I have officially started wedding planning! Ya know, over a year since our engagement.
I will preface this blog by just stating here & now – I am not a “bride” type of girl. I have never once fantasized about my dream wedding. I was not that little girl & I didn’t grow up to be that type of woman. I didn’t care about my first wedding and to be quite frank, haven’t given this one much thought either. I am the anti-bride. Clinton knows this & so far he’s fine. I care about the marriage not the wedding. I also care about the honeymoon but that’s another post for another day.
Last year I actually found a place in Orlando that I thought would make a good wedding venue. It is called Mather’s Social Gathering & it has a vintage speakeasy vibe that would suit our style very well but over time I started to lose interest in Mather’s. Don’t get me wrong, Mather’s is beautiful! I just wasn’t getting that feeling of “this is somewhere we’re serious about”. I started making jokes about running off to Vegas & letting Elvis marry us, which Clinton thinks is the tackiest thing ever but I gotta say – the appeal is still there to me. I like a little bit of tacky. I think my personal style would be described as classic with just a touch of camp added in for fun & to me, Vegas is just that. You can class it up all you want…but it’s still Vegas ya know?
So anyways, he won’t let me have Elvis. So I started looking at more traditional wedding venues in Vegas via The Knot’s website & discovered quite a few on the Strip that I like. I really love the Cosmopolitan hotel – I think it’s just so gorgeous, however, my bride Clinton shot it down. He says he doesn’t feel like he’d fit in at his own wedding if we went with the Cosmopolitan (or the Bellagio) so we have decided on the Paris hotel. We’re aiming for December of this year – I know! Fast! However, I feel it can be done because in my emails with the Paris hotel wedding coordinator, I asked about coming to visit the property & she asked if I was intending on having my ceremony that day (!!) so I don’t think squeezing us in for a quickie will be that big of an issue if she was thinking in those terms!
I started emailing back and forth with Megan, a coordinator, a couple days ago. I had a 22 hour layover in Vegas yesterday & she invited me out to come view the chapels & go over the wedding packages with me. She also sent me information on Planet Hollywood’s wedding packages – and as I was leaving yesterday I noticed another email including some information on weddings held in the gardens at the Flamingo (I adore the Flamingo hotel but with it’s main color being pink…I don’t see myself having a wedding there). They have been totally on top of communications with me! Yesterday as soon as I woke up, I booked my Lyft (my airline currently has our crews staying quite a ways away in Henderson so I now have to Uber or Lyft to the Strip) & rode to Paris.
I made my way to the 2nd floor where the chapels are located and was honestly surprised how truly gorgeous they both are in person! They had a ceremony yesterday at 4 PM so one of the chapels was slightly more decorated & while not the one we are choosing, it was beautiful! Paris has 4 different locations you can get married in – La Chapelle Royale, La Chapelle Champagne, the Arc De Triomphe, and the top of the Eiffel Tower. We originally wanted the Eiffel Tower but I’m not sure about the views (and I wasn’t able to go to the top yesterday to check them out so I’m going by what I see online & it didn’t look very photogenic) & only 12 guests are permitted for a E.T ceremony. I believe we have decided on the La Chapelle Champagne, which seats 30 guests & is styled in cool tones of white, gray, silver, & has a lot of crystal detailing. I plan to wear a black dress (I have a specific image in my head about this dress that I have not been able to find online or in stores yet but I’m not giving up!) & I think black with sparkly jewelry would really stand out in that chapel. We also want to incorporate a dark red, almost wine, color into our scheme which I think would be very fitting for so many things – the chapel color scheme, the fact it would be a winter wedding, & our personal style. In my mind…it’s beautiful. Hopefully they can work their magic as wedding coordinators & make it work because I’m clueless.
