February 7th, 1992

February 7th, 1992

Lexington Hotel, New York

Back in my second favourite city (it’ll always be you, LA!) where the wind chill tears rapidly through every layer of clothing, reminding me of the expression; “Chilled to the bone.”

Flight was absolutely horrendous with the most unpleasant bunch of passengers I’ve encountered in a long time. Thankfully, us crew managed to keep each other going, especially during the most trying moments when it seemed every call bell was binging and bonging. The worst passengers are the ones that think it’s acceptable to make a grab for you. Whenever that happens (a lot today!) I have to bite my tongue to stop me from hissing; “If you need a diet coke that badly, then perhaps you should’ve brought your own!”

In spite of the arduous flight, it was worth it for the chance to meet up with Christopher tonight. We met in the hotel bar as planned (he was early, I was late!) and had a quick drink before braving the arctic air and heading around the corner to his beloved Irish bar, which, given his ancestry is Eastern European, I find highly amusing.

We grabbed the last two stools at the bar and Christopher wasted no time ordering while I used my glove to brush what looked to be bread crumbs off the bar.

“Why do you like this place so much?”

“I don’t know,” he said, glancing around. “I just do.”

“It’s a bit run down. Definitely not the sort of joint I associate you with.”

“Or you,” he chuckled. “Would you rather go someplace else?”

“Nah,” I drawled. “I don’t mind slumming it for a few hours, but first I need to go and wash my hands!”

As usual, we fell into an easy conversation and it didn’t take long before the talk turned to my upcoming nuptials.

“Are you nervous?”

I shook my head. “Why would I be nervous?”

“No reason I guess,” he said with a heavy shrug and a long draw of his Guinness.

“You don’t sound very convincing. Is there something you want to say?”

“Yes,” he nodded, licking his lips.

I cocked my head to the side, expecting some pithy revelation. “This pint of Guinness,” he grinned, “Is the best I’ve ever had.”

I smacked his forearm. “Tell me what you were really about to say!”

Slowly twisting the coaster, he said, “I’m kinda surprised you’re not marrying Ben.”

Leaning back on the stool, I gestured for him to continue.

“I always figured you two would end up together.”

Taken aback, I blurted, “You have to be kidding! Ben’s a bloody nightmare!”

“Maybe so, but I know you loved him.”

I waved my hand dismissively. “That was during my insanity phase.”

He gave me questioning look and I tried not to laugh when, in a robot voice, I added;

“I. Was. Crazy. But. I. Am. All. Better. Now.”

Christopher cracked up laughing and for a split second I thought I might tell him I bumped into Ben at the cinema but I knew if I did, the conversation would take a turn, raising questions I don’t have answers to. He put his hand on my shoulder and gently squeezed. “I just wanna make sure you’re doing the right thing, you know?”

I cupped my hand over his. “Thank you. I appreciate your concern.”

He held up his almost empty glass. “Here’s to you and William.”

“And to you and Laurie,” I said, clinking my glass to his.

“Same again or are you ready to kick it up a few notches?”

I laughed. “If you’re thinking tequila, this might not be the best place.”

“True,” he smiled. “But we can get a whole lot more drunk here for a whole lot less!”

 

 

June 20th, 1990

June 20th, 1990

Flight from LGW – JFK

I’ve been up for twenty-six hours and feel I could sleep for a week but wow, it’s great to be back in The Big Apple. Flight was seriously delayed, enough so that we almost went out of hours, which on a trip with a quick flight time is unheard of.

My room is located on one of the executive floors and the view from the bathroom is utterly insane. Ah, how I love this city with the yellow taxis and the tall buildings and the crowds and the noise. Oh, the noise!

With the lengthy delay, I expected a quiet night in but the mere sight of the skyline rejuvenated me. Unfortunately, it didn’t have the same effect on anybody else so there was nobody to go out with. I rang David but couldn’t get a hold of him so I thought I might go for a walk but it was one of those evenings where the air felt balmy and I really fancied watching the world go by, preferably with a cocktail in hand, so I rang Christopher.

He was still at work (I reminded him that it was half eight!) but said he was happy to hear from me and would come straight to the hotel. Twenty minutes later, I met him in the lobby and was, as always, thrilled to see him.

“You look tan.”

“Remnants from Antigua,” I laughed.

“You got paid to go to Antigua?”

“Yup,” I said, stepping into the revolving door.

We found the perfect spot to sit and people watch at a little bar just up the street from the hotel. Christopher ordered his signature drink; “Margarita, rocks, no salt,” and I ordered a pomegranate Martini (which was delish!)

As usual, we fell into an easy conversation about where we’ve been and what we’ve been doing.

“So,” he said, a few sips into our third drink (oops!) “Give me the latest in the BK saga.”

