April 23rd, 1991

April 23rd, 1991

Scott’s house, Antigua

Farewell to Millie! She never did open the bedroom door to any of us and when we got up yesterday morning, she was gone! I knew there was no flight to LHR ‘til tonight, so Scott went to the airport and lo and behold, there she was, checking in. Scott said he was afraid to approach her for fear of another confrontation but felt better knowing she was safe. He also said he felt relieved knowing her departure from the island was imminent!

I feel bad Millie and I weren’t able to work things out but this isn’t the first time I’ve found her to be utterly unreasonable and I’m tired of her lashing out, then acting like everything is fine, when in fact, it’s the opposite.

Millie doesn’t like William, that much was obvious, but I think a good friend should support your choice/s and if they’re not in keeping with their expectation, then perhaps they ought to just keep their mouth shut, instead of berating you!

Anyway, she’s gone and I’m going to enjoy the remainder of my time here getting to know William, which I have to say, is going swimmingly!

 

 

 

 

 

April 21st, 1991

April 21st, 1991

Scott’s house, Antigua

Millie has been on the island for approximately twenty-eight hours, the majority of which were fun, until tonight, when she fell into one of her moods, then lost her temper, after I asked if she fancied going into town after dinner!

Scott and William were outside on the deck and Scott came running in to see what the racket was. Millie hissed a few not so nice words in his direction, then stormed upstairs, slammed the bedroom door shut, then proceeded to yell how much she hates us!

Over dinner (awkward to say the least!) Scott asked if I’ve ever seen Millie act this way. “Ehm, she can be a little moody at times,” I stuttered, feeling absolutely mortified.   “What should we do?” He looked more than a little concerned, unlike William, who appears completely oblivious to the situation. Either that or he’s taking a back seat, which is probably wise. “Best thing to do is just let her stew.”

Scott chuckled. “You Brits and your expressions. How long will that take?”

“I’m not quite sure.”

That was five hours ago!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

April 19th, 1991

April 19th1991

At Scott’s house, Antigua

Back on the island of Antigua after an incredible couple of days with William in Dominica that started out rocky but ended silky smooth!

Scott is getting ready for Millie’s arrival tomorrow and he seems anxious about seeing her again. He also told me he’s hoping to rekindle some of “what they had,” last year and said if it goes half as well as my reunion with William, he’ll be happy!

It’s sure to be interesting!

 

 

 

 

 

April 17th, 1991

April 17th, 1991

Dominica

The first words out of William’s mouth, in the tiny terminal in Antigua, almost a year after seeing him last, were; “Do you want to go to Dominica tomorrow?” Needless to say, I said yes because I’m sunning myself on a tropical beach, while William spends the day at work,  in some remote location!

The tiny plane we took here was bobbing about so much, I thought I might throw up but fortunately with such a short flight time, I managed to keep it together.

William rented a Jeep that tore its way through rugged, makeshift roads, kicking up dust while the sun beat down on us, before the road suddenly opened to the expansive beach, with not a soul around.

“Is that where we’re staying?” I asked, pointing to a small bright yellow building, only a few feet from the surf. William nodded yes and I expected him to tell me something about it but he just kept driving. I get the impression he’s one of those people who can only do one thing at a time.

That might be a problem!

 

 

April 16th, 1991

April 16th, 1991

Flight from LGW – ANU, as a passenger

Enjoying the luxury of 3A as we wing our way to the island of Antigua, where I’ll be enjoying the sun and sea for the next two weeks.

Spent last night at Millie’s and appreciate her keeping my car at hers, to avoid the astronomical charges for the convenience of parking at Gatwick. We stayed up late talking about Antigua and how great it’ll be when Millie gets there but mostly we talked about David.

“Are you glad you saw him and by the way, I still can’t believe you rang him!”

“Nor can I! I don’t know what came over me.”

“Did seeing him again help?”

“Big time,” I nodded.

“In a good way?”