I FaceTime’d Clinton during the duration of my visit & walked him through as much as possible but decided to walk downstairs and check out restaurants to consider for our reception dinner. I stopped for breakfast at the crepe place downstairs & had a blueberry lemon crepe that sounded far better than it tasted. If you know me at all then you know I stopped by the slots and played a little -I tend to have some luck up my sleeve from time to time- but didn’t win anything this time around. Actually I did but ended up losing. I play mostly because I’m a Caesar’s Rewards member & like to keep my rewards active so I can get room comps. I walked over to Planet Hollywood & checked out their chapel which I thought was very plain & don’t believe we’ll be using. Out of pure curiosity I walked across the street to The Cosmopolitan & looked at their venues as well. It’s such a beautiful hotel! At this point time was running short on me because I was working a red eye home from Vegas to Orlando & I knew I’d want to sleep for a few hours. It was officially afternoon so I thought I’d grab a quick lunch before heading back to Henderson & noticed that there is a Hattie B’s inside The Cosmopolitan! Hattie B’s is a Nashville staple famous for their hot chicken. Hattie’s is divine. I had to leave Vegas on a high note since my crepe was kinda blah so I jumped in the line & ordered my hot chicken sandwich, pimento mac & cheese, and a sweet tea. Heavenly. Chef’s kiss.
Shortly after lunch, I got my ride back to the crew hotel totally inspired for things to come. I feel like I have a real plan forming now! I have some dress shops I want to check out – they’re scattered all over the country so I think I’ll be putting my flight bennies to use soon! I found a dress shop that I am just dying to visit that is in Salt Lake City & as luck would have it, at the end of the month my airline starts flying to SLC! I have also found a shop in Minnesota that had some beautiful black dresses as well as a couple shops around Florida. My Uber was hilarious & if you read my little story about him on Facebook then you already know what I’m talking about but he was right about one thing – “we gon’ make it!” and we did.
I had a wonderful visit to Vegas prepping for our wedding. I can’t wait to fly back out & start finalizing some decisions & have Clinton fly out with me the next time!
Next order of business is talking Clinton out of wanting to wear a white tux to our wedding. Please someone, help me.
I haven’t written a “favorite places” post in a while…
New York City is my ultimate favorite place. I can’t believe it wasn’t the first place I wrote about! It’s the one place I have consistently ,since I was about 16, dreamed of living. I often think of if my airline had a New York base…would I go there? Even if for ,like, 6 months just to see what it would be like. Not move (we bought a house last year, I’m never moving again hopefully) but stay there on and off so it felt like living there.
A couple months ago I had a super cute chaser on one of my flights who currently lives in New York. She told me that a year ago she scribbled down “365 days NYC apartment” on a sticky note and stuck it to her bedside table – she didn’t know how she was going to do it but living in New York was her dream as well. One day ,out of the blue, a friend reached out to her and said “I’m moving to New York and I know you want to go too…do you want to live with me?” and so they began looking through apartment options and found one & her dream came true. She manifested this move. Now. Mind you, she is in her 20s. She does not have a mortgage to worry about. She does not have a fiancé who would sooner die than live in a freezing cold & quite liberal city. But how I wished that in my late teens to early 20s that I would have done something like that with my life! She told me that living in New York is great but ,turns out, not for her. So her next dream is Los Angeles – after her lease is up that’s where she’s heading! What a badass! Her opinion is that living in the city means that everything is just a little harder than it should be – she’s on the 5th floor in her building that doesn’t have an elevator. So for laundry ,for example, she’s lugging her laundry bag down 5 flights of steps to the laundry room in her building. Start laundry. Back up 5 flights. Back down 5 flights to put laundry in dryer. Back up 5 flights. Back down to retrieve laundry. Back up again to put laundry away in apartment. Or grocery shopping…or getting to work! She rolls her luggage to the train station, rides to the airport, and then commutes to Florida to report for work. I understand this. I get that it would be hard. I’ve just never been able to shake the feeling of how fun it could be.
