My big move to transfer bases will be official, though I’ll be well on my way to the west coast before then. I am used to the fear and the concept of the unknown—I no longer feel as if I’m drowning. Any minute now sheer excitement will take over, but until then..still a bit nervous.
Soon, we’ll part ways, my base of 3 and-a-half years. You introduced me to South America, Asia, western Europe, and the middle east. I will be forever grateful, but you’re located in northern Virginia, which I’ve never taken a liking to. I must leave for San Francisco, one of my favorite cities and destinations, to try more Asia flying, and the elusive Sydney trip. Our last working day together will be March 13th.
With Warmest Regards,
Your soon-to-be SFO-based FA who will only visit on layovers or when flying through to see Raleigh loves.
Hi! Funny, I tried to find a song myself that would encompass all I felt while in Prague, and I neither decide on just one, nor love an entire song. Instead, I found bits of lyrics from different songs that I liked to express all the different ways I felt.
1. Damien Rice, “Prague”
I’m all dressed up for Prague / I’m all dressed up with you
I met up with a charismatic friend who dressed up and I was attracted to. I felt pretty every day I was there and hung out with him, and it definitely added something to my trip. But only these lines because the rest of the song is heart-breaking.
2. Janelle Monae, “BabopbyeYa”
Walking like a lonely fool in PragueSinging a love song and the words I wrote/I wrote for two
Gentle as a lullaby at night/I hear you humming private melodies/You’re near
Rewind the clock, our time’s approaching/Give us the eyes to guide us most when/We have no light to see throughout all our darkest days/And troubled ways
Eyes look to the moon
Avoid a world so sad
Ruled under the hate
Where there is love
Give me refuge in his kingdom
In the dark dangerous
I hope in the corner, Dear
Seeking the love Call us
Like a lonely matador at night
Fighting in the darkness for the light
I won’t stop until I hear the call of love…
And when I’m alone, you are near to me
You have made a home in my memory
There you will abide for forever
And I will keep you warm in the night
In the face of an awful danger
he risks his life to save her
Arms of strangers
I heed echos of your laughter in the corners of my mind
While I memorise each detail of your intricate design
In your hair there is a symphony
Your lips, a string quartet
They tell stories of a Neon Valley Street
Where we first met
now somewhere time pursues us
As we love in Technicolor
But I dwell in silence on your words
Which move me like none other
This time I shall be unafraid
And violence will not move me
this time we will relax
This time we will stay in our movie
I see beyond tomorrow
This life of strife and sorrow
My freedom calls and I must go
This song is probably the best example for me. My friend and I had several heart-to-hearts, he’s the kind of guy who gets to the center of you without you even realizing, and notices things about you that friends you have, it took them years to see. As we talked about what we wanted to do with life, and being clueless, but just wanted to love whatever we did, I have to admit that my eyes would wander and I’d zone out as I looked at hair hair, and how his lips moved when he talked then smiled then laughed, and how it felt as if he was looking right through me sometimes and made me feel vulnerable. And the last line, “my freedom calls and I must go”—my job is very fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants, and it felt like I left Prague as swiftly as I’d arrived.
3. Cee Lo Green, “F*** You”
This song played on every radio station in the cabs, on tv…just a pop reference for later. I’ll always remember I went to Prague right after this song came out and Cee Lo wore that crazy outfit to perform at the Grammys.
4. Anything by Rido.
We went to Cross Club on a Friday night, and I was introduced to Dubstep (which I was vehemently told is NOT techno). It was not at all what I was expecting, and I didn’t really know how to dance to it. But I reveled in being out of my element in the middle of all these different kinds of people who truly loved the music.
Sorry, I’m sure I gave you much more than you bargained for, but honestly, you hit the nail on the head for me on what I’ve been trying to find for myself. And your question helped me to flesh it out.
I enjoy what you’ve done so far on your blog, and I look forward to more. I hope I contributed something.
