January 19th, 1992

January 19th, 1992

San Francisco, California

I think to most people, California conjures up images of sunshine, palm trees, endless beaches and movie making, but I just came back from grabbing some tea and a muffin at the little place next door and I’m chilled to the bone! So much so that I jumped back into bed and piled on the extra blankets I found in the wardrobe.

We arrived yesterday afternoon and I managed to stay up ‘til ten last night which, considering we’re eight hours behind UK time, was pretty good. Still, no matter how late I stay up on this side of the world, I always wake up at some ridiculous hour feeling groggy and ravenous, hence the jaunt to the coffee shop!

Hopefully it’ll warm up today as a bunch of us are catching the boat over to Alcatraz.  Anna from my crew said it’s very eerie and the stories will make me shiver! I’m looking forward to seeing the place where Al Capone spent a chunk of his life but first, I might have to buy a coat!

 

January 16th, 1992

January 16th, 1992

At home, England

“Who gets married on Leap Year Day?” Pamsy screeched on the phone. “You’ll only get an anniversary gift every four years!” We continued chatting about my upcoming nuptials and when I told her how brutal Winter is in New England, she joked, “You might be better off wearing a white snowsuit and gloves!”

I have no idea how I’ll balance wearing something I like versus something I won’t freeze in! Mum, on the other hand, already bought a hat and not one but four new outfits, all of which would be much more suited to a wedding in Hawaii.

Planning a wedding while your fiancé is involved in rescue efforts at sea, for people fleeing their homeland in makeshift boats, seems frivolous so I’m glad our wedding isn’t going to be some frothy frock affair.

Growing up, I never gave much thought to my wedding, unlike some of my friends that have been planning “the big day,” since they started talking! I’ve never really understood putting all that emphasis on one day, when the really important part is the years that follow.

I’m excited that we at least have a date but I wish William didn’t have to head back out to sea so soon after. Between his work and mine, we decided to put our Honeymoon on hold until I get my Green Card and can live in the States legally, but who knows when that will be.

It’s crazy to think that in just six plus weeks, I’ll be married!

 

December 31st, 1991

December 31st, 1991

Benalmadena, Spain

Mum was mightily surprised this afternoon, when she opened the door to find me standing there.

“Happy Anniversary!” I exclaimed, attempting not to drop the bag of Duty Free goodies, as Mum lunged at me for a hug.

“Tom! Tom!” She yelled. “C’mere!”

Dad was out on the balcony, his face turned to the sun.

“He can’t hear you, Mum, the door’s shut.”

“Och, yer a wee rascal,” she chuckled. “You should have told us you were coming.”

“Then it wouldn’t be a surprise,” I said, removing the bottles of Champagne and chocolates I bought at the airport.

“Ooohh,” Mum cooed, pointing to the cabinet behind me. “Glasses are in there. Did you just arrive?”

“Uh-huh, the flight got in at half two.”

“Did you get the train?”

I nodded. “So easy isn’t it, and really inexpensive. Plus, you know me, I like to people watch.”

Mum squeezed me tightly. “Dad will be so happy to see you!”

“Looks like you’ve been enjoying the sun,” I said, just as the Champagne cork popped, making Mum jump. “Gets me every time,” she laughed as I filled the glasses, the bubbles fizzing away.

“The sound of celebration,” I said, keeping an eye on Dad as we crept in his direction.

Slowly, Mum opened the door and stepped outside as I remained out of view.

“Och, Champagne, now that’s fancy,” Dad said.

“Aye well, it’s no every day you celebrate twenty-five years of marriage,” Mum uttered, as I peered out to see her leaning in for a peck, before handing the glass to Dad.

“Where’s yours, Liz?”

“Right here,” I said, stepping into view.

A look of what I can only describe as astonishment flashed across Dad’s face. “Ya wee rascal,” he said, shooting up, wrapping me in a hug.

“That’s what Mum said!”

“You’re meant to be in New York.”

I shook my head. “Sorry, that was a white lie.”

We raised our glasses and clinked them together.