“I still found him really attractive, or at least I did ‘til he mentioned Michael’s name, then something changed. I can’t really explain it.”

She gave me a quizzical look. “Seems pretty obvious to me.”

“Yes, but I think I needed to hear it to make it real.”

“So, are you ready and able to close the David chapter now?”
“Not just the chapter, the entire book.”

“That’s progress,” she smiled, refilling my wine glass.

“Yes, I do believe it is.”

“Good for you Madison. And now you can go to Antigua with a clear mind and see how you feel about William, right?”

I laughed. “Slow down!”

“Let’s be honest,” she said. “You’re not just going for the rum punch!”

“Obviously not but to be honest, I have no expectation.”

Aside from the fact William is coming to meet me at the airport!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

April 13th, 1991

April 13th, 1991

Night flight from LAX – LHR

To say I’m sad to be going home is a serious understatement and there’s no way an hour of crew rest will allow me to write about everything that happened today. Once again, mum is cocooned in the First Class cabin, no doubt having her every whim attended to.

Another early morning walk before breakfast, after which I wanted to change before going to the pool. Mum was eager to soak up as many rays as possible so I told her I’d meet her there.

I sat on the bed, starting at the phone and next thing I knew, I was dialing David’s  number! Being a Saturday, I knew nobody would be at his office, thereby granting me the luxury of listening to his voice on the recorded message.

After three rings, I heard, “This is David,” and felt my heart do that flutter thing, then the voice stopped and I realized it was him and not a recording!

“Day vid,” I stuttered, a wave of panic washing over me.

“Karen?”

“Ehm, yes, hi, it’s me.”

“Wow! This is a surprise!”

You can say that again!

We talked for what felt like ages before he asked where I was.

“Are you serious?”

“Deadly,” I smiled.

“How long are you here?”

“About another five hours!”
“Can I take you to lunch?”
“Yes! That’d be lovely,” I blurted, surprising myself. “Oh but wait, ehm, my mum is with me!”

He laughed. “I miss your expressions. And I’d love to meet your mom. I can be there in an hour. Does that work?”

“Totally,” I drawled, feeling the smile spreading over my face.

I paced around the room for a while before making my way down to the pool, where, needless to say, mum was all ears. “Are you sure you want me to go with you?”
“Of course, you have to come!”

“And are you sure you want to see him?”

I nodded. “I think it’ll help me to put it to bed, so to speak.”

“Right then,” she said. “Let’s get the glad rags on and show him how it’s done!”

Watching the familiar sight of David’s car pulling in, I took a deep breath and readied myself for the wave of emotions I expected I’d feel. He stepped out of the car looking as gorgeous as ever (maybe even more so with slightly shorter hair) and made his way first to mum, whose gushy reaction was the perfect ice breaker.

“Hey you,” he smiled, reaching to kiss my cheek, that culminated in a hug. “You doing good?”

“Very,” I nodded, a sudden sense of relief that the initial meeting was over. We stepped back from each other, smiled, then went in for another solid hug.

“You look awesome,” he said.

“Thanks,” I chirped, as he held the door open for mum.

Being in the car with mum and David felt very natural and we laughed about the times David rang the house, only to be bombarded by questions from mum, before she’d finally tell him I was away on a trip!

“Is there anywhere special you’d like to go, Karen?” David said, catching my eye in the rearview mirror. “How about Malibu?” I suggested, if only for the longer car ride and the chance to glance furtively at his baby blues.

Not far from the PCH, we found a cool looking Mexican restaurant and sat outside. Once the starter plates were cleared, mum excused herself and headed for the loo. David reached his hand across the table and I rested my fingers in his palm.

“I’m glad you called. It’s so good to see you.”

“You too,” I smiled.

“Your mom is a blast. It’s so awesome to finally meet her.”

“She’s really enjoying herself. I can’t believe she’s fifty.”

“She makes fifty look good, huh?”

I nodded and he gently squeezed my fingers. “How are you doing, Karen?”