Just spent six days traveling and exploring Prague. How did I end up there? The story begins over three years ago…
Before NYE 2008, I was working a non-descript flight from Denver to Dulles, and I’m the greeter. This group of three guys come aboard. One of them smells absolutely delicious, and before I could stop myself, I lean in and ask, “WHO smells so good? Is it you?” The guy who personal space I was invading appeared to be at a loss for words, while his buddy said something like, “It’s his natural essence…aren’t you impressed?” It made me smile. I don’t remember how, but later, I end up chatting with them and find out that T, the one who responded so quickly, is the son of a retired FA. Awesome—one less person to whom I must explain my lifestyle. Find out they’re on their way to Amsterdam, and T tells me that he’s considering living in Prague. Cool, I think to myself. We exchange info to be fb friends. We leave it at that.
Fast forward to September 2010. I’m working a Denver turn (IAD-DEN-IAD), and it’s just another one-day trip. On the way back to Dulles, I am working business class on one of our widebodies, and I am working on the right side of the plane. Usually I stay on my side, just to keep things simple. But I was bored during boarding, and done passing out pre-departure beverages, and so I walked through the cabin and walked up the left-hand side. I’m maneuvering through passengers, and I casually notice that there’s a guy boarding with an exceptionally sharp suit—modern slim cut, and equally sharp tie. I look up from his feet to his face and *gasp* it’s T! Because we never shared another exchange after becoming fb-official, I doubted myself as I called out his name, but sure enough, it was him, and he remembered my name as well (thank goodness). What are you doing here?, we ask each other. Oh yeah, I forgot you’re from Colorado, I say. Turns out, he was stateside for a bit, visiting home, and was flying back to Amsterdam—again—before going home. To Prague. Where he now lived. Incredible, right? I continue to chat with him throughout the flight, and find out that he is traveling with friends—one is moving to Prague and one is traveling outside the U.S. for the first time. I tell T, we have to take a picture to document this, clearly we were meant to meet up again. How bizarre is this? How random?!
So T tells me, they have a few hours to kill between landing in Dulles and taking off again for AMS, so he asks me to hang out during their layover. At first, I must admit, I think to myself, dang, I dunno…traffic will be bad if I wait, and I’m tired…but no! This is a good time to tell you that I have a massive fear of missing out. That fear kicks in, and I give a resounding yes. We hang at a pub in the C terminal, and catch up on, well, everything. I enjoy spending those hours with new friends, especially with one of those new friends is raving about Prague as if it’ll be a mortal sin for me to miss it. He speaks about his new hometown with such passion and pride and excitement that I feel myself getting sucked in. I had never considered visiting Prague before. Sure, I heard it was beautiful, but the Czech Republic? Not high on my list. In fact, not even on it. But to hear T go on and on about its beauty and people and close proximity to the rest of the best Europe has to offer…one, it’s no surprise that he was student body president at his alma mater, and two,…I’m a sucker for passionate people. So he says that I’ve got to come out and visit, and he’ll show me around give me a place to stay. And I say, clearly and slowly, that he better mean that because I’m the kind of girl who will show up. Who will knock on his Czech door and say, “Hello! I’m here!” Who will fly over on a big block of days off to see if all he says is true. He gives me a smile that would make any lucid girl melt, and we part ways so they can make their flight, hence solidifying my wanderlust for Prague.
November 2010. I bid for vacation, with Prague in mind. I get days off in February, almost a full week.
February 2011. Six days off in the middle of the month become nine. Because I’m traveling with friends whose schedules are more restricting than mine, we plan on spending at least three days/three nights there. When we get there, one of the friends gets an extra day off, so we spend another night in Prague. We froze our arses off (I felt as if my toes froze together and my skin was burning), but pushed to see the city and most of what it had to offer. My friend T was most helpful in setting up accommodations and tourist hints. He spends some time wandering around with us, but not much—he’s been a resident for two years, and I can’t imagine how many times he’s done that exact same thing. Though we spent three of those four nights out with him by our side.
Transferring to San Fran = I. am. terrified.
