My definition of travel has adapted throughout the years; since beginning my employment in the aviation industry. Many pilots and cabin crew—who have been ‘lifers of the skies’— will mention that the last thing that they want to do is get on an airplane and go someplace on their days off. I’m not there yet. I still do want to ‘go,’ but it’s a different type of ‘there’ that attracts my soul. I want to go in the ways— and to the places— that I find most meaningful.
That ‘there’ brings me here. I’m alone in Copenhagen but alone is better than I thought. I never want to be completely alone, and in Copenhagen, I exist in both the quiet of an Airbnb that I deem as ‘My Danish Apartment,’ and the conversation of past friends and the joy of new acquaintances. Sophie, a vibrant and charming Danish woman invites me into her home; a retro style flat in a part of the city that is less familiar to me. She has decided to pursue life as cabin crew. As we sit and talk and laugh, I marvel at how I never dreamed the raw and real thoughts that I have typed on this blog would gift me wonderful introductions like this. Sophie is funny. She’s kind. She’s alive with enthusiasm. She is someone I would want to be friends with, but would never think I would be ‘cool enough.’ And yet, here we are; her out of her element in a new life as cabin crew and me out of mine in Denmark. But together, we find comfort and understanding. Maybe that’s the way life is— we need to go together in this adventure.
I never knew he would have ever considered ‘us,’ but as we sit in the kitschy top-floor café of a tropical hideaway hotel, he genuinely expresses feelings that I never dreamed he could, or did, have. I was always ok with the way we never were, but for the first time, a mix of sadness settles in; along with my complete surprise. To think that I could matter to someone after I leave their city— or months removed from when they have left mine— is impossible for my guarded heart to fathom. I sit and listen to his words, knowing that we will not change, but regretting that I never understood that he— that any man could actually care, miss me, or want me included for more than just moments in their life. He cared and I assumed he hadn’t. I begin to wonder if am I the one who is most responsible for breaking hearts, around the world, including my own?
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The atmosphere is electric. I have visited Copenhagen so many times and yet, always seem to find someplace or something new. On this Sunday night, it happens to be Hillsong CPH. I’m told by a woman with an Australian accent that God will meet me in ALL of my needs and that, out of brokenness, my greatest blessings will overflow. At the moment, what overflows are not blessings but an incredibly large amount of silent tears. Upon leaving, the Danish woman next to me gives me the longest and biggest hug; which is both very much welcomed by me and very un-Danish of her. I leave the space and experience feeling that, although I may not know where I am going, I know that I was meant to be right here, right now.
I enjoy the candle flickering on the table at the cozy café, while I marvel at how the baristas make latte art appear so easy! This thought almost angers me as I know— through many attempts with my beloved Nespresso machine and tolerable Aerocino milk frother— that creating exquisite designs in my favorite of liquids is definitely NOT simple. While considering the meaning of life in reference to coffee, I notice a familiar face saunter past. “Casper!” I exclaim with delight. Casper is a Dane who I happened to get to know when I was a regular at another Copenhagen café. It was the cafe that taught me the value of Avocado Toast. It was the cafe where I sat and sent my email resignation for the European Airline. Although Copenhagen had me at ‘Hello,’ it was during those years of flying for the International carrier that the place became more than a place. It became a part of me.
In some ways, I became a part of it, too. Casper sits and we talk about flying, coffee, new kids on the way, family, and life as we know it. It’s moments like this that I live for; it’s moments like this that make travel worth it. I don’t want to be the girl that goes unrecognized amidst a city because she’s never home. I want to be somewhere long enough to be associated with the people more than the inanimate airplanes that come along and go along. I want to develop roots so that, when I do land, I arrive with a hug, a hello, and a person to say, “I really do want you. I’ll pursue you and the epic life you dream of because that’s what I want, too. I want to land and fly and change the world— with you.“ Maybe I’m foolish, naive, and young to think that kind of love and light can exist in a grey and crazy world.
When Casper asks why I’m here, in Copenhagen, I say that I just wanted to be; that I just wanted to write. The answer I give is only partly true. I haven’t exactly written America’s next great novel in the past four days or accomplished my long ‘to do list.’ I tell Casper that I’ve truly done nothing exciting. “I only want to be in my Danish apartment and cook the same food that I cook at home in California. I want to write and go to the gym and ride my Danish bike…even though it’s too cold for a California girl to do that.” Casper smiles. “Will you be here at the cafe again tomorrow?” Yes. “This actually is the best coffee in the neighborhood,” I reply with a grin. “Of course I’ll be here.”
I’ve found that travel is often a pain in the ass, but the connections made because of travel are so incredibly necessary. It’s true. I don’t want to travel; not in the country jumping, destination ticking kind of way. This isn’t because I travel for a living. This isn’t because of jet lag or missing home. This is simply because there is more to life than travel. There is more to life than impressing you or anyone with an adventurous life.
You are the more to life that I’m talking about.
I don’t want to travel in whirlwind, unintentional obsession because I want to be present for you and for me. The yous that I will meet. The yous that I have met. The yous that I get to know over perfectly manicured coffees in favorite corners of the world. The yous that have invited me into your homes and lives and have told me, “I’m inspired to be a flight attendant. I’m inspired to do this new adventure.” Please, whatever you do— take your inspiration and fly. Go. Do what you need to do and see what you need to see.
Travel means little without the people who create a place. You’ll come to find it’s just another pretty monument, another old painting, and another naked statue with a really small penis. I’m not discounting the fact that works of art, creativity, and reflections of the past are not valid and meaningful, but after awhile, you lose track. It disappointingly all kind of looks the same. Somehow though, you never really lose track of the conversations and how the people in these places bring a unique vibrancy to your life
I live the way I do, not because travel is the ultimate goal. If travel was the goal, then we would all love our busy lives, hectic schedules, public transportation, overcrowded spaces, and mediocre overpriced food. Have you ever asked yourself, “Why do I travel?” Have you ever wondered, “Why do I WANT to travel SO badly?” What might we be running away from when travel becomes the destination?
Maybe you are at a place where travel makes sense; a place where the best thing you can do is city-hop and tick off a list of countries you have visited. We don’t need to all be at the same place in our lives. That is totally ok, but let’s try to continue to learn from each other just the same.
Personally, I don’t want to “travel.” The thought of continuous movement, many goodbyes, and checking a plethora of new destinations off of “the list,” sends a wave of nausea coursing through my body. I’m a flight attendant, and I have no desire to travel. I mean, why? So, I can see one more turquoise ocean and white sand beach? So I can meet one more man that I have to kiss goodbye while wondering if I will ever see him again? The costs of travel ARE worth the rewards, but travel will ‘cost’ you. I will never argue that fact. I’m only admitting that my heart and hopes are turning elsewhere…
I simply want to do life, in my favorite places, with my favorite people, all over the world.