June 11th, 1991

June 11th, 1991

At home, England

“I really don’t think it’s a big deal,” said Pamsy on the phone. “What’s so awful about it?”

“I just don’t like it!”

“Well you can’t change it.”

“I know,” I sighed. “But-”

“But what?”

“I don’t know how my mum and dad will react.”

“I think they’ll be fine. Our parents aren’t as old fashioned as we think they are and I think as long as you’re happy, they’ll be ok with it.”

“I hope you’re right.”

“Of course I am,” she chuckled. “Besides, you’ll feel better after you discuss it with William.”

“Hopefully, but I don’t know when that’ll be. He’s on an intensive training course then right after it finishes, they’re sending him out to sea. Argh, I’m so upset.”

“Listen, I’m sorry you’re upset but try and put it in perspective. It’s not like he has five kids or something!”

I opened my mouth to speak and burst into tears.

“Oh don’t cry, everything’s going to be fine. You love him and he loves you and I’m sure, given what Scott told you, it’s been really difficult for William.”

“I know,” I sniffed, “But I just wanted-”

“Everything to be perfect?”

“Uh-huh.”

“It doesn’t work like that, Karen, you know that. Love stuff is never easy.”
“I just wish,” I croaked, “he’d told me he was married before.”

 

 

May 25th, 1991

May 25th, 1991

Night flight from JFK – LHR

Met Christopher for lunch in Central Park, something he now does regularly, after, as he jokingly put it, “A Brit introduced me to it!”

“So good to see you again,” he smiled, halfway through his Ruben sandwich.

“And you. How’s Laurie?”

“Good. She’s good.”

“Seriously Christopher? You must know by now that I need way more than that!”

He laughed. “She’s busy making plans for the…our wedding.”

“Do you have any say in it?”

“Not really,” he said with a little chuckle.

“Seems to be the way.”

“Do you think William will be involved in your wedding plans?”

“Whoa! Did I say I’m getting married?”

“You’re engaged. Isn’t marriage the next step?”

“Actually, we’re not technicallyengaged.”

He burst out laughing. “You’re gonna have to explain that.”

“William expressed a deep interest in buying me a ring, that I just happen to wear on the finger that gets all the attention.”
His expression was questioning. “So, you’re not getting married?”

“I think we will at some point but-”

Another quizzical look. “You sound hesitant.”

I let out a deep sigh. “While I was on the island, everything felt surreal but now we’re apart it’s different. It’s difficult being so far away from each other. To be honest, I feel lonelier than ever.”

Giving my hand a little squeeze, he said, “They say true love always finds a way.”

“I s’pose that’s true but I just don’t want to get ahead of myself. Does that make sense?”

Never daring to speak with his mouth full, Christopher nodded enthusiastically, while I took a bite of my sandwich and motioned for him to continue.

“I Iove Laurie, I really do. She’s amazing but…well.” He looked away and I wanted to prompt him but I managed to keep my mouth shut. “Sometimes,” he continued, “I think family pressure played a role. You know, an almost thirty-year old unmarried man raises questions in the family circle and I know you’re younger than me, but haven’t you felt any pressure from your family?”

“Not at all. I mean, my mum has always been obsessed with weddings and anything of a romantic nature but no pressure as such about actually getting married, although when I told her William wanted to buy me a ring, she wasted no time in marching me to the antique jewelry shop.”

He cracked up laughing. “See what I mean?”

“Hmmm, I never really thought of it as pressure but now you mention it, I suppose there’s a, what would you call it? Expectation. There’s an unspoken expectation.”

“Exactly!”

“But you’re still getting married next October, right?”

“Yes,” he nodded. “In Connecticut. The guest list is currently hovering around two twenty but Laurie’s thinking it’ll end up being more like two fifty.”

“Phew,” I whistled. “That’s a lotta people!”

“Yes, it is,” he said, looking more unsure than I’ve ever seen him.

 

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.

 

March 16th, 1991

March 16th, 1991

At home

New roster arrived in this morning’s post and I have a four day trip to Los Angeles! This will be my first time back since that wretched morning last November, when David came to my hotel room and turned my world upside down.