There are moments when I smile so hard from excitement, my chipmunk cheeks hurt and you can see all of my teeth. But then…when I think of living in a new place, having to (gasp!) parallel park, walk in the dark, come home after midnight, maybe I don’t get along/like my new roommates, sleeping alone the first few nights…scared to the max. This isn’t like moving from Raleigh to NoVA. I had 30 classmates doing the same thing, and we all needed roommates and I lucked out—I’m still living with one of the original girls.
My mom told me she had already begun the apartment search. After clearing up a massive misunderstanding about how much I can afford to pay vs. what seems to be ballpark San Fran, I’m probably going to repeat my living pattern of what I did when I first moved to Virginia—live near the airport the first few months/year, then move closer into the city. And this is a city I actually ah-dore. I thought I’d check out some listings myself, and I googled, “best place to live near SFO.” Words that popped out the most: crime, crackheads, mugging. I’m sure I’m only noticing those, right? It’s not as if DC/NoVA is the safest, right? *panting in fear*
When I move to Cali(!), I’ll be in a different time zone. Permanently! Three hours behind? Whoa. And now I’ll hate transcons or any other trip that leaves from the east coast—it’ll always be longer going home, damn head winds.
I have a feeling I’m gonna have a lot of these “duh” moments. Bare with me.
Where to begin? How not to ramble? I don’t have the answer to either question, so I’m just going to start and let it flow and hope it makes sense. Either way, it’s an attempt to get a handle on the ride that is my life.
the short version:
10 February 2011
@1128 EST: Dad calls me, tells me that my number one priority for the day is to put in my transfer to SFO. I head to the airport for my 1250 standby assignment.
@1255: Reach the domicile, tell my roomie that I’m going to bite the bullet and put in my transfer, but she needs to tell me how. Transfer input accepted.
@1618: Get assignment to fly to O’Hare.
@1734 CST: Land in O’Hare. Turn phone on.
@1736 CST: Receive text message from roommate who is at the airport and is looking at transfers. Sends me a message that my transfer, the very one I had put in a mere five-and-a-half hours before, has gone through. Effective immediately. I am to report to SFO on 31 March 2011. Seven weeks from today.
and the long version:
I have been based in DC for three-and-a-half years now. It has the best flying, and I lucked out with roommates, and it’s a 40-minute or 4-hour drive to my college town, where all my best friends live. Out of my family, extended included, I am one of only a handful that live on the east coast. The furthest east of my other relatives?? Colorado. Between Hawaii and Colorado is where my blood lives and thrives. Which is fine, I could deal—Vegas is only a 4-and-a-half hour flight away. That’s nothing to me. What is something to me? Missing trips to the islands because I can’t get the days off or have enough time to travel. Missing babies being born and cousins getting married. Missing food adventures when my family decides to up and fly/drive to SoCal and meet with other random family members, sending me pics of all the fun they’re having. And the east coast? Pfft. First of all, the snow. The damn snow. Second, stressing when just one flight cancels down to Raleigh, and it ruins set birthday plans and takes years off my life from said stress. Being close, but not close enough to my best friends. Hating the miserable traffic and the arrogant and rude people in NoVA. Tired of getting the “Oh, you live outside of DC” looks and attitudes, as if nothing else exists outside of the fake city. Paying so damn much for rent. Yes, it’s an apartment that I adore. Too bad it’s in a place I loathe.
I didn’t want to move here—I had to, to accept a job that would change every fiber of me. And I don’t regret that. If it wasn’t for this job, I never would have left Raleigh and known the true fear of the unknown and the overwhelming realization that I can make it on my own. But I figured, with all this traveling, I’ll find a place that I absolutely love. And I’ll quit flying and really start my life. Ask anyone—the two cities I can’t shut up about and hide my love for? San Francisco and Chicago. I fully disclose that I’ve only seen both from a tourist’s perspective, but there’s something about both cities that has cemented them in my heart as amazing places that I’ll always be fond of. So I thought about moving to one. My company has bases in both, so I played pros and cons. Chicago: snow. That was enough. But San Fran…it’s near my family, smack dab actually; has killer weather (NO SNOW), though it can be a bit chilly for my taste; ah-mazing food; and people like me. That last reason I know sounds silly, but a friend of mine was describing me to her friend, and I overheard her say, “Yeah, she’s Asian, but she’s always with white people…” and what she meant was, I was always the minority. And Cali…I felt at home. As horrible as I feel for saying that, but…there are a lot more Americanized Asians like me who have a cultural identity crisis. Maybe I could date a guy who wouldn’t say “I’ve always wanted to date an Asian…” because it wouldn’t be so rare to have done so.