“Happy Anniversary to my lovely Mum and Dad, and here’s to many more!”

“Thank you, hen,” Dad smiled. “What a brilliant surprise.”

“Certainly is,” Mum said. “Oh, and Happy Hogmanay.”

“That’s right,” I said, looking at my watch. “Only eight hours of nineteen ninety-one remain!”

“Here’s to my two favourite lassies,” Dad said. “Here’s to us.”

“Here’s to us,” Mum and I echoed with another clink.

 

December 10th, 1991

December 10th, 1991

At home, England

Mum is fond of telling me I’m still young enough to make mistakes without having to worry too much about the consequences. So, with that in mind, I returned to Massachusetts and spent a fantastic week with William, enough so that I came home with my engagement ring planted firmly on my finger and my head filled with preliminary plans for our wedding next year!

As if that isn’t enough, I decided to rent out my house and promptly found a young, newly married couple who already moved in! Consequently, all of my furniture (etc.!) is now at mum and dad’s, including my beloved striped couch from Habitat that I saved long and hard for. It’s presently taking up most of the space in the hallway but (much to dad’s dismay) it’s great for lounging on during long phone conversations. Mum suggested I sell it and laughed when I told her I’m not ready for that level of commitment quite yet!

Between work trips I plan on commuting to Boston to spend as much time as possible with William and when he goes out to sea, I’ll be here, back in my old room but that will all change after we get married.

Without knowing the expiration date on this age versus mistakes thing, I plan on going full throttle to create the kind of life I truly want, in the hopes it’ll at work out!

 

November 4th, 1991

November 4th, 1991

Night flight from BOS – LHR, as a passenger

“Maddie!” Frankie beamed, the second she spotted me stepping onboard, motioning for me to follow her. Instead of taking a right, in the direction of the seat number stated on the boarding card, I followed Frankie through the curtain, to the First Class galley.

“Have you just been to see William?” she said, giving me a huge hug.

“Yes!”

“I knew it!” she said. “You’re glowing. Wait here a sec.”

She strode into the First Class cabin and tapped the Cabin Service Director on the shoulder. He turned his attention from a seated passenger to Frankie, leaned into her whisper and glanced in my direction. He grinned, nodded yes and I held Frankie’s gaze as she sauntered through the cabin, back towards the galley.

“Result,” she mouthed, quickly stepping aside to make room for a young couple. “Good evening and welcome onboard.” Her demeanor was all business as she checked their boarding cards. “Thank you, Mr. and Mrs. Starbuck, may I take your coats?”

While they unfurled their scarves, and unbuttoned their matching camel coats, Frankie chit chatted with them, her air professional but friendly. Once they’d entered the cabin she gave me a coy look. “As for you, my lovely, I got you the best seat in the house and you know what that means.”

I gave her a questioning look.

“Bubbles, lots and lots of yummy bubbles. Now follow me please, Miss McGarr.”

 

November 2nd, 1991

November 2nd, 1991

At William’s family home, New Hampshire, USA

William was feeling poorly this morning so he stayed behind while I ventured out with his parents to the local diner. The tiny hole in the wall was chock-a-block, mostly with people their age (late 60s) all of whom seemed very chummy, but before I write more on that, I need to go back to last night.

William and his Dad were in the basement workshop, doing goodness knows what, while I was in the living room with Edith, looking at pictures of a trip she and her friend took to the UK about a dozen years ago. It’s interesting how when you first meet someone, they feel compelled to share their experiences and opinions of the week they spent in the place you come from! I feigned interest, but halfway through the second photo album, I was bored and hoped the end of the blurry pics with the cloudy skies was nigh!

“Your ring is beautiful,” Edith said, motioning to my left hand. “Is it a family ring?”

“No, but it’s very old,” I said, splaying my fingers.

“Did you buy it in England?”

“Yes, but ehm, it was a gift.” I thought it’d be crass to say, “William paid for it,” so I told her he bought it for me. She looked shocked. “William went to England?”

