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!

 

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!

 

September 1st, 1991

September 1st, 1991

At home, England

It’s hard to believe that this time next week, Sarah will be married and the pastel, puke inspired dress, she’s insisting I wear will be rolled into a ball and stuffed in the back of my wardrobe.

She caught me off guard when she asked who I’m bringing to the wedding, something I hadn’t given any thought to.

“You can bring anyone you want,” she said. “Just not Ben!”

“Like I’d invite him!” I said, much too defensively.

“You should invite Jon.”

“Nah.”

“Why not? He’s really nice to you and-”

“He is…was, but he’s heavily involved with someone.”

“I bet he’d come if you asked him.”

“I just told you he has a girlfriend!”
“I still think you should invite him.”

“No, absolutely not. I guess I’ll be coming alone.”

“Well in that case I’ll get my husband to be on it and he can fix you up with one of his friends.”

“Ehm, thanks, but no thanks,” I stuttered remembering several occasions where Sarah thought it’d be a good idea for me to meet “someone they already know.”

“You say that now,” she smiled, “but you know after you see me getting married you’ll feel all romantic and want to snog somebody. That’s what happens at weddings!”

All I could do was roll my eyes as she continued. “Where is it you’re going tomorrow?”

“Delhi.”

“And when are you coming back?”

“Friday morning.”

“That’s cutting it a bit close, don’t you think? What if you get delayed or something?”

“I won’t,” I said, inwardly chuckling at the thought of not having to wear “the dress,” but knowing she’ll kill me if I miss her wedding.

 

 

August 27th, 1991

August 27th, 1991

Pacific Shore Hotel, Santa Monica

With the eight-hour time change, I was wide awake before five am and stuck a note under Josephine’s door, asking her to ring me when she woke up. No sooner was I back in my room when the phone rang.

“How’s this for a speedy response,” she chirped, making me laugh.

“Impressive. Oh, and morning.”

“It’s still dark out.”

“Which means we still have time to watch the sunrise.”

We met in the lobby shortly after and with only a spattering of cars on the road, we shuffled across the street, down towards the beach.

“Should we sit, at least until the sun comes up? Might be a bit dodgy otherwise.”

“Good idea,” I said, my mind thinking back to the amount of times David and I watched the sun come up while we canoodled on the couch on his rooftop deck

“Penny for your thoughts?”

“Ah,” I sighed. “Lost love and all that.”

“Oooh, I love a good love story, do tell.”

“This one doesn’t have a happy ending.”

“When do they ever? What was his name?”

“David,” I uttered, as she motioned for me to continue.

“I met him on a flight. I was working in Club, he was a passenger. A gorgeous one at that. We chatted and I really liked him, so I left my contact info in his jacket pocket.”

“You did not?”

I nodded. “A few days later, on the same trip, I bumped into him in the market in Delhi.”

Josephine’s mouth fell open. “Then what happened?”

“We spent the day sightseeing, then I had to leave but we stayed in touch.”

“That’s amazing. Where does he live?”

“About thirty minutes from here.”

“No way,” she shrieked. “That’s mental! Will you be seeing him?”

I opened my mouth to speak but it was easier just to shake my head.

“Not this time, or not ever?”

“Never,” I uttered.

“It ended that badly, huh?”

I nodded again.

“Sounds really sad. Can I ask what happened or is that too much?”

I dug my toes deeper into the sand. “He’s gay.”

Josephine’s hand shot to her mouth.

“Yeah,” I nodded. “It was a shock for me as well.”

She swore. More than once. “You were obviously in love with him?”

“Very much so,” I croaked.

She swore again. “Sorry, I’m just really shocked. Are you ok?”

“I think so, yes. I used to absolutely love coming here and I thought it would never feel the same, but here we are, sitting on the beach and, oh look.”

Josephine threw her arm around my shoulders. “Here comes the sun.”

 

August 25th, 1991

August 25th, 1991

Somewhere over America

Oh, the irony! Got called out on standby for a four day Los Angeles, which, this time last year would’ve sent me straight to cloud nine. But now, I’m not really sure how I feel about returning. The last time I was there was with mum, back in April, when I surprised myself by ringing David. He, in turn, shocked me by suggesting lunch and came to the hotel to pick us up. That afternoon, talking freely with him, definitely gave me a sense of closure but knowing we’re only a few hours away from landing where he lives, has me feeling a little out of sorts.