She actually put a fun idea in my head – maybe one day if I decide to really pull the trigger, I could just check the NYC sublet pages on Facebook & find an apartment to rent for a couple months! Maybe even just a month. I could totally handle a month! This is all just a maybe of course, I’m obviously happy in Florida & most certainly can’t handle a place that snows but it would fulfill a dream of mine. I’m a big believer in fulfilling your dreams. I’ve done nearly everything I want to do & will continue doing exactly what I want so who knows? Maybe I could pull this off one day & me, Clinton, Emma & I can go be city slickers for a month!
In honor of my love for New York…I’m recycling a post I wrote in 2018 that I recently found tucked away on my neglected little MacBook Pro.
“My whole life I’ve wanted two things – to be a writer and to live in New York City. If I can do one while doing the other? Even better. I’ve never been one for a small town. I don’t want to bump into people I went to high school with in Walmart and see their kids with the sticky faces and be forced into small talk about whatever new shit the soccer mommies sell on Facebook because they have nothing else to do. I couldn’t do it. I want adrenaline and excitement! I want to be in awe of my life every. single. day.
There were times when I lived outside of Chicago when I had a very lax job, I would sit outside in my car instead of being inside and ,ya know, working and stare over this little hump of a bridge. Once you were over the bridge you would see the South Shoreline train station that would get me to Chicago in about 30 minutes. I loved that train station. It would take me to my favorite place ever. It would deliver me from mundane, bland, uneventful, and boring to pure bliss and excitement. I would sit and stare for a few moments and debate leaving work. I didn’t have a traditional job to where anyone would even know. No one even knew I was sitting in my car, fantasizing about leaving! My boss lived in Michigan, I had no coworkers, and worked 100% solo. In my mind I would take it one step farther – I would just stay gone. I could find a job in the city so I could go every day! I could take Emma and we’d live out by the river/Lake Michigan and we could walk along the water when it was sunny out. I could have coffee and lunch at Eataly every day if I wanted to if only I was there to do it. But no, no here I am, in my Hyundai…in a parking lot…in frumpy work clothes, following the rules (kinda), and living “that” life. I would go home, send in my reports, feed the Ems, start dinner, and be prepared for the routine. Silent dinner, mediocre TV, shower, skin care, brush teeth, bed. Wash, rinse, repeat.
A couple years later, I would visit New York for the first time and I loved it as I’d waited my whole life to visit but I was a little jaded. It was confusing and hard to navigate as opposed to the Chi’s easy vibes. I wasn’t sure it lived up to my mental hype. I was overwhelmed mostly & it didn’t help that I had made an itinerary that was packed from dusk til dark to make sure I did everything I wanted to in case I never got to return! Luckily for me though, I did. It took a while but I made it in December of ’17 on a Newark layover. I had just started flying a few months prior & knew Christmas would be hard for me (that was the day I found out my ex was ,like, for real cheating on me) so I decided I wanted to spend Christmas in New York to restore my holiday spirit. All the flights were pretty full so I was afraid of flying on my benefits in case I made it there & got stuck so I gave up on those dreams & decided I’d try a different year when crew scheduling had other plans for me – I showed up to sit a 5 hour ready reserve period & when I signed in, they had taken my ready reserve away & put in a trip. I slightly panicked until I saw it – a deadhead to Newark. 16 hour layover. Work one leg to New Orleans the next day, and deadhead home. It was December 23rd & 24th. I would be in New York for Christmas (Eve-ish). I had a great time. It was busy. So damn busy. Completely saturated with people – tourists from the small towns I am bored by, there to see the Rockefeller Center tree and go ice skating. I can barely make my way through Times Square due to slow moving droves of people. I went with one of my crew members who is from Poughkeepsie and we made our way to all of the holiday hotspots and back to Jersey. He did all the navigation & even taught me where to get good sandwiches in Newark & how to properly order them. I remember standing in front of the Rockefeller Center tree & was in complete disbelief that this was my life. That I somehow cheated the system and was allowed to be this blessed. I saw everything I wanted to see and felt so, so grateful for it all.
