; Sorry and Bastard.

“We need to get you out of this room,” she said. “It reeks of sadness.”

We ended up at the Santa Monica pier and sat quietly on the end, our legs dangling high above the sea, as we watched the sunset.

“See?” she said. “You made it through the first day of your breakup. Now chin up and let’s go find a place to eat before I get you ridiculously drunk.”

We ate at Café Casino then Annabel insisted we go to a bar called Marty McFly’s, where she garnered much attention asking for suggestions from the barman for drinks suitable for a freshly broken heart. He stared at her with a gormless expression and mumbled a few words.

“Do speak up,” she demanded, sounding posher than ever. “I can’t hear you.”

“A pitcher of Margarita’s?” he asked, tentatively.

“Yes!” she exclaimed. “We’ll start with that.”

We stumbled back to the hotel, where Annabel insisted on, “Triple everything in those drinks please, my good friend here has had the most dreadful Thanksgiving.” She winked at me and I couldn’t help but laugh.

Some of my crew were in the bar and were surprised to see me. I was drunk enough to share with them, a mini version of what happened. Andy kept gasping, covering his mouth with his hand and suggested meeting for breakfast, like that was going to happen. Annabel had previously arranged to meet a friend of hers, a girl she went to boarding school with, who now works in Beverly Hills as a nanny (“such salacious sordid tales darling, I’ll fill you in next time.”)

When I got up this morning, there was a note under the door:

“Chin up, lovely girl, see you back in Blighty, where there are plenty of fish, all swimming in your direction! So, so sorry. Hope your head doesn’t feel as bad as mine. And don’t forget Christmas Eve with moi! Not so sloppy kisses, Annabel xxx.”

 

November 22nd, 1990

November 22nd, 1990

Pacific Shore Hotel, Santa Monica, California

An hour before David was due to arrive, I was pacing around the room, feeling more than anxious about how the day might play out and meeting David’s family for the first time. Wondering if I was over/under dressed, if we’d spend the night there, thinking that perhaps he was right after all, to have suggested it might be better for me to meet them during a lesser occasion than Thanksgiving.

I convinced myself that was probably the reason David was so “off,” last night, but when I opened the door and saw how ghastly he looked, my gut told me there was more to it than that. On his way in, he gave me a peck on the cheek, then perched on the edge of the bed.

“You look really pretty,” he uttered, with what I can only describe as a look of sorrow.

I sat in the chair across from him and looked at him, expectantly.

“The colour of that dress really suits you,” he smiled, weakly.

“Thanks,” I croaked.

“Are you ok?”

“No. I feel sick.”
“Why?”

“I think you know why,” I replied, at which point he dropped his head into his hands and started crying.

“I’m sorry,” he muttered, over and over.

I felt myself tense up. “What’s going on?”

“I never wanted to upset you. I don’t want you to hate me.”
“Why would I hate you?”

“For this,” he said, glancing at me.

“For what?” I needed the words to make it real.

“I’ve met someone else.”

I can’t say I was totally shocked. All through the night, I tossed and turned, my mind riveting back and forth between various scenarios, consistently landing on this one.

“I need to be honest with you,” he sniffed.

The word irony flashed through my head.
“Then be honest with me,” I urged.

“It’s not fair to you. It’s not fair to my family. I need to be honest. I’m so sorry. I care about you and I never wanted it to be like this. I want you to know that. You need to know that.”

He was talking much faster than usual, verging on rambling, enough that I felt confused by what he was saying. Dropping his head into his hands again, he stated, “It’s time to be honest.”

We didn’t speak and his body language told me he wanted to curl up into a ball. If I live to be a hundred, I doubt I’ll ever understand what lead me to ask; “This person you’ve met. Is it a girl?”

His head shot up. “How did you know?” he asked.

“I, I don’t,” I stuttered, my stomach somersaulting, making me feel like I was about to throw up.

“Is it…is it a girl?”

He stared out the window and shook his head, no.

“It’s a guy?” I yelled, shooting out of the chair.  “This other person is a guy?” Part of me felt like I was way off track but something told me I wasn’t. “Tell me!” I demanded.

He gave me a blank stare. “It’s what you said.”

“You’re seeing a guy?”

He nodded and started crying again, his head back in his hands.

I darted into the bathroom, closed the door and ran my hands under the cold water for ages. This cannot be happening, I uttered, over and over, my new mantra. I splashed water on my face but avoided looking in the mirror.

When I came out, I sat rigid in the chair. David slid off the bed, scooted over and wrapped his arms tightly around my bare legs. With his head resting against my legs, his hair fell across my lap. It took everything I had not to reach out and stroke it.

