July 18th, 1991

July 18th, 1991

Night flight from DTW – LHR

I’ve heard it said how important it is to know what you want but that it’s more important to know what you don’t and I can say, without a doubt, that I don’t want to live in America. In the big scheme of things, I probably shouldn’t proclaim such after only a short stay in Massachusetts and less than twenty-four hours in Detroit, but that’s really how I feel right now.

I debated over ringing William but after too much wine with my crew, I caved in and found myself dialing the number that (for whatever reason) I can’t seem to commit to memory. After a few minutes, I blurted, “I can’t see myself living there!” which I expected to throw him for a loop but all he said was, “We can figure it out.”

What I failed to tell him is that I spent the most incredible weekend with Ben but I did tell him the ring he (William, not Ben!) bought me is back in its box, stuffed in my dresser drawer. He actually laughed, which I found quite confusing. After that, we talked easily about all sorts then all of a sudden, he said he needed to go to bed.

“Oh, ehm, ok,” I stuttered.

“I love you,” he said, leaving me feeling more confused than ever.

 

July 15th 1991

July 15th, 1991

At home, England

Since Ben left this afternoon, I’ve been replaying the weekend in my mind:

“Thanks for everything,” he said, tossing the last of his things into his bag. “I really don’t want to leave.”

“I don’t want you to, either but I believe Hong Kong is calling.”

“This time tomorrow,” he sighed, “I’ll be in Honkers and you’ll be halfway to Detroit.”

“Don’t remind me,” I laughed, as he moved towards me. Cupping my face in his hands he said, “Thank you for making my twenty-fifth birthday so spectacular. I loved every second with you.”

“No problem,” I croaked. “I’m glad you enjoyed it.”

“Did you?”

“I think you know the answer to that,” I said, pulling away, if only to stop the tears in their tracks.

I need to ring Pamsy. Hopefully she’ll forgive me for being a day late.

 

July 12th, 1991

July 12th, 1991

Flight from BOS – LHR, as a passenger

Heading home after spending ten days with William, which meant I was in America over “the fourth,” as they refer to Independence Day. Having never celebrated such, I was more than keen to go all out and do whatever it is they do but William had a migraine and said he didn’t feel like “fighting the traffic.”

The flat William rented is quite lovely. There’s a little balcony off the living room that overlooks the harbour, the whimsical view of which inspired me to write a couple of short stories about the sea and such. On the days William was at work, I strolled down to the pier and watched the fishing boats pull up, surprised by the amount of work it took to offload the huge containers.

There’s a twice daily boat cruise that sails through the Cape Cod Canal, which, according to the little pamphlet, was built in 1914 (first I’d heard of it!) I spoke to several people on the pier who said the trip was worth doing but I never got around to it.

The town itself is quaint, with nothing more than a pizza joint, a “convenience store,” (more like inconvenience as they had nothing I was looking for!) and a post office. Oh, there’s also a wooden shack type of place that sells fried seafood but apparently, it’s only open during “the season,” which William said is between, “Memorial Day and Labor Day.” Seriously, it’s like another language! Memorial Day is in May, which is when the tourists start showing up and Labor Day, “when they leave,” is, I think he said the first week of September. I’m not sure what happens after “the tourists” leave, it didn’t exactly seem busy to me but William insisted the place was “overrun with New Yorkers this time of year.”

As picturesque as it is, I shan’t be returning.

 

June 20th, 1991

June 20th, 1991

Omni Hotel, San Francisco

With the eight-hour time difference, being on the West Coast typically consists of very early mornings and not so late nights but by the time I got to bed I’d been up for 29 hours so I guess that theory’s out the window!

Consequently, I was surprised to see most of the crew in the lobby this morning, the more senior members looking somewhat bleary eyed. The first class purser, a take charge sort, had taken it upon himself to book the ferry tickets (for 19!) to Sausalito. Bloody Mary’s were the order of the day on the hour-long ferry ride and I was the only one who didn’t partake (only because I don’t like tomato juice!)

I love the different characters of crew and the various tidbits you pick up about a place from other crew experiences. Rowena led us to her favourite boutique where I passed over way too much money for a white cotton jumper I’ll probably never wear. Anton is seriously into art and took us to his favourite gallery, an art deco style building, filled with papier mache statues that cost a small fortune. “It’s only bloody paper,” Jade chirped in her cockney accent, making us laugh. From there we made our way to the restaurant on the hill, suggested by Anna, and drank Californian wine recommended by Jason.

Malcolm began telling us about Sausalito’s involvement in World War II, during which 20,000 people on each of three shifts, built a liberty vessel every 13 days! Between 1942 and 1945, a total of 93 ships were built, all in that quaint little place we spent the most enjoyable day.

Ah, the stuff we learn (and the things we buy!)

 

May 28th, 1991

May 28th, 1991

Night flight from PIT – IAD – LHR

Feeling the effect of four transatlantic sectors in five days, which, with the stop in Washington, makes tonight feel like it’ll never end. Fortunately, our purser allocated each of us an hour of crew rest, giving me just enough time to dunk biscuits in tea and recall some of last night’s onslaught of questions in the hotel bar (we were all too knackered to venture out.)

“Oh, what a beautiful ring, I didn’t even notice it on the flight, what stone is that?”

“Oh, your fiancé is American?”

“Where did you meet him?”

“How long have you known him?”

“What does he do?”

“Where does he live?”

“When are you getting married?”

“Where are you getting married?”

“Where are you going to live after you get married?”

“So, you’ll be giving up flying?”
“How long have you been flying?”

“If you move to the States, do you think you’ll like it?”

“Do you really see yourself living there?”

“Won’t you miss your family and friends?”

 

I’m astounded that the presence of a ring can generate so many questions!

 

May 7th, 1991

May 7th, 1991

VC Bird Airport, Antigua

When I arrived on the island I had no idea how things would play out with William but three weeks later, I’m leaving, with the promise of a life together.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

April 30th, 1991

 

April 30th, 1991

St. Croix, US Virgin Islands

The water is crystal clear and there’s not a cloud in the sky, but all I want is to go home.

Over lunch, I told William how sad I am about how things ended with Millie and how much I’m dreading picking my car up from hers for fear she’ll confront me.

“Just get over it!” he stated, continuing to tuck into a heap of conch fritters.

Attempting to sound as calm as possible, which given how annoyed I felt, wasn’t easy, I asked what he meant. Without looking up, he said, “What I said.”

Hoping he’d say something that made sense or at least gave me the impression he got it, I motioned for him to continue but his focus remained on eating so I got up from the table (stormed off would be more accurate!) without saying another word.

I fully expected him to follow me back to the room but that was well over an hour ago and there’s still no sign of him.

 

April 29th, 1991

April 29th, 1991

Scott’s House, Antigua

I was supposed to fly home yesterday but William made it quite clear he wanted me to stay so I went to the airport and rang in sick! Needless to say, the connection was awful, with the time delay a dead giveaway, well that plus the flight announcements! It was pretty obvious from the questions Tom on the crewing desk asked that he knew exactly what I was up to.

“What seems to be the matter?”

I’m following my heart, is what I really wanted to say but I made up some nonsense about a stomach problem.

So, tomorrow, instead of going to Delhi, I’m going to the island of St. Croix with William!

 

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 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!”