I choked back the lump in my throat and said, “I’m getting on with it.”

“Good, that’s good.”

“And you?” I asked.

“Better.” He paused. “Last year was tough. For you, as well.  I really wanted to call, write, do something but I didn’t think it was…appropriate. I’m so sorry for the way everything…ended.”

“Me too,” I sighed. “But that’s all behind us now and we need to live in the present.”

“I always loved your attitude.” His use of the past tense stung so I quickly moved my fingers away and picked up my glass.

“Karen,” he said, slowly. “You need to know how special you were…are…to me. It’s important to me that you know that.”

“Likewise,” I uttered, unable to look at him.

“Are you happy?” he asked.

“Like I said, I’m getting there. And you? Are you happy, David?”

His gentle smile reminded me why I left my contact info in his jacket pocket on the flight to Delhi almost two years ago. But then his answer, “I am,” and the way he said it snapped me back to the present, making me feel cheated. “Does your happiness have a name?” It came out exactly as I felt and he hesitated before replying. “Do you really want to know?”
“Yes,” I stated.
“Michael. His name is Michael.”

I felt my stomach lurch as I mouthed, “Michael,” before saying it out loud. “Michael.” Saying the name brought everything into focus and when I looked at David, I thought of them together in the way he used to be with me and a shot of rage passed through me, swiftly followed by a deep sense that this was finally, “It.”

“Are you seeing anyone?” he said, catching me off guard.

I told him about my upcoming holiday to Antigua to see William, touching briefly on the long chats and letters we’ve recently shared.

“He sounds cool.”

“He’s a little… different. I can’t put my finger on it, but he’s a nice guy and I believe his intentions are good.”

Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted mum coming back and either to lighten the mood or maybe for the purpose of acknowledgement, I blurted, “I just hope he isn’t gay!”

David’s expression was one of shock but when I started laughing, he did the same, so much so that when mum returned, we were still chuckling.

The remainder of lunch and the drive back was entirely pleasant and bittersweet all at the same time and with only forty minutes to spare before call time, mum said a quick goodbye, before heading into the hotel.

“I’m so happy you called,” David said, opening his arms wide. I tucked myself into him, closed my eyes and slowly breathed him in.

“Be happy,” he said, kissing the top of my head. “Be really, really happy.” His voice cracked and when I looked up, I wasn’t surprised to see his tears.

“You too,” I croaked, before pulling away, for what I knew would be the very last time.

 

 

 

April 12th, 1991

April 12th, 1991

Pacific Shore Hotel, Santa Monica, California

Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start (sorry, high on LA!)

Thanks to the eight-hour time change, mum and I were up before the crack of dawn, so we walked to the Santa Monica Pier, then popped into Café Boulangerie and devoured pancakes doused in syrup (oh my!)

On the way back to the hotel, I chuckled when mum said, “I’ve yet to see an ugly person!”

“It’s illegal here,” I joked (kind of!) “And I doubt they eat what we just had.”

“Och well,” mum said. “You only live once.”

I was surprised to see a few fellow crew waiting for the tour bus, the first stop of which was the hotel where the Virgin Atlantic crew stay. I was so hoping Ben wouldn’t be one of them. Any sign of him would have completely ruined mum’s day!

Mum was beside herself with excitement as we drove through Beverly Hills and said she couldn’t believe she was so close to so many of her, “Favourite Hollywood stars.” The tour guide was (wait for it!) an aspiring actor, who, upon request, did impressions of pretty much everyone, which was highly entertaining (and garnered plenty of tips!)

Spent the day at Disney, under the brilliant California sun that I doubt I’d ever tire of. Mum mentioned umpteen times how much she was enjoying herself and even though I’ve done all the touristy stuff before, it was nice to enjoy it through fresh eyes.

Back to the hotel for showers and a change of clothes, followed by a quick drink with a bunch of crew who didn’t appear fit for much other than holding up the bar! With such a huge time difference, I usually feel the same but with mum in tow, resting was not an option!

