Some people feel trapped in their desk jobs. I know—not so much from personal experience—but because they have told me. These people who must stay crave adventure and an escape from the mundane. Their minds constantly wander to faraway places, while my feet wander in faraway places. These people believe that they must stay for their desks and their pets, that mortgage and those families and all of the many things that “tie them down.” These are good things and good people that keep them grounded, but they ‘keep’ them. There are many within this cross section of humanity that cannot fathom and never want to experience a life as “up in the air” as a flight attendant’s, and then there are many that view my type of life with envy. So badly do they desire to disappear as quickly and freely as a flight attendant does.
But, what you may not understand is that it’s nice to look free; it’s another look to actually be free. I wouldn’t say that flight attendants are “free.” I have never been as trapped; without choice on how to plan my days and how I live my life than I am now, working as an International Cabin Crew Member. I have never felt so much in a “prison” as I feel like I am in now. I am traveling the world, every single day, looking free and happy, while internally trying desperately to maintain my signature bubbles and positivity. Truthfully, I feel suffocated. I’m so scared that this wonderful job is taking my spirit, breaking my heart, and just making me so lost.
Being constantly ‘on-the-go’ does not equal freedom. A flight attendant’s suitcase life allows many to pick-up and leave in an instant and that can be wonderful. Cabin Crew learn to be flexible and fluid, because one cannot live in flight attendant life without a dash of spontaneity. Subsequently, we who live in this world trick many on the outside into believing that an ‘everywhere existence’ is the best way to live. But, sometimes we get tired. We become really tired of always going. In the quiet loneliness of another hotel room, we beg the universe to send us someone or something that will give us a reason to stay.
I can disappear quickly, but it’s not as beautiful as the Instagram creation you get to see. Beyond the picture perfect buildings of Copenhagen, the insanely beautiful blue of Hawaii, and the serene sunsets of the Dominican Republic is a girl grappling with tough life questions and deep doubts. I wonder if I am giving up the promise of love for adventure and foreign cities. “They” say you can have both wanderlust and family, but I don’t believe that ‘Mr. and Mrs. They’ were ever flight attendants. I think if they were, they would say differently. They say that, “distance is just a test to see how far love can travel.” I’m calling bullshit here.
Do you even know how many great guys I have hugged and kissed goodbye, how many airplane windows I have stared out of in tears, how many times I felt that feeling of missing and then losing? Oh. My. God. A heartbreakingly high amount of moments like such. I fucking hate goodbyes. Don’t tell me that distance and this life didn’t affect me or these relationships. Love couldn’t and hasn’t conquered my job, commuting, schedules, communicating, or staying. Love didn’t pay any bills, create adventure, or answer my first world problems. Love is powerful and love wins, but can it win this flight attendant thing?
Owning little but a suitcase and a flight attendant uniform doesn’t help the argument of remaining. Some of us live this way out of a love for an ungrounded life. Wanderlust runs deep. Some of us live this way because we are escaping another life that we don’t want to live. Some of us live in the whirlwind because it’s all we know. All we know is building relationships and friendships and Tinder dates through the lens of “leaving.” We leave important conversations out, because we’re not sure if talking about that deep stuff matters when we are present today and away tomorrow. There is so much that is missed and misunderstood when every week is dotted with an ellipsis of, “Well, hopefully I’ll see you again soon.” Along with leaving I leave what I really wanted to say out. What I wanted to tell you is that, “You matter a lot to me. I could have loved you and maybe you could have loved me, but I didn’t stay long enough to find out.” I guess not staying is telling enough.
I don’t think the regularity of goodbyes makes it easier. Flight attendants might pretend and act like we are good at bye, but what I know after seven years as a flight attendant who jumps on flights for work and fun is that leaving has never been easy. ‘Bye’ is more than hard. Harder than jet lag. More difficult than unruly passengers. More annoying than airports. Goodbyes are that familiar place of impossible that I, or any flight attendant and their significant flight attendant other cannot escape from. Goodbyes—when living this life—will never disappear. Leaving never leaves anyone unaffected. Ever.
Or maybe it does and I’m just the much too sensitive one.
I’ve stopped mentioning the, “So, I met this guy…” because the frequency I cross paths with someone attractive, interesting, or entertaining is most often daily. Flight attendants never have any trouble meeting quantity, but oh how we crave quality. I think we all hope for someone to “be there,” and to be there when we come home. To be our home. Even the most gypsy of souls dream of “their person” to come home to. This is what people don’t understand about me—I am never looking for an excuse to leave, but I am dying to find a reason to stay. I’ve hurt people along the way due to this life of goodbye. To everyone who is affected by my leaving, I’m so sorry. I’m sorry I’m unpredictable, and I’m sorry I haven’t stayed. I just don’t know where and how and who will make the goodbyes stop. If jet lag doesn’t kill me one day, I think the crushing weight of goodbyes might. I’m the girl taking the perfect photos, living the perfect life, and crumbling beneath perfect appearances.
Will the next goodbye be between me and the job, the life, and the existence that I have loved so much? Everyone is so fascinated with how I go, where I go, and that I go, but what if I just don’t want to go so much anymore? What if I want to go in my way and in my time and with my person and not because my uber-controlling airline makes me go ALL OF THE TIME? It’s not all bad, it’s just not exactly fitting right now. I’m discouraged, uncertain, and wanting to be free again. And really, I’m not sure if my heart can keep up with this life of bye…
“It is true that those we meet can change us, sometimes so profoundly that we are not the same afterwards, even unto our names.”
-Yann Martel, Life of Pi
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