As part of mum’s upcoming 50th birthday gift, I suggested she accompany me on the trip, which involved not a second of arm twisting! Of course I want mum to see LA but having her presence will be really nice, just in case it hurts more than I think it might.

 

March 10th, 1991

March 10th, 1991

Flight from BDA – NAS – BDA

Hamilton Princess Hotel, Bermuda

I’m so enjoying this trip, which took precedence over a weekend in the English countryside at what I expect would be some stately home (ah!) owned by Jacob’s parents. Frankie and I had a good laugh after I remembered I was actually due to be here in Bermuda for Lorna’s wedding!

Just rolled in from a most entertaining evening with the wedding gang. We’re all so familiar with each other that it’s hard to believe we only met just over two years ago. Life for all of us has changed so much, all from joining British Airways as Cabin Crew.

Operated the shuttle to and from Nassau, with high winds and a deluge that drenched us while we waited for the crew bus to appear. Carl said the only remedy for the cold was rum and lots of it, so we headed to his room to put his theory to the test!

Several hours later, we made our way into town. I walked with Lorna, who seemed quieter than usual.

“Penny for your thoughts,” I said, linking my arm through hers.

“I’m just thinking about tomorrow,” she said, sounding wistful.

I squeezed her arm. “It’s going to be amazing!”

Carl and Daniel lead the way,  with Klaus walking between them. Klaus kept looking back, blowing kisses in Lorna’s direction.

“Look at him,” I said. “He’s totally gaga about you.”

“He is that,” she sighed.

Sensing something that I couldn’t put my finger on, I stopped walking. “Lorna, is there anything you want to talk about?”

“Nah,” she said. “I think I’ve just got a bad case of the wedding jitters.”

“I can only imagine what a big deal it is.”

“I think it’s just, you know, moving to Holland dealing with his family and stuff. It feels like a lot.”

I nodded. “I think once you’re married it’ll be different.”

She gave me a questioning look.

“What I mean is, I think your relationship with his family will be different.”

“How so?”

“I think once you’re his wife, it’ll be easier for you to tell them to piss off,” I said, making her laugh.

 

February 27th, 1991

February 27th, 1991

At home, England

It’s my 24th birthday and I’m in bed. Alone! Sober!

“Oh, hello, pleased to meet you, I’d like to introduce myself but I have no idea who I am!”

The day began with William on the phone.

“What time is it in Antigua?” I asked, through a huge yawn.

“Early but I didn’t want to miss your birthday.”

“That was nice,” I said, meaning it.

“You sound wiped.”

I didn’t feel the need to explain that my ex-ex-boyfriend had left merely a few hours before and that I’d been so gutted by the news of his “amazing new girlfriend,” I hadn’t been able to sleep for hours.

“Are you still planning on coming back to the island?”

“Yes! And Millie wants to come as well.” No response. “Are you still there?”

“Yeah, I’m here,” he said.

“I take it Millie isn’t your cup of tea?”

“I just figured you’d come alone.”

“She’s quite forceful,” I laughed. “I don’t think she’ll let me go without her but she’s coming to my party later, so depending on her mood, I may or may not broach the subject!”

“I gotta get ready for work,” he said, as though he was ringing from down the street and not four thousand miles away.

“Oh, ehm, ok, I’ll talk to you soon?”

“Sure,” he said, before hanging up.

Over birthday lunch with mum (followed by carrot cake, yum!) I told her about William’s reaction.

“I cannae blame him,” she said.

“Do you think I should just tell Millie I’m going by myself?”

“Not if you value your life,” she chuckled.

It was interesting observing the dynamics of my friends, most of whom met for the first time tonight. Florence and Millie clashed and Sarah, Lulu and JoJo got on like a house on fire. Unfortunately, Pamsy couldn’t make it and Frankie was on a trip, which was a shame as I’d like to have seen how the pair of them fit into the mix.

I was hoping for some sort of birthday message from Ben, but nothing, not even a crappy card.