Then, 2 weeks ago I had another long Newark layover on my schedule and another crew member said she wanted to go with me but she wanted to eat and sleep for a few hours before we left and I thought to myself “hell no” – I don’t like to waste time. I said I wanted to go, and by God, I’m going whether she goes or not…so I left. Plus, I kinda wanted to go alone. I like my alone time. I walked from our Newark hotel to Newark Penn Station. It’s not far at all (one street over from our hotel) and while Newark isn’t the safest place to go walking, I’ve learned no one is out to bother me. Same way as with Chicago, Detroit, Atlanta, and New Orleans. And I decided since it would be dark when I would be back, I would just pay for an Uber to get me back…I didn’t, but still. It was an option if I didn’t feel comfortable walking around in the dark. I get to Penn Station and purchase my ticket at the computer & realize I don’t really know what track to go to…on the South Shoreline going to Chicago there was only one track to get you there and the one to get you back home would have a lit up screen. So I asked a cop. She told me to go to track 1…perfect! Thank you! So I stroll down the corridor to 2 sets of doors to go to track 1…but which one do I pick? Left or right? Oh to hell with it, go right. I get upstairs and start stressing a little bit because I’m not sure I picked the right track and what if the train goes to the OTHER track 1?! I mean it wouldn’t matter, I could walk over and catch the next one but what a nuisance. Then I realize the other side is for the PATH train and I’m taking Jersey Transit so cool. We good here. I double checked with a couple in front of me just in case. They were as lost as I was but I decided I was right and reassured them I knew how to get us to New York.
Sho’ nuff, I was right! It was a cold and rainy day so I decided indoor activities only (jk, jk, I started off that way but definitely did not follow through) – but my first stop on this layover was a must do. A dream I’ve had since learning how to cook – the Chelsea Market. I saw it on Food Network so many years ago and decided “I must go here one day” – I love food. I love to go out to eat and try different things. I love cooking and new ingredients and quirky food trends. It was on my “secondary list” of things to do the very first time I went to NYC…all the touristy things came first and the not-as-touristy things were added onto the second list. I never made it that first time. New York’s Penn Station is right beside of Madison Square Garden and a little over a mile walk from Chelsea so I took off on foot and figured if I get cold or too wet I can go into a restaurant or cafe or little shop to warm up. I made it quite a ways until I saw a doggie boutique called the Barking Zoo. I went in and bought Emma a cookie that said “I pawprint NY” on a cookie in the shape of an apple. The owners loved me but berated me for not wearing a coat (I was ,however, wearing a fleece lined zip up as that was the only warm thing I packed) and begged me to walk to 14th street and buy a cheap jacket to wear. Sorry, it’s a no from me folks. On I trekked to Chelsea Market. My phone was off by like half a mile so when I strolled up on it it shocked me because I still had a little walk left according to Apple maps.
