December 16th, 1990

December 16th, 1990

Flight from LHR – PHL

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The flight over was made all the more pleasant by Richard’s visits to the rear galley, all of which were met with raised eyebrows from our fellow crew members and no doubt got a few tongues wagging, which I imagine continued when Richard grabbed the seat next to mine on the crew bus.

Speaking out of the side of his mouth, he uttered, “Seems the Captain is insisting we make our way to his so called favourite sports bar.”

“Ugh,” I replied, not looking at him. “Not exactly my cup of tea.”

“We don’t have to follow the crowd.”

“I know but if we don’t make an appearance, I imagine tomorrow’s flight will be rather unpleasant for you.”

“Yes, I do believe so.”

“Ok, in that case, let’s just go.”

He turned to me and mouthed, “Thank you.”

Richard perched his slim frame on the stool next to me and as is typical in such a setting, we each carried on several conversations with other members of our crew but as the time wore on everyone split into groups, leaving just the two of us.

“There’s something I’d like to ask you,” he said.

“What’s that?”

“No pressure to answer if you don’t feel comfortable.”

I motioned for him to continue.

“What happened with your chap in LA?”

“He told me he’s gay.”

Richard’s head dropped in an expression of disbelief. “You’re serious?”

“Deadly.”

“Good gracious! What happened?”

“He came to the room to pick me up, or so I thought and instead he broke down and told me he met someone else.”

“Gosh, I really wasn’t expecting that.”

“Nor was I.”

He stared at me and reached his hand over to cover mine. “I’m so sorry. That must have been a dreadful-”

We were interrupted by Fiona, who, by the look of it, had clearly imbibed a tad more than us.

Standing behind Richard, she pressed her ample bosom into his back then draped her arms over his shoulders, dangling them over his chest. He shot me a look that screamed, “Help!” as she swayed and whispered something in his ear. His eyes darted in my direction again and I was both amused and thrilled by his obvious lack of interest in her.

“Actually,” he stated in his pilot PA voice, peeling Fiona’s arms off him as he turned. “Karen and I are about to go for a brisk walk.” He threw a pleading look my way.

“Yes, yes, we are,” I said, standing up. “Needless to say, Fiona, you’re welcome to join us. As long as we bundle up, we shouldn’t freeze too much.”

Fiona slurred something in her plummy accent about, “Ree main ing he are,” then slithered her way over to join a group of what looked like college age guys, sitting around a table.

“How do you feel about country and western music?” Richard asked once we were outside.

“I have mixed feelings, why?”

“There’s a super little place not far from here, they usually have a band and I thought perhaps we could have a bit of a boogie.”

I cracked up laughing. “Richard, you do know it’s nineteen ninety, don’t you?”

The bar reminded me of the place I went to in Florida with Gabriel last year but this time I didn’t mistake my drink for a soft one and down it in one. The band consisted of a dark-haired singer with a smoky voice and sultry look, accompanied by two pale men in Stetson’s.

We danced several times but when the music kicked up it seemed we were the only two people who hadn’t mastered line dancing, so we gave up and continued talking and drinking.

We walked hand in hand back to the hotel in the bitter cold and had our first kiss in the lift. The kiss was tender but purposeful and with my eyes shut, I wanted more but when I opened them, I longed to see David’s face, which is why I didn’t invite Richard to my room for a night cap.

 

 

December 4th, 1990

December 4th, 1990

Night flight from JFK – LGW

 

Forced myself out of bed to meet Sally and Rowena for breakfast.

“Ohhhh,” whistled Rowena, shaking her head. “I feel a story coming on.”

“Do I look that bad?” I asked.

“It’s not so much the look as the smell. Tequila?”

“Shit! Do I reek of tequila?”

“Nah,” she giggled. “I just had a sneaking suspicion.”

“Who is he?” Sally asked. “And is he the reason you were so excited on the crew bus?”

“Oh no,” I uttered. “He’s just a friend.”

“You don’t get that drunk with a friend,” Rowena said.

“I did with this one.”

“Stop keeping us in suspense, who is he?”

“We met last year, while I was here on a trip with my friend Frankie. He’s absolutely lovely, what I’d call a proper gentleman as well as a cool New Yorker.”

“And?”

“And he’s about to propose to his girlfriend.”

“Nooooo,” they sang, in unison.

“It’s a good thing,” I said. “She sounds great.”

Rowena smirked. “You don’t sound very convincing.”

“I agree,” Sally said. “I think you secretly hate her.”

“I don’t even know her!”

“But you’re connected to her,” Rowena said.