“Ah, let’s see. There’s actually not much to report on the Ben and Karen saga, he moved away, which is probably a good thing.”

“Interesting. And nobody else has showed up and swept you off your feet?”

I made a little disapproving sound and opened my mouth to speak but before I could, Christopher raised his hands in a gesture of surrender.

“I know, I know,” he laughed. “You can stand on your own two feet, I just meant it as a figure of speech.”

“Well in that case,” I laughed. “No, I don’t believe so.”

We started talking about the Antigua trip and for some reason I mentioned William and before I knew it, I was telling Christopher all sorts about my time with William, which is weird, because he really wasn’t my type.

“I seem to prefer blondes,” I said, suddenly changing the subject.

Christopher pulled on a strand of his thick, dark hair. “Guess I’m out,” he chuckled.

 

 

August 22nd, 1989

August 22nd, 1989

At home

I’d only been home for a short time this morning when the post came. Because our letterbox is brass, it makes a loud noise whenever the flap closes. Dad was at work, mum was out and I knew she’d be annoyed if she came home to find the post strewn over the floor, so I took a bite of my toast and went into the hall.

When I spotted the envelope with Ben’s handwriting I picked it, tore it open and found two pages inside, filled with very scribbly looking writing. I sat on the bottom stair and was halfway through reading the first page when I heard a key in the lock. Through the glass I could see it was mum so I quickly folded the letter and tucked it in my work handbag.

I dashed to open the door to mum but she was already inside.

“Hello mum”, I said, kissing her cheek.

“Hullo hen, are you just in?” she asked when she saw I was still in uniform.

“I’ve been home for about half an hour,” I said, picking up the rest of the post.

“I cannae wait to hear all about New York. Is there anything good in that wee pile?”

“Looks like bills,” I said, putting the post on the table.

I couldn’t wait to read the rest of Ben’s letter but mum was anxious to hear the news from her favourite city. She was all ears when I told her I spoke to David.

“He’s got some voice hasn’t he?”

I laughed. “You’re only saying that because he’s American.”

“Aye, well there’s that,” she chuckled. “But as well as that I think his voice is very calming.”

“How long did you speak to him before you told him I was in New York?” I asked.

She smiled. “No too long,” she said. “I could tell he was eager to get a hold of you.”

“Well it was a nice surprise, that’s for sure but I don’t know how he knew which hotel to find me in.”

“I told him.”

“How did you know?”

“When your wee pal Frankie phoned recently, I told her I used to work in New York and we started talking about how fantastic the city is. She mentioned the names of the hotels BA puts you up in.”

“Mum, I don’t even know the names of all of them.”

“Aye, well you should’ve asked Frankie, she’s been flying longer than you.”

“So you gave David the list of hotels?”
“Aye, something like that,” she laughed.

“I wonder how many calls he made before he found me.”

When I finally got to read the rest of Ben’s letter, it left me feeling confused. In it, he talked about “going to work in America” and on the next page he said he’d been thinking about how it would be if we were to “settle down together.” I don’t think he knows what he wants but I’m still really looking forward to seeing him again. Whenever that may be.

August 20th, 1989

August 20th, 1989

Omni Park Central hotel, New York, NY

Spent most of the day with Kimberly, walking around Manhattan and we concluded that the buzz on the street here is intoxicating. There’s so much to see and I imagine that even if you lived here your entire life, you’d never run out of new experiences. Oh how I would love that!

When we came back to the hotel, I literally walked into Joe M from Air Europe days. Joe is hard to miss with his bright ginger hair and Scottish accent, and as fubsy as he looks, he still managed to pick me up and spin me around!

“A cannae believe it,” he boomed.

“It’s nice to see you too,” I laughed. “But you’re making me dizzy, put me down!”

Stopping with the ease of someone half his weight, he asked, “Ye here fur the night?”

I put out my arms to steady myself. “We are.”

I introduced him to Kimberly.

“Well wit’s the plan then?” He asked.

“Actually, we’re meeting a friend of mine later who lives here but I don’t think he’d mind if you came along with us.”

“Friend or friend?” he asked.

“Friend.”

I thought it’d be nice to at least let Christopher know not only that there’d be an extra person at the table, but also what to expect when he met Joe. His phone rang twice before picking up.

“Hi Christo…”

“Hi, you’ve reached Christopher. I’m not here to take your call right now so please leave a message and I’ll get right back to you.”

I left a long-winded message and imagined Christopher smiling as he listened to it.

A few minutes later, I was on the bed, reading, when the phone rang. Fully expecting it to be Christopher, I answered with, “Ola mi amigo.”

“Karen?”

“David!”

“Hi…”

“Sorry,” I said, interrupting him. “I wasn’t expecting it to be you.”

“Did I catch you at a bad time?”