There were so many thoughts running through my head; How could I not have seen this coming? How long has he been planning to tell me? Was he just stringing me along? Is any of what we shared real? Was he just using me? Each thought got caught up in the next and my breathing reacted accordingly. I wanted to ask who, when, why, how? Plus, a thousand other questions I really didn’t want answers to.

Fueled by a fresh sense of fury, I said, “Do I need to get tested for AIDS?”

He looked up at me, a look I’ll never forget.  “No. This is very recent,” he said, his voice barely a whisper. “I’ve tried so hard to deny it, but I can’t any longer. I’m so sorry. I truly am.”

I moved to get up and he reached for my hand. As I stood, I helped pull him up off the floor.

“How much do you hate me?”

“I don’t hate you David.”

He pulled me tight into him and we stood by the window. The sky was, as always, clear and blue and the palm trees swayed. In the distance the water glistened, taunting me as I cried into his crisp white shirt and felt his tears land on my head.

We stayed in that embrace for a long time, before he kissed my forehead, then turned and left.

 

November 21st, 1990

November 21st, 1990

Flight from LHR – LAX

Pacific Shore Hotel, Santa Monica, California

It’s easy to fall in love with a place where the palm trees sway in the light ocean breeze and the sky is always clear. The hard part is being in such idyllic surroundings, alone.

I could hardly wait to get to my room and ring David but when I did, battle axe (aka his secretary) picked up. The last thing I wanted to do was argue with her, so I left a message and shortly afterwards, he rang me back.

“I’m in room three two o,” I said.

“I’ll meet you in the bar at eight. Gotta go.”

Not allowing myself to read too much into his words, I met my crew in the bar and wasted no time using the drink chits the hotel provides. By the time I spotted David in the lobby, I was two Long Island Iced Teas into the evening, feeling pretty mellow.
At the sight of him, dressed in smart but casual work clothes, his hair freshly windswept, a sliver of guilt ran through me, which I choked down as I made my way over to him.

“Hi,” I smiled, kissing his cheek. “How are you?”

“Wiped,” he stated, his smile faint. “And hungry.”

“Fancy a drink before we eat?”

He shook his head, his expression stern. “Let’s get outta here.”

I waved to my crew in the bar, through the glass wall and gestured we were, “going out.” Andy, who I worked with for the first time today, gave a “thumbs up” and a look of approval that made me laugh.

David took a left out of the hotel and didn’t reach for my hand like he usually does. In my head, I was making excuses for his apparent lack of interest, attributing it to work stuff and how stressful it must’ve been for him to leave before a holiday weekend.

We didn’t speak until he stopped outside a tiny Mexican restaurant we’ve passed many times before, not two minutes from the hotel.

“Is this good?” he asked.

“Looks great,” I smiled.

Over the menu, I asked if he knew what he wanted, hoping he’d get my meaning and leave the work day behind.

“Something quick,” he said. “I don’t want a late night.”

In retaliation, I ordered a pitcher of Margarita’s, a starter and a main course. My stomach was churning with an unfamiliar feeling of not really knowing what to say, so I drank way more than I should’ve, immediately regretting it the second I stood up and excused myself.

In the restroom, I looked in the mirror and wondered if David sensed I’d been with someone else. Maybe I should come clean and tell him, I thought, just get it all out in the open, but when I returned to the table, his smile looked sincere.

Finally, I thought. That’s more like it.

Sadly, it was short lived and the moment I placed my knife and fork on the empty plate, he flagged down the waitress.

“La cuenta, por favor.”

In the hotel lobby, I waved to the stragglers at the bar and asked David if he was interested in a nightcap before we went upstairs.

“No.”

“No to what?”

“To both.”

“Oh,” I uttered. “You’re not staying?”

“With the early start tomorrow and the drive, I need a good night’s sleep.”

I felt the anger rise and could no longer contain it.

“What’s happening tomorrow?”

He glared at me in a way I’ve never seen. “You cannot seriously be asking me that.”

Not missing a beat, I retorted, “I seriously am.”

“We’re going to San Diego. For Thanksgiving. With my folks.” He said it like he was reading the phone book.

“Really?” I sneered. “It’d be nice if you’d given me some notice.”

“I asked you like a million times,” he hissed.

“Yeah, then you kept changing your mind!”

I knew the lobby was no place for a scene, so, forcing myself to sound calmer, I asked if he really wanted me to go with him.

“I just told you I did,” he said, not looking at me. “I’ll pick you up at nine.”

He turned and I watched the back of him disappear through the door.

Avoiding any eye contact with the remaining crew I knew were watching from the bar, I made my way to the lift but ended up taking the stairs, by which time I was in tears.