Being mum’s birthday dinner, I didn’t want to chance a new restaurant, so I took her to the cool Italian place I used to frequent with David. I quickly scanned the room, half hoping he’d be there, the other half relieved he wasn’t!

Mum loved watching the sunset from the roof terrace and declared, “Life begins at fifty!”

 

 

 

April 11th, 1991

April 11th, 1991

Flight from LHR – LAX

Pacific Shore Hotel, Santa Monica, California

I love New York like there’s no tomorrow, but LA pulls at my heartstrings like no place else.

One of the many amazing perks of working for an airline is staff travel. Both my parents qualify for staff travel concessions, so mum’s ticket was just over a hundred quid, which, considering the upgrade to First Class, is pretty incredible. We crew look out for our own and make sure accompanying family members receive the best service in the best cabin, as witnessed by mum’s beaming smile after landing.

Felt pretty nostalgic on the crew bus as we whizzed our way past the palm trees, to beachy Santa Monica but mum’s incessant chatter kept me from dwelling too much on that dreadful morning last November, when David came to my room and told me he’s gay.

I can’t deny the pang of sadness I felt walking into the hotel lobby but I pushed it aside and wasted no time changing and meeting the crew in the bar, where we enjoyed the hotel’s legendary Long Island Iced Teas (a further reminder of the countless times David met me here.)

In an effort to shake off any lingering memories, I suggested we take a walk to Venice Beach. The light is one of my favourite things about this place and tonight was no exception, with pale pink streaks painting the sky as mum and I strolled down the beach, oohing and aahing at the sight of the Pacific (and the gargantuan bodybuilders!)

“What do you think, mum?” I said, taking her arm.

“It’s some place, isn’t it? I’ve never seen anything like it.”

“Isn’t it beautiful?”

“Stunning,” she smiled. “Are you ok?”

“Uh-huh,” I nodded, breathing in the balmy air, another vivid reminder of the magical nights I spent with David, on his rooftop terrace.

 

April 7th, 1991

April 7th, 1991

At home, England

Millie rang to apologize for her ridiculous ranting last night about Antigua and how she felt, “put out,” by the fact I’m going sooner than I thought.

“If you’re so upset,” I said, in a newfound bold tone, “Then don’t bother coming. I’m not forcing you to.”

“I’ll get there a few days after you arrive. Will that be ok?”

Only if you lose your deplorable attitude, I wanted to say. “Yes, that’ll be fine.”

“I’m really looking forward to it,” she said.

I resisted the urge to respond with the standard, “Me too,” and changed the subject.

We stayed on the phone for about an hour, mostly talking about my upcoming trip to Los Angeles.

“Is your mum excited?”

“She’s beside herself!”

“I can just imagine,” Millie laughed, sounding more like herself again. “You two will have a great time. Right?”

“I believe so.”

“It won’t upset you, you know, being there again?”

“I hope not,” I sighed. “I just want to show my mum around and celebrate her birthday.”

“So you don’t plan on seeing David?”

“Absolutely not!” I blurted, my words not quite matching how I felt.

“What would you do if you bumped into him?”

“Millie! I’m not going to be bump into him, he doesn’t live anywhere near where we’re going.”

“I thought you didn’t know where he moved to?”

“I might have done some, eh, some snooping.”

“You mean stalking?”
“No, I mean investigating,” I said, trying not to laugh.

“And what did Miss Marple discover?”
“Where he lives, as well as a phone number.”

Millie made a sound of disapproval but it wasn’t very convincing. “Well,” she continued, “Tell your mum to have a lovely time and I guess I’ll see you in Antigua.”

“You’ll see me before I leave. I’m leaving my car at yours, remember?”

“Oh yeah, I forgot. Ok, great, so I’ll see you then. Have fun in LA and don’t be sad.”

“I won’t,” I uttered, not quite believing it.