“Oh no, not at all.” The thought of explaining my reaction crossed my mind but I was too eager to hear what David had to say. “This is a lovely surprise. Are you in LA?” I asked, looking at my watch.

“I’m home, yeah. I just called you at home and your mom told me where you were.”

I laughed. “My mum’s good that way, but how did you know which hotel I’d be in?”

We stay at several different hotels in New York and never know which one until we arrive.

I’m good that way,” he said with a chuckle but didn’t elaborate. “So, how’s the big apple?”

“Isn’t it just the most extraordinary place?” I gushed. “Total bees knees.”

“I don’t know.”

“What? You’ve never been to New York?”

“Never.”

“That’s mental, then again it’s the same distance from LA to New York as it is from New York to London. Wow, you need to see it to believe it, though I imagine LA is pretty exciting as well.”

“I don’t know, LA is cool but it’s kinda split into so many different neighbourhoods.”

“Well I can’t imagine any of them are too shabby.”

He laughed. “I guess you’ll have to come out and see for yourself.”

“I guess I will.”

Absolutely. Definitely. Totally. Dude.

 

I was still giddy from speaking to David when I met Kimberly (Matilda!) and Joe in the lobby. Joe came barreling towards me.

“Don’t pick me up!”

“Nay chance of that, I think ye broke ma back earlier.”

I hit his arm. “Cheeky bugger.”

“I thought ye said he was just a friend.”

“Who?” I asked.

“The guy wur going tay meet.”

I looked at Kimberly for clarification but she looked as confused as I felt.

“He is just a friend.”

Joe continued. “No wi an expression like that on your fizzog he isnae.”

The penny suddenly dropped. “Oh, no, no, no. This,” I said, circling my finger in front of my face, “this is because of somebody else.”

Joe took a step back and looked me up and down in an exaggerated way. “And tay think ye used to be wan of the quiet lassies at Air Europe.”

We met Christopher at Café Dante in Greenwich Village (his suggestion) and sat outside watching the world go by. As usual, Christopher was attentive and gracious and made polite conversation. After a few glasses of wine, Joe leaned over and whispered, “It’s a bloody shame he’s oan your team and no mine.”

“Your loss,” I smirked.

“Aye, yours as well by the looks of it.”

We ate al fresco and when it came time to give up our table (there’s no way the cues from the impatient waitress could be misconstrued as anything other than, “get outta here,”) Christopher suggested another place. On our way in the cab, Kimberly and I told the boys about the fun we had last night, pretending to be Swedish. They both said they wanted in on the act so it was decided that Joe would be Andreas, whose German accent sounded on point (at least to us!)

“I’m not so good with the accent thing,” Christopher said.

“Ye could be a New Yorker,” Joe teased. “That’d be novel.”

Christopher laughed.

“How about being French?” Kimberly suggested.

“I don’t think I can pull off a French accent,” Christopher said.

“You don’t have to speak,” I offered. “Just shrug your shoulders a lot and shake your head in utter disgust and disdain.”

We cracked up when he turned to us from the front seat and did just that.

I smiled at him. “That’s perfect Jean Jacques.”

Much to my surprise, there was a long line to get into the club but fortunately Christopher’s friend Jessica was on the door. When she spotted him getting out of the cab, she beckoned for him to go to the front of the line. We followed and while they exchanged pleasantries Joe (aka Andreas) made a point of letting everyone in the line know he was “Here vif my girls for ze dancing.”

I liked Nell’s the moment we stepped inside. The décor was made to resemble a British gentlemen’s club, with plenty of upholstered seating in rich fabrics and leather banquettes dotted around. I made myself comfortable beside Christopher on a plush, floral couch and made a mental note to tell Annabel about Nell’s.

“You good here?” Christopher asked above the din.

“Oh yes,” I declared. “I really like it.”

“I figured you would,” he said, looking jubilant.

Kimberly, Joe and I managed to stay “in character,” but our friend Jean Jacques somehow became American and told us more than once how “nuts,” we were, promptly followed by, “but I love you guys and this night is awesome.”

At one point, after Joe finally had the decency to stop flirting with Christopher, he sidled up next to me.

“Are ye sure the two of ye are just friends?”

I nodded my head yes.

“Then yer a dunderhead.”

“Why are you calling me an idiot?” I asked.

“Look at him. He’s pure perfect.”

“He is lovely, I’ll give you that, but we have no chemistry.”

“I beg to differ”, Joe slurred.

When Christopher invited us to his apartment for drinks, Joe gave me his sad, “please say yes,” face. His expression soon changed when I said, “Thank you Christopher, we’d love to but I know you have to get up early for work tomorrow so we’ll head back to the hotel.”

I’ve never been sworn at in a combination of Gaelic and German before!