“No, no, William said he wanted to buy me a ring but, according to him, there were no decent jewelers in Antigua so he suggested I buy it when I got home.” A little nervous laugh escaped me and I knew I should shut up, but of course I continued. “He said I should have exactly what I want, considering how long I’ll be wearing it.” Slowly but purposefully, she closed the photo album, placed it on the table and stared at me. “You two are engaged?”

“I don’t know if I’d say engaged as such,” I stuttered.

I watched her swallow before she spoke. “In my day,” she stated, “when a boy gave a girl a ring to wear on that finger, it meant something special.” She didn’t take her eyes off me. “It isspecial,” I said, rubbing my thumb over the blue stone.

She stood up and I thought she was angry but she turned and smiled. “We have to celebrate,” she said, making her way to the door to the basement. She opened the door and yelled; “Time’s up you two! Grab a few bottles of wine from the cellar! Hurry up! We have something to celebrate!”

So, today at breakfast, I was introduced as, “William’s fiancée from Scotland,” which prompted a slew of questions about whether I know the McDougal’s, the McNabb’s or even the McTavish family who live in the small village next to the famous one where they make the wool, you know the one, with the wishing well in the centre of town, the place Joanie/Bob/Hank’s ancestors come from! I did my best to answer in as polite a manner as possible, but the one question I couldn’t answer was; “When are you guys getting married”?

 

 

November 1st, 1991

November 1st, 1991

At William’s family home, New Hampshire, USA

Up until yesterday, the only knowledge I had of New Hampshire, was related to Robert Frost, whose poetry I was introduced to by Christopher. As tiny as Christopher’s New York apartment is, there are books spilling all over the place and one night while I was poring over them, he pulled one out and began to read. I don’t recall the name of the poem but I remember it being about loneliness in the night and even though I was thoroughly enjoying the evening, the words left me feeling melancholy. Christopher later gave me a book of Robert Frost’s poetry and inside he scribbled a little note saying he chose the book because it contained the poem I’d evidently been moved by but also for the fact Robert Frost’s Mother was from Scotland.

But oh, how I digress! I’m here with William! We’re visiting his parents, staying in not quite what I’d call a farmhouse but the sort of rambling home you’d imagine finding in a small American town, surrounded by vast tracts of open land and snow-topped mountains in the distance. Needless to say, it’s very picturesque, especially with the expanse of red and gold foliage his Mum painstakingly felt the need to talk about pretty much all morning! William’s Dad is the more humourous of the two and told a few lame jokes but I got the impression he was attempting to put me at ease, which I appreciate.

William picked me up at Logan airport yesterday and I expected we’d be going to Cape Cod but he surprised me by asking if I wanted to “head North.” What he failed to tell me, was that we were coming to visit, or in my case, “meet for the first time,” his parents! He didn’t spill the beans until we were ten minutes away, sending me into a panic because really, isn’t meeting the parents something most people would consider a big deal?

Our arrival was like something out of a film, with barking dog (gorgeous Black lab called Mandy) running back and forth, and William’s Dad coming out of the shed, clad in an oversized flannel shirt, his arms laden with jars of what I later discovered to be jam (called jelly here!)  and maple syrup he made.

Edith was in the kitchen and my first thought was how much older she looks than Mum. She was welcoming, but not to the extent Mum would be, then again, I have to keep in mind she’s meeting her son’s girlfriend for the first time, so she might be holding back.

Girlfriend? Did I just write that? Yes, I do believe I did! Mum was the one that suggested I “give William another wee chance,” so I took her advice and here I am! So far, so good, aside from showing up with not even a bunch of flowers or a bottle of wine (which, incidentally, his Father also makes).

I think I’ll be fine here!

 

October 16th, 1991

October 16th, 1991

35,000 feet, somewhere over America

I’m supposed to be on a flight to Toronto but halfway down the M25, my little red car started making sputtering noises, followed by spurts of loss in power that forced me to drive in the slow lane, resulting in me missing the briefing.

 

Shelia in crewing, more commonly known as “the most evil of them all,” gave me a right rollicking and said I’d have to “Take the matter up,” with my fleet manager, who, at that very moment, appeared!