But moving on, I can feel myself fading out as I reach out to other tangents. Back to the transfer.
Early last month, my old roommate/classmate told me that she was transferring bases. And she said, “Kelly, San Fran is open.” And my heart dropped. In the good way. In the good, wheels-are-turning-dare-I-even-think-more-about-it way. Because I’d talked about transferring, and I adored my SFO layovers—downtown and airport—but I figured, eh, the base won’t open til the summer, when they usually do, if at all, so I’ve got time to think about it. But life is certainly inconvenient, popping up with a chance like that in the middle of winter and completely catching me off guard.
But I decide to just think about it. Well, I tried to just think about it. Until I started to wake up and go to bed, dreaming of living in San Fran. And being able to say that I just up and moved to my favorite city in the nation. And it began to stress me out. What if I waited too long, and the base closed? There was no guarantee of how long the base would be open, or how many people they would allow to transfer, or when I’d transfer if I got it, or how many other people were waiting to transfer…ugh. Too stressful. So I decided to bounce the idea off a few friends of mine, just to mention that maybe I might sort of kinda think about transferring. I visit Raleigh last weekend (5-8 Feb) and catch up with some favorites. And they were no help! They were excited, and awe-struck, and encouraging, telling me to go, telling me they could see me there and that I would love it and they loved it and they loved me. My friends suck in the best way. However, I had one friend I couldn’t joke about it with, but not because she wouldn’t approve or be supportive. Her name is Best Friend, and she is the ultimate woman, the coolest wife, the ying to my yang. We will be lifelong friends without a doubt. She is so completely ingrained in my thoughts and actions that I cannot and will not entertain the thought of a life without her, and I know that distance will not change that. But the thought of telling her that I’d break our hearts again by moving even further away (I’ve only seen her cry once, and it was when I moved from Raleigh to DC) made me cry. And yet, the universe was screaming at me to do something, because without any urging or acting on my part, she and her husband talked about me moving to San Fran and how I’d marry this great guy and they’d move out there and we’d all double date…cliche and heart-warming. I just sat there silently, hoping she wouldn’t notice that I was holding something from her, because she always can. So either she noticed and didn’t say anything, or she has forgotten about it already.
So anyway, I chicken out from mentioning it to her, and I fly back to DC. I decide to tell my parents about the chance to transfer, and they jump on it. Aggressively. Turns out, they hate having me on the east coast, and they want me on the other side ASAP. Understandable—my family is close-knit, and I’m thousands of miles away by choice. I tell them that they need to relax, I’m just thinking about it, I’m in a lease until the end of August, and I can’t afford to just up and leave (I joke that I could use their help), and I don’t know anyone in San Fran to live with or get to know the base with, and it’s scary. They say, at least look at it, see what the options are, and they will help. There’s no doubt that they are elated, and I am glad I waited to tell them because I wouldn’t hear the end of it until I put in the transfer, and they’d have pushed me to do it weeks ago.