It was busy but nowhere near as busy as I figured it would be! My first stop was Fat Witch Bakery. I browsed and decided I will bring “C” back a brownie as he loves brownies but I would come back and purchase later as I had a lot of ground to cover and why would I want to stop now? So, I went onward. I went to Bowery Kitchen Supply, Chelsea Market Baskets, Artists & Fleas, Pearl River Market, Posman Books, and a few of the specialty food stores. I bought “C” a fancy pair of chopsticks at Pearl River because when we went to Sanibel he taught me how to use chopsticks on our sushi date. I bought myself a pair too. I’m cute. I loved all of the quirky gift shops and flea market vibes but honestly, it was time to settle on where I wanted to eat. I stopped by this gorgeous tea market (Spices & Teas(e)) and bought a giant iced tea (Pina Colada Hibiscus! It was red!) with honey and while I was in line I asked the cashier where I should eat – he told me Creamline which was directly across from them and a man overheard me that was in line behind me (Igar? Ibar? A very unique name) and told me to eat at Friedman’s. I asked if it was a place that would be ok with me sitting alone and that I didn’t want to take up table space if it was more suited for groups of people to which he replied “Get over it! It’s New York! The perfect place to be alone” and I thought to myself in that very moment “Fuck yeah! You’re right! Girl power!” Ok, maybe just “he’s right!” so I go to purchase my tea and the cashier says to me there’s a $10 minimum if you’re paying by card and my tea was only $3…I was about to hand it back because let’s be real, no one needs $10 in tea when Igar behind me said to not worry about it and how he’s got it! It was the kindest thing ever. I told him absolutely not but he insisted to which the cashier replied “I was going to give it to you for free anyways honey. Enjoy”…..New York. Pushy, busy, loud New York. I mean, how do such awful people exist in this world? 😉
I ended up settling on pizza. Once I had my lunch at the pizza place I decided to revisit all my favorite shops and buy my souvenirs. So I went back to Fat Witch and bought “C” his brownie and myself a brownie AND a blondie. Ps — the resounding opinion on the Fat Witch is, it’s cute and kitschy but the treats were mediocre at best. My homemade brownies taste 10x better than those bland (but very cute) little guys. Sorry Fat Witch. Next time I’m doing dessert at the Doughnuttery or Sarabeth’s. And there WILL be a next time because that place as a whole was amazing.
I really wanted to take a bratwurst home from the German restaurant in the Market but decided randomly that I wanted to continue on. It was a bit rainier at this point so I took an Uber up to Times Square and walked around there. I stopped in the M&Ms World store and filled a personalized bag of black and red M&Ms for “C”…his last souvenir (in his favorite colors even!) but I do get him something from all of my “cool” layover spots (such as the voodoo doll made of bones I bought him in New Orleans, which he said was creepy as hell but he loved it). I walked all the way up to Central Park before I couldn’t take it anymore. My feet were genuinely killing me. They ached and throbbed with every step I took. The rain started and stopped on and off the whole day and I looked horrible. It was time to go. I couldn’t walk all the way back to Penn Station so I took one last Uber.
On this trip to New York, I finally realized why I’ve always loved it so much – it truly IS a magical place. It’s a magical place to share with someone. It’s magical to be there with friends. It’s magical to be there totally, 100% alone. Doing whatever I want on no one’s time but my own. I could eat where I wanted, visit where I wanted, see what I wanted to see. You’d think it being such a massive place (but quite small…Manhattan is only 13ish miles long and 2.3 miles wide) it would be horrible to be alone in New York. Maybe it is for some. But not for me. I thrive on it. I make friends with quirky tea market employees who compliment my nails. I get asked for directions by tourists with insane Cockney accents like they belong in a Harry Potter movie. I even know the guys who make the best damn deli sandwiches at the bodega I like to stop at in Newark. I will never (probably never) leave Florida but in the oddest of ways, New York feels like home. I’ve never lived there and probably never will but when I am there it feels like I’ve returned to the warmest, comfiest bed. I didn’t have that feeling the first time I went there and I think it’s because I didn’t do my own thing.