I gave her a questioning look.

“Since you’ve both slept with him,” she continued. “Shared experience and all that.”

“Whoa, wait, no, no, no! I never slept with him!”

“As in you didn’t sleep with him last night or never, ever?”

“Never ever.”

“Why not?”

“Well, we had a bit of a snog the first night we met but after that nothing happened because neither of us wanted it to.”

They both rolled their eyes. “If you hadn’t told us he’s getting engaged I’d say he was gay,” Rowena chirped, as Sally nodded in acknowledgement. “I agree,” she said. “Men and women can only be friends if one of them is gay.”

“What a ridiculous attitude,” I said, thoughts of David swirling around my head.

Rowena held her hand up. “I’ve heard enough,” she sighed, feigning boredom. “I was hoping for something a little juicier.”

“Me too,” Sarah groaned.

“You’ll have to find it elsewhere,” I said, resisting the urge to tell them what happened with David, if for no other reason than the opportunity to talk about him.

 

December 3rd, 1990

December 3rd, 1990

Flight from MAN – JFK

Lexington Hotel, New York City

Air traffic and weather problems combined to make landing at JFK difficult so we made a stop first in Boston, where we refueled, before trying again, this time successfully.

The sight of the skyline as the crew bus drew closer to Manhattan filled me with the usual excitement and unlike Rowena and Sally who were shattered from a late night in Chester, I felt energized and raring to go.

Not relishing the thought of another night, where I couldn’t talk to David, I rang Christopher, who sounded more than keen to meet up. I arranged to meet him in the lobby, where, even in the huge crowd, he stood out and I couldn’t help but notice the extra glances he garnered as we made our way outside.

“You got it going on, boy,” I drawled, stepping into the revolving door.

“Right back atcha, girl,” he grinned. His slow mock drawl putting mine to shame.

 

Outside, in the bitter cold, he offered his arm and when the wind smacked us as we rounded the corner, he motioned to the Irish bar we happened to be walking by. I nodded yes and we dashed inside.

“Brrrrrrrr,” I said, my teeth chattering. “It’s brutal out there.”

“But toasty in here,” he laughed. “What do you want to drink?”

“How about a sparkling water, with lime, please.”

“You’re kidding, right?”

“Nope.”

“Why aren’t you drinking?”
“I’ve had my fill of booze for the year. Maybe next as well!”

“I don’t know you,” he said, making me laugh.

With our coats off and drinks ordered, I asked how life was treating him.

“I’m planning on proposing to Laurie,” he smiled. “I’ve already asked for her Father’s permission.”
“Wow, that’s fantastic news!” I exclaimed, sliding off the bar stool to hug him. “I’m so happy for you.”

“Thanks. I hope she accepts.”

“She’d be stark raving mad not to!”

His smile was wide. “You have the best expressions.”

“Tell me about the ring.”

“What is there to tell?”

“Honestly,” I said, rolling my eyes. “You men are hopeless. Tell me where you got it. What it looks like. How you felt choosing it. How you knew which one to pick. Tell me how you plan to propose. And are you nervous about doing so? Is that enough, or do you need me to be more specific?”

He cracked up laughing. “I guess that’s good for now.”

Just so I don’t forget, here are his answers;

The ring came from Tiffany’s (of course!)

Princess cut, set in Platinum, which he knows is Laurie’s favourite because whenever she comes across such in any of the many bridal magazines she subscribes to, she lets out a little sigh (how lucky is that girl?)

He felt nervous purchasing the ring, “I want her to love it.”

All he would say about the proposal is that it would take place over, “the holidays.”

“It’s not that I don’t want to tell you, I just don’t want to jinx it. Does that make sense?”

“Yes, that makes perfect sense.”

“Ok,” he said. “Your turn.”

“Let’s see… my favourite is an emerald cut, set in platinum, with-”

The look of bewilderment on his lovely face threw me into a fit of laughter. “I’m just kidding, I assume you’re looking for an update on my love life?”

“You had me there,” he chuckled. “And yeah, fill me in but let me get another beer and are you sure you don’t want as you would say, ‘a proper drink?’”

“No thanks. This water is incredible. I had no idea how great water is! Especially when you add a slice of lime. Really kicks it up a few notches.”

“You are cracking me up.”

“If I have one more sip,” I continued. “I’ll throw up! Let’s get some shots.”

He gave me a look that I can only describe as adorably quizzical. “For real?”

“For real,” I declared. “We need to celebrate your upcoming engagement.”

“I’m all for that, what do you want?”

My boyfriend back.