Fast forward to yesterday. My dad was in town for work, and if I didn’t have to fly, he wanted to grab lunch or dinner. Of course I got called to fly, and I grouchily told him through voicemail. He called me back, and said it was no problem, he’d catch me next time, but he wanted to ask me something. And it was his tone—he sounded as if I had done something horrible and he’d just found out. And I had—I had let the chance to transfer lie dormant, and he was upset about that. He said that he wanted my number one priority for the day to be applying for the transfer. After breathing a sigh of relief, I started to say, “Dad, you know I can’t, because…” and he cut me off. You see, he flew with my mom and baby sister to San Fran that past weekend as I was gallivanting in Raleigh. He said that he and Mom said to each other, “This is such a nice place, I hope Kelly moves here.” And then they really talked about what they could do to get their oldest daughter to “come home,” to the coast that she was sure to love and meant to live on. So he tells me, “We are prepared to help you and do whatever it takes to get you out here. If that means breaking your lease, if that means driving across the country in a caravan, we will handle it. The most important thing is making sure you don’t miss the chance to transfer.” I silently burst into tears as my dad kept going on about how they were not going to let me miss a chance to move to a city they know I love.
Fast forward to the timeline. I had already discussed this with my roommate—after all, she’s also a flight attendant and would transfer to London so quickly if she had the chance. It was just a matter of who would flee first, and happily. But to think that friends of mine, coworkers of mine, wait weeks, months, YEARS to transfer. To apply and be rewarded in the same day? Unheard of. After I put the transfer in and talked to my roommate, I lost it again. I was the girl walking through the terminal, eyes welling up, and I could feel the eyes of strangers looking at me, rubbernecking, curious. And talking to her, I figured out why I was most upset.
I thought the main reason would be a combination of leaving loved ones behind and the unknown, the daunting task of moving where I only know a handful of people, and I use the term “knowing” loosely. But it’s because I feel undeserving. There are countless people who wish they could accomplish a dream like this. Who can’t afford to even think of it. And in a matter of hours, my life changed. Everything lined up quicker than I could have ever imagined, and it’s as if someone just snapped their fingers for me. And with no trouble. Sure, moving will be stressful, money (or lack of or spreading it wafer-thin), starting from scratch with friends and favorite places to eat and learning to get around and new traffic patterns and….the list goes on. And most don’t have a family like mine, a support system that could carry me to Hell and back unscathed. And without any pleading, or proving myself worthy, my parents selflessly tell me that they will do whatever it takes to help me move, to get me to the west coast, to get me to San Francisco. I don’t think I deserve it because I think only a perfect daughter deserves it. Someone who would have saved every penny and worked several jobs to make it happen. Someone who didn’t love to shop and enjoy good meals with friends. Someone who was more practical, more reasonable, more logical. Someone who had planned it and found a place to live and would have just told her parents, “This is what I’m doing and this is how it’s going to happen.” I feel like a silly, spoiled girl who did nothing to receive this amazing opportunity, and it’s not fair that I get this chance. This chance to be happy, to make new amazing friends, find out what really drives me, even maybe to fall in love. My parents are most certainly generous, but not so much that it smothered or hindered me. I always knew they were on the backburner of help, just a phone call away, but they have this incredible gift of allowing me to crash and burn on my own, to push them away to assert my independence without interfering. They allowed me to do what made me happy when other parents would scoff at my profession, considering it a waste of my degree. But Mom and Pops? They couldn’t be happier. Dad brags about my travels to his colleagues, and Mom acts as if it’s completely natural and this is what I was meant to do all along. I can’t even begin to think of why I’ve been so blessed.
I needed to write that out. My head is spinning and the screen is blurry. I pushed myself to the verge of tears just by typing. Even with all the tears and the uncertainty and the scariness, I am over the moon excited. I’m going to do what most people just talk about. What others have done and I’ve enviously followed their actions, thinking, I wish I could do something like that. And here I am, less than 60 days away from being able to say, “I’m San-Fran-based.” Whoa. And again, with the universe and all its signs, all I hear and see is San Francisco. In songs, in conversation, on TV shows, in articles, on fb, in the airport terminal.
This morning, after a night of hard sleep (I crashed from the emotional roller coaster and plethora of tears and sobbing yesterday), I headed downstairs to the hotel shuttle to head back to the airport. Super-friendly driver, chatty, smiley, foreign accent. He asks me, “Where are you flying back to? Home?” Yes, I said. “To San Fran, LA?” No, DC. “What? No! You look like a California girl!”