From the time I was on the train going to New York I was people watching and wondering on how everyone ended up here. The lady with the cross tattooed on her face on the train? What made her think the cross was a good idea? Why her face? What does she do in New York? Is she dangerous? Is she going to Queens? or Brooklyn? Or hell, she could go to 5th Ave for all I know! The trio with the Cockney accents…did they just move here? Are they vacationing from England? Are they wizards disguised as real people like in Harry Potter?! Do they think I’m a muggle?! The girl walking out of Harry Winston dressed immaculately with perfect hair but an absolutely nerve grating voice…is she as vapid as she sounds? Does she work at Harry Winston? Is she getting engaged? Does she live here? Is her boss like Miranda Priestley? The men who sell dirty water hot dogs from the street carts…how’d they end up here? Do they make a good living selling hot dogs? Should I buy a cart and move here and sell hot dogs?! And then there’s me…I wonder if anyone wonders about me. What would they wonder? “Does she live here? Did she move here from the South? What brought her here?”…
While I walked and people watched I had the Chicago thoughts – ya know, if I didn’t want to live in Florida and be a flight attendant (which I do on both parts…always!) I could pick up and move to New York and not one damn person could stop me. I actually could disappear. You may see me one day selling hot dogs or strumming a guitar I don’t know how to play on a street corner. I could get based out of Laguardia or JFK or Newark and keep flying. I could drive the horse drawn carriages around Central Park! Or, very simply, I could write. New York City. She makes you open your eyes and pay attention to people and appreciate all the weirdness. New York City. She is the perfect place to roll around in your thoughts and have them flow out of you. She brings the creativity out in you. New York is the perfect place to be a writer. Even if just for a visit, it’s just enough to rejuvenate you. You don’t have to live there. The energy sticks with you far after you’re gone. My favorite place, New York City.”
My buddy bidders & I have parted ways! Just for a little bit, I’m sure. So the last 2 months I’ve been flying solo. Actually, next month I will be flying solo as well – super solo actually, as I have a chaser line which means I will not be part of a regular 3 person crew.
Let’s go on a trip!
*I am skipping all the “prep” that I usually cover in my blogs because it takes up so much space & also, I didn’t prep much at all this trip anyways due to my layover lengths. I figured I would be eating out during my 30 hour layover in Kansas City & I packed very lightly on the clothing BUT did include my laptop so I had a third piece of luggage anyway!
I am currently in Kansas City & will finish this post tomorrow when I am home. I am on a 4 day trip with a great crew! I am with 2 guys, one of which I have flown with multiple times & really enjoy flying with. We’ll call him “E”. One I just met 2 days ago at the start of this trip but I really enjoy him already. We’ll call him “M”. I have certain flight attendants that when I see their names on my pairings (pairing is another word for trip) I feel relieved because I know that I’ll be okay. I need flight attendants that I can feel safe with in the air – people who will not take shit, people who know their shit, and people who won’t panic & leave you hangin’ if shit hits the fan. “E” was already one of those flight attendants for me & knowing “M” from this trip alone…so is he. They’re both very funny & personable with guests & I could totally see either of them being able to diffuse situations if need be. A good crew means EVERYTHING when you’re 35,000 feet in the air! I chose to fly lead on this trip & felt very confident that this trip would be lovely, smooth, & uneventful, which it has been.
Our first day was one short leg – Orlando to Richmond, VA for a 16 hour layover. It was a night flight & we didn’t get in ’til after midnight. It was a perfect, smooth flight. The mask mandate has officially went away so flying is so much easier. With that awful mandate in effect, it felt like people were coming on the planes so tense. Like they were just ready to fight. Whether it was me or another passenger, they came on ready to throw down. My last trip was my first not wearing a mask & I’ll just say…,well, for a while now I’ve had anxiety before trips. I have a lot of fear that someone will attack me on the plane or that I’ll end up on the news or become Facebook famous…it was making me so nervous to fly. When they lifted the mandate, I felt that anxiety finally leave. I feel like lifting this mandate was the best thing that could be done for the mental health & SAFETY of flight crew. This is now my second Richmond layover, with my first being just a couple weeks ago. We stay in a really nice part of Richmond in an awesome location – tons of restaurants around & lots of shopping. I wanted to go out the next day and just walk around and get some sunshine but I couldn’t bring myself to wake up early enough! I slept until almost 11 AM, which is pretty unheard of for me since most of my showtimes are usually very early. I find that when I bid alone, I get mid-day to afternoon showtimes so I can sleep later.
Okay, I’m officially back in Florida & off for a few days so I can focus on writing.