“Tequila.”

“Ohhhhh,” he smiled. “Is that where this is going? Last time we drank tequila together, you and Frankie almost missed your flight home.”

“Exactly! So, get the good stuff please. I need something smooth that’ll go down easier.”

“You got it,” he grinned.

 

We downed a couple of shots of tequila, then Christopher asked how things were going with David. I got a little choked telling him, but managed to share most of what happened. He kept shaking his head in a gesture of disbelief. “Are you sure he’s gay?”

“He dumped me for a guy!” The shots were clearly taking effect.

“But you two were, together, together, right?”
“Yes. I did sleep with him on more than one occasion. That’s the first question everybody seems to ask.”

“I’m sorry, I just don’t get it. This is crazy. Do you think he might be…experimenting?”

“I don’t think so. Shit,” I nodded, my voice cracking. “It’s so confusing.”

“Oh, sweetie,” he said, sliding off the bar stool. “Come here.”

He circled his arms around me and pulled me into a tight squeeze that felt sooo good. The tequila was telling me to kiss him but I knew that was a bad idea. We held onto each other longer than we probably should have and when we drew apart, he cleared his throat and placed his hands on my shoulders.

“It’s gonna be fine,” he said, reassuringly. “I’m always here if you need me.”

“Thank you, I appreciate that.”

“What is it your friend Stephen always says?” he asked, sitting on the stool.

“Love is a bitch?”

“That’s the one,” he nodded. “Let’s get some more shots and talk about that bitch we call love.”

 

December 2nd, 1990

December 2nd, 1990

Chester, England

Slept for twelve hours straight!

Ridiculous waste of a day, where all I did was take a short walk and devour lots of overpriced, crap food from room service.

Hotel life can sometimes be the loneliest of all.

 

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 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 18th, 1990

November 18th, 1990

At home, England

The phone woke me up and I picked up expecting it to be David, in full-on grovel mode.

“Hey you.”

“Hi Ben,” I breathed, immediately reprimanding myself.

“How’s tricks?”

“Good,” I fibbed. “How about you?”

“Can’t complain. What’re you up to?”

“About five seven.”

He let out a hearty laugh. “Oh, aren’t you a funny one. When are you flying again?”

“Not for a few more days.”

Regardless of whether my so-called boyfriend actually bothers to contact me or not!

“Me too.” I felt his smile through the phone. “Wanna meet up?”

“When? Where?”

Not that it matters because I’m not meeting you!

“My train gets in just before six.”

Don’t even…

“Cool, why don’t I meet you at eight after you see your mum and dad?”

“Actually, would you mind picking me up?”

“At the train station?”

“Yup.”

“Sure, see you there.”

All afternoon I toyed with the idea of ringing him back to say something had come up and I couldn’t make it but, fueled by David’s blatant lack of contact, I chose to go.

When I saw Ben step off the train, I remained as stoic as possible but truth be known, my stomach was deceiving me with that butterflies flying free feeling.

“Hey you,” he grinned.

“Hey yourself.”

“You look well,” he said, kissing my cheek.

“As do you,” I said, enjoying a quick whiff of my all-time favourite cologne.  “Flying clearly agrees with you.”

“Agrees with us,” he smiled. That dangerous little word. “Fancy a drink at The Point?”

“Yeah, why not,” I countered, still heady from his scent.

We sat in our old favourite spot at the bar and Ben ordered a rather expensive bottle of red. “How many times do you figure we’ve been here?”

I shrugged my shoulders, distracted by the movement of his hands.

“I’d estimate hundreds,” he continued. “Not to mention all the films we’ve seen here. Do you remember when this place first opened?”

“Of course,” I laughed. “We’re only talking about five years ago.”

“Which was what? About two years into our relationship?”

Our and relationship in the same sentence did something to my breathing.

“That sounds about right.”

We laughed and reminisced about all sorts and when the bottle was empty (Ben drank most of it) I asked if he was ready to go.

“Where to?” His tone was beyond suggestive so, in an attempt at feigning innocence, I said, “Don’t you want me to drop you off at your mum and dad’s?”

He looked at me with an all too familiar expression that made my stomach react in an all too familiar way. “Can I come and see your new pad first?”

Don’t. Even. Think. About. It.

“Sure,” I smiled.

 

November 13th, 1990

November 13th, 1990

Flight from CAI – LGW

At home, England
Finally got to chat to Pamsy tonight.

“Hello stranger!”

“Karen! It’s so nice to hear from you.”

“It’s been yonks, hasn’t it, how are you?”