 

August 19th, 1989

August 19th, 1989

Flight from LGW – JFK

Omni Park Central hotel, New York

Back in my favourite city, with Kimberly, aka Matilda, but I’ll get to that.

Flight time today was just over seven hours and I especially enjoyed tawking to the passengers from he-ah. I don’t know what it is about the Noo York accent but I absolutely love it. I had a good natter in the galley with my most favourtie passenger to date (excluding David of course!) a heavy set woman from “Lawnguyland.” Truly, the funniest and most adorned woman ever, she was just brilliant. I need to go to Long Island now just so I can listen to people speak!

Kimberly and I “forgot” to invite any of our crew out with us. From what we gathered on the crew bus, it seemed a few of them were planning on meeting to go to the Irish bar close to the hotel. I don’t really understand flying three thousand miles to America, only to spend the night in an Irish bar but that’s (some) crew for you.

Wasting no time, Kimberly and I dashed to our rooms to change and agreed to meet fifteen minutes later. We figured it’d be in our interest not to bump into the others when they met in the lobby.

We were all giggles as we stepped into the yellow cab and made our way to MK’s, which being a Saturday night, was mobbed. We started out in the bar downstairs and agreed that in the unlikely event we got separated, our meeting point would be by the two stuffed Dobermans.

Within minutes of arriving in the bar with the French looking antiques, we got chatted up by two very dishy Americans, one of whom piqued my interest when I heard his New York accent. However, prior to going out, Kimberly and I made a pact to stick together and make tonight about dancing and not about meeting guys. We stuck to it and became two Swedish girls who didn’t speak much English. Within a few minutes, the guys got bored with us speaking in a language they (or I!) didn’t understand and they walked away.

In a fit of laughter, we made our way to the club in the basement, where my Swedish friend, Matilda (a name that doesn’t sound even remotely Swedish!) adopted a bold attitude that somehow gained us entry to the members only club. The music was mostly house music that we danced furiously to, especially Lil Louis’s, “French Kiss.”

Slowly, we made our way up through each floor of the club, all the way to the VIP area on the top floor, also known as the bedroom floor because, yes, it’s made to resemble a bedroom, although I don’t think most bedrooms have a pool table! We dropped the Swedish persona at that point and my nonchalant act worked a treat and got us in!

In the cab on the way back to the hotel, we morphed into Swedes again and in the most unconvincing accent ever, “Matilda,” suggested we adopt new identities when we hit the town tomorrow night. I told her I enjoyed being Abby from Stockholm and might want to be her again!

 

March 11th, 1989

March 11th, 1989

At home

Saturday night and I’m home alone but I don’t mind because I had a two-hour plus chat with the love of my life. Unfortunately, it was on the phone and not face-to-face. Oh, what I wouldn’t give to be in Italy right now, kissing him. Our lengthy chat did find its way into “that” territory, which I have to say, was most enjoyable and I’ll leave it at that!

Mum and dad looked amazing when they left earlier for a dance, organized by some of dad’s co-workers. Mum wore her new red dress with all gold jewelry and dad looked really smart in his navy blue suit, freshly polished shoes and new pocket square. They were both in good spirits today, telling me more than once how thrilled and proud they are that I got my Wings.

Had a good look through the British Airways timetable and I’m amazed at the vast amount of destinations and the frequency of the flights. Seems BA operate about a dozen flights a day to EWR (Newark, New Jersey) and JFK (New York City, New York) so getting to the Big Apple shouldn’t be a problem. Of all the routes “we” fly to, New York is the one I’m most interested in.

Spent several hours throughout the day in the phone chair, catching up with:

Stephen – Off to Sydney tonight to see Andrew (the lawyer he met a while ago.) Said he was really excited to be going “down under” (we laughed and made crude comments!) He’s travelling on a staff travel ticket and the Aussie routes are notorious for being overbooked but hopefully now that it’s Autumn there and Stephen is travelling solo, he’ll be ok.

Pamsy – Off to Lanzarote tonight (I’ve forgotten the three letter airport code even though I used to fly there with Air Europe all the time.) Pamsy asked if I wanted to go to hers tomorrow, I’d love to but I’ve had my fill of trains and tubes for a while.

Jon – Rang to congratulate me, which was very sweet of him. Asked if I wanted to look at cars sometime this weekend and I probably should’ve said yes but I’ll get around to doing that soon enough.

I’ve been so preoccupied with training and getting through it that I haven’t found myself yearning for Ben as much as I usually do, but after talking to him tonight I feel a sense of immense longing again, plus much more.

For the first time ever, in the six years I’ve known him, I got the impression he’s feeling insecure.

“I hope some cocky pilot doesn’t come along and sweep you off your feet.”

“Of course not. Don’t be silly.”

“You never know.”

“I know.”

That will never happen.