“Nice to see you, Karen,” Brianna smiled. “Where are you off to?”

I began to explain my plight, but Shelia interrupted me. “I told her she’d have to see you.”

Brianna looked confused. “Why?”

“Because shewas late.”

“Car troubles can’t be helped,” Brianna shrugged. “I wouldn’t worry too much. I’m sure you have another trip for Karen.”

Shelia drummed her fingers, feigning a sudden bout of hearing loss.

“Shelia?”

“What?”

“Is there another trip you can stick Karen on? I’m sure she doesn’t want to hang around here on standby all day.”

“As it happens, I do have something.” I could tell from Shelia’s gleeful tone I was headed somewhere awful. She made sure I was looking at her when she sneered, “Lagos.”

“Lovely,” I lied, my heart sinking. “Thank you, Shelia.” For absolutely nothing!

Stretching her lithe frame over the counter, Brianna pointed to the screen.

“Would you look at that, Shelia,” she said, straightening up. “I’ve been guilty of making the same mistake.”

“Mistake?” Shelia hissed. “What are you on about?”

“L o s and l a x. It’s easy to see why you confused them.”

“But, but-” Shelia stuttered.

“Be sure to let Karen know the details,” Brianna said in an authoritative tone, before turning to leave.

“Bye, Brianna,” I said, not daring to look at Shelia, intently taking out her aggression on the poor, innocent keyboard. “Catch,” she growled, tossing the freshly printed roster in my direction. I grabbed it, gave her my biggest fake smile, turned and uttered, “Los Angeles, here I come!”

 

 

September 24th, 1991

September 24th, 1991

Anchorage, Alaska

It’s the last night of this two week trip that took us to Osaka, Narita and Fukuoka in Japan and of course Anchorage. One of those trips where you spend a lot of time with your crew and somehow fall into a routine of meeting for breakfast/dinner, even after lengthy flights through crazy time zones that often left us feeling dead on our feet.

This afternoon, just as I was pondering the possibility of a nap, Creona rang to ask if I fancied going to the pictures. We saw “Thelma and Louise,” which I enjoyed but Creona, in her thick Irish accent, said was, “absolute shite, except for the pretty boy with the floppy hair,” whose name I don’t recall. As good as it was, I much prefer Geena Davis as Muriel in “The Accidental Tourist.” When I told Creona this, she rolled her eyes.

“Don’t tell me,” she huffed. “William Hurt?”

“Love him,” I gushed.

Creona responded with a litany of profanities that I don’t wish to repeat!

As much as I’ve enjoyed the crew and seeing incredible sights, like the glacier in Portage, I’m very much looking forward to getting home to my own bed.

 

September 8th, 1991

September 8th, 1991

At home, England

Sarah is married! The day started out with a few sprinkles but by the time we were ready for pictures in her mum and dad’s garden, the sun was out in full force.

“Look at you lot,” Sarah’s dad said, discretely wiping a tear, as the photographer barked, “No squinting!”
“Bleeding ‘ard not to,” Suzette, the other bridesmaid uttered, while I made a poor attempt at sucking in my stomach.

“You’re not crying, are you, dad?”

“Me? No. Think I’ve something in me eye.”

“Aw, bless,” Sarah and Suzette cooed in unison.

“No talking! Please!”

“He’s a bundle of laughs, where’d you find im, Sarah?”

“And three, and two, and one,” the photographer shouted, above the sound of the shutter, snapping what I imagine will be amusing pictures.

“He’s a mate of-”

“And silence!”

“He better not keep this up all day!” Suzette huffed, making me laugh.
“And we’re quiet! And we’re still!”

“Still annoying,” Suzette hissed, as the photographer waved his hand. “Bridesmaids, step aside! Parents, step in!”

Suzette shook her head and pulled me aside. “We’ve time for some happy juice, before we go to the church,” she winked.

I gave her a questioning look. “Listen,” she whispered. “If we ‘ave to be stuck in these frothy frocks all day, we’ll need a drink. Or three.”

Ah, a girl after my own heart!