Crew seem nice and for several of them, it’ll be their first time in the city of angels, so I might end up playing tour guide, so who knows where that may take us!

 

August 19th, 1991

August 19th, 1991

At home, England

One of the best things about having my own place is the luxury of spending as much time as I want on the phone without anyone (mum, for example) hovering, pretending to “dust this wee table,” just as the conversation’s about to move into juicy territory. So, with that said, I spent most of this rainy day on the phone;

“I’m sorry, who?” Sebastian teased.

“Very funny, you know what trolley dolly life’s like.”

“Oh, don’t I just,” he hollered. “My feet are still killing me, having just walked from L A to London. How’s the sparkler?”

The mention of LA made my mind wander. “How’s the what?”

“Your ring! Do you still get chatted up?”

“Actually, I’m not wearing it.”

“Oh my bridal gowns! That must be the fastest engagement ever!”

“Well…firstly, we didn’t actually get engaged and secondly-”

“You shagged Ben then felt guilty?”

“Something like that.”

“Ah, don’t worry, just blame it on a severe bout of jetlag and get the ring back on!”

 

Carl was next.

“I heard a rumour you’re no longer engaged.”

“Who told you that?”

“Somebody.”

“Somebody who?”

“Somebody we trained with. Maybe.”

“Her name wouldn’t happen to start with L by any chance now, would it?”

He chuckled. “Might do.”

“Argh, Lorna. I told her that in confidence and just so you know, William and I didn’t actually get engaged, we-”

“Wait, let me get this straight, when a bloke buys a girl a ring it’s not an engagement?”

“There’s much more to it than that,” I huffed.

“Good to know. So, I take it Ben managed to inch his way back in?”

“Did you seriously just say that?”

Carl cracked up laughing.

“And no, Ben is notback in the picture.”

“Let me guess, he came round, smelled great, there was wine, there was music, it got late and-”

“Wow Carl, sounds like you were there.”

“Basic moves darling, basic moves.”

 

August 17th, 1991

August 17th, 1991

At home, England

It’s not often we get two nights in New York so I made the most of it by doing some sightseeing (Empire State with Deidre, who’d never been) window shopping at Saks and Bloomingdales, eating and lots of walking, but the best part was seeing Christopher.

He met me at the Lex (crew hotel) the first night, then we headed out into the crowd. For some reason, we always seem to land in some dodgy bar, which, considering his breeding I find amusing. We talked nonstop about life and love, the usual. He and Laurie are getting married next year and he said he wishes they could “just head down to the islands somewhere and make it official.” Christopher isn’t one for crowds, another aspect of him I find interesting, considering where he lives!

“What’s happening with you?” he said, peering over a hearty pint of Guinness.

“Where to begin?” I laughed.

“David?”

“Done and dusted.”

“Ben?”

“Ongoing. Not in a good way.”

“Uh-oh,” he uttered, licking froth from his top lip. “You still got it bad for him, huh?”

“I’m trying hard to shake him off.”

He raised an eyebrow. “By sleeping with him?”

“I know, I know,” I said, throwing my hands up. “What can I say? I get lonely!”

“Understood. And William?”

“You might need another pint for that.”

“That crazy, huh?”

“It’s not so much him, it’s just, I…I don’t see myself living where he’s stationed.”

“Massachusetts?”

I nodded. “You know I went, right? Did you get my postcard?”
“I did, yeah. Mass is awesome, I think you’d be good there-”

“I’d be better here.”

He shook his head. “The city isn’t great for raising kids.”

“Who said anything about kids?”

“You know what I mean.”

“Anyway, it feels like a barrier. A huge one.”

“When are you seeing him again?”

“Probably not for a while. I’m going to Spain with my mum, then I’m a bridesmaid at my friend Sarah’s wedding.”

He lowered his voice. “Ugly dress?”

“The worst.”

We cracked up laughing.

“How many bridesmaids is Laurie having?”

Christopher took a long draw of his pint before placing it on the table. “Ten.”

“Seriously?”

“Yup, which means I gotta come up with ten guys to kinda even it all out.”

“Phew, that’s a lot.”

“Sure is. I only got a few close buddies and you’re one of ‘em. How do you look in a suit?” “Probably better than I do in a frumpy frock.”

He laughed. “More wine? Or..” He tilted his head and grinned. “You ready for some tequila?”

“Ahhhh,” I smirked. “You know me so well.”