“I’ve been so busy, you know how it is.”

“I do, I just got back from Cairo this morning after being called out. I tried to sleep but-”

“Ugh, I hate that feeling, when you toss and turn.”

“Hostie problems,” I laughed.

“Yeah, I know, listen to us, we sound like two old birds. Tell me everything!”

“Like?”

“Start with your love life.”

“Let’s see, ehm, I’m going to LA next week on a request trip.”

“Ooooh, for Thanksgiving?”

“Yes!”

“Oh wow,” she shrieked. “You’re going to meet the family!”

“Seems I am.”

“This is major. Actually, no, more like epic!”

“I have to admit, I’m a bit concerned about meeting them.”

“You have nothing to worry about, they’ll love you. Play up on your Britishness and talk about tea and the queen and stuff like that. Before you know it, you’ll have them eating out of your hand.”

I laughed. “Good advice, thank you.”

“And wear something demure, not that you wouldn’t but-”

“I already have the outfit sorted.”
“Good. The last thing you want is his mum thinking you’re a bit of strumpet.”

I laughed. “That would not be good!”

“How long have you been seeing him now?”

“We met last July, so it’s-”

“Long enough to know how you feel about him. And?”

“And what?”

“How do you feel about him?”

“I love him, you know that. He’s amazing.”

“Oh wow, I think it’s time I bought a hat!”

I laughed. “I don’t think we’re at that point.”

“Hurry up! What’s the hold up?  I want to come and visit you in LA!”

“Oooh, now there’s an incentive!”

“I see a ring on your finger by Christmas.”

“Ok, now you’re making me nervous.”

“It’s just marriage,” she chuckled. “It’s only for the rest of your life, nothing to worry about.”

I couldn’t help but laugh. “Aw, I’ve really missed you. It’s so nice to hear your voice again.”

“Yours too darling,” she said, her tone so sweet and familiar.

“Your turn,” I said.

She chuckled. “How much time do you have?”

 

November 12th, 1990

November 12th, 1990

Cairo, Egypt

I wasn’t surprised to find only Carmel and Joe in the lobby this morning.

“Great turnout!” Carmel joked.

“It’s your fault for having such a raucous room party,” Joe groaned. “My head is throbbing.”

“Mine too,” I croaked. “I haven’t had that much fun at a room party in ages. You’re a bad influence, Carmel!”

“Years of fine tuning,” she chuckled.

We made our way through the balmy air, to the market, overflowing with people and a combination of pleasant and pungent odours, wafting from the makeshift stalls. The conversation flowed and turned to our personal lives, at which point Carmel asked if I had a boyfriend.

I nodded. “He lives in LA.”

“Ouch,” she said. “How difficult is that?”

“Very! I’m going for Thanksgiving though, so-”

“Ooooh, sounds serious,” Joe chimed. “I hope you have something dazzling to wear.”

“Funny you should mention that,” I said, going on to tell them about the dress I planned on wearing. The one I (read as; Lorna!)  hadn’t yet managed to find shoes to go with.

“Sounds like something you’d wear with a strappy sandal,” Joe suggested.

“What about a kitten heel?” I said, thinking of Lorna.

Shaking his head, with a look of mock horror, Joe shrieked, “Nooooooo!”

“What about a classic flat?” Carmel suggested. “Or maybe that’s my age talking.”
Joe said, “Do you mind if I ask your age?”

I was glad he did as I was also interested in knowing. Carmel is very youthful but I knew with two teenage daughters she must be well beyond my age bracket.

“I’m thirty-six,” she smiled. “Ancient.”

“You don’t look it,” Joe gushed. “Maybe those room parties aren’t so bad after all!”

We continued shopping and Joe found a pair of sandals he insisted were, “A must have, but only with jeans, not the blue dress.” The sandals are a little bejeweled for my taste so I expect mum will be nabbing them!

We continued meandering through the market and Joe shared with us that this is his first trip back after six-months of unpaid leave.

“Nice sabbatical,” Carmel commented. “Did you do anything special?”

Joe got a little quiet and for a second he looked like he was about to cry. “No,” he uttered. “I lost my partner of seven years, to AIDS.”

Carmel let out a sound that described exactly how I felt and there was an awkward pause that I certainly didn’t feel comfortable filling.

“It’s rampant,” Carmel said. “I can’t begin to tell you how many friends I’ve lost. I’m so sorry.”

“Me too,” Joe sniffed, his voice cracking. “Such a cruel way to go.”

“I’m so sorry,” I uttered, thinking of Florence and her younger brother’s recent diagnosis.