Amidst the darkness, I sat silently, feeling the forward momentum of the aircraft propel the jet down the runway and on a trajectory to cross The Atlantic. Somewhere between 2.5yrs, a leave for fatigue, hundreds of long-haul flights, a couple of situations of sexual harassment, wonderful colleagues, amazing friendships, a few pounds gained, incredible experiences, I was losing hope. Or I already had lost it. Amidst the darkness— with a crew member on the jumpseats to my right and left— tears slid softly down my California suntanned cheeks. With each drop of salty liquid, I begged the universe to take me anywhere but here. I begged the universe to help me escape this company and this place. I begged the universe to make all of this stop. The destinations no longer seemed appealing. It could be Stockholm or Stockton, California for all I cared. I just wanted to go home. I just wanted a home. I just wanted a life. I just wanted everything that I couldn’t make this life give me.
Having these thoughts over a job as wonderful as mine doesn’t stop with just tears, sadness, and frustration, but it also includes guilt. I feel guilty because I should love this life entirely. I’m one of the lucky ones to be here and to be doing this. I don’t live a normal life; having access to places like regular people have access to a grocery store. I live with regular access to an international existence. “Where do you go after LA?” he asked me. “Oh— I have to go to Oslo.” “You have to go to Oslo???” as he shook his head, smiled, and pulled me close.” I laughed. Yeah. I mean, it’s cool. I will always think it’s cool. I just emotionally and physically can’t keep the pace. My goals have shifted and I’m ready to go, but held here at this company by a fair amount of fear and financial obligation.
Before I began flying, I remember throwing myself onto my knees, along a dirt road—alone and in utter darkness— telling the universe to please give me something that would save me. To give me something to hope for and love again. And then flying happened. And now, I beg the universe to take away or change the one thing that has given me so much happiness, hope, and purpose? How can this be??? Anywhere but here, I pray. It’s heartbreaking when what you love becomes who you hate.
As I pray this, you are praying to have a life like mine; of international travel and flight attendant trips. I’m sorry I can’t live up to everything that it is and all that it isn’t. My humanity is showing quite regularly these days. I feel guilty because I have the life that you want. I wonder if I am thankful enough. I wonder if I’m just not working hard enough at being happy. I wonder where the hell I went so wrong and why I didn’t catch this until the point when it hurts so much.
I just want to go back to when I could handle the shit of this airline; when the layovers and the people were enough to counteract all of the negatives. I just want to go back to when my rose colored glasses colored everything beautiful. I just want to go home. I want to escape you, Airline. I’ve put EVERYTHING into this, and I feel like the reward is— I’m broke, fatigued, and constantly afraid anything I write here will get me fired. How’s that for dream life??
I feel like I’ve betrayed the one thing that has been so loyal to me over all these years— flight attendant life. All flight attendant life is not equal. I’ve simply grown out of where I’ve been. Somehow, I and you must trust the pain of change and discomfort are pushing us into our destiny.