Anyways, in Richmond I didn’t do anything. Again, I would like to go out & explore as I ,literally, go out as often as I can but sadly a couple weeks ago when I had a 28 hour layover in Richmond, some craziness went down & it shortened my layover to 11 hours & when I tell ya’ll I was exhausted…you literally have no idea. I was miserable. This time my layover was only 16 hours and I slept about 11 of those hours! When I woke up, I ate my meal prep & showered & got ready for the night’s flights.
Day 2 was Richmond to Orlando, Orlando to Kansas City, MO. I don’t know if anyone really remembers this about me but I actually lived in KCMO for a short period of time in 2015. I was there from Christmas 2014 to June of 2015. Maybe July, I’m not sure. I really love it as a city & was excited that I got approved for this trip. It was not on my original line (schedule) & when I saw that this trip included a 30 hour layover there, I hoped like hell I could get it…and I did! We had an excellent chaser on the first flight & once we got to Orlando, we changed air crafts to an A319 – meaning, we only need the 3 original crew members to operate. Both flights were fantastic with lovely passengers…midwestern flights tend to be so much better to me. The people are so lovely. The more north you go, the more I have no interest in flying there. New York City is my favorite city on earth but I don’t work LaGuardia flights. It’s for my sanity.
I absolutely adore flying to KCMO for multiple reasons – it is a small airport, it is a short walk to the shuttle pickup (some airports *ahem* Atlanta/Minneapolis/Denver/Pittsburgh take FOREVER to get out of!), and the shuttle is always there so you don’t have to wait (who really enjoys waiting at the airport when you’ve had a day of work?). We also stay in a very nice hotel downtown so there’s lots to do! Staying downtown is such an underrated luxury. It’s less you’ll spend on transportation because most things are walkable, things stay open later in case you get in late & need food, & there’s far more entertainment options in downtown areas.
I already knew exactly what I wanted to do while there – I have a lot of favorite food spots in KC! The best BBQ I’ve ever had in my life is from Joe’s Kansas City (formerly Oklahoma Joe’s when I lived there) – the first time I ate there, it instantly replaced Carolina BBQ for me. As a southern girl (and Carolina at that!) I take BBQ very seriously. Actually, while BBQ is not necessarily just a southern food, I take ALL southern food seriously. It really irks me to my core to see someone put actual corn in their cornbread. Anyways, I’m rambling (I could talk about food all day!) but I knew I had to make a return to Joe’s. All I could think about was those delicious little burnt ends! So, on day 3 of my trip when I wouldn’t be flying at all (remember, 30 hour layover!) I got ready & booked a $6 Lyft out to Joe’s. I went as soon as they opened because something I remembered well from 2015 is that Joe’s gets CRAZY busy! Joe’s is inside a gas station and I have seen the line to get in to eat wrapped around the side of the building! I my have had the time to wait but I certainly didn’t want to. It was already pretty busy when I got there but there was no line, I was the only person in line when I ordered. Shortly after I sat down though, the line grew all the way to the door! My burnt end sandwich was everything I remembered it to be from 7 years ago!
Typing that feels surreal. 7 years. It’s so bizarre to me that it’s been that long. I actually struggled to remember quite a bit about KCMO while I was there. I remembered the restaurants I liked to eat at & where I liked to shop. I can remember my address from there as well. I remember a little about my job & my gym I went to – that’s about it. I don’t really remember what I did for fun there! I wish I would’ve documented more while I lived there.
I sat at Joe’s for a bit just sipping my drink & enjoying being solo & being in a place that feels familiar. When I finally decided to head back, I purchased a couple bottles of BBQ sauce & some seasonings to take back home with me. I was going to head on to Country Club Plaza to go shopping but changed my mind when I realized how heavy the bag of BBQ sauce was! So I went back to my hotel to drop my souvenirs off. My crew had all went their separate ways – “E” stayed in because in his own words “I’m broke. I packed sandwiches & my VR headset”. I bumped into “M” in the hotel lobby and he was on his way to the Jazz museum. I had changed my mind on Country Club Plaza & decided to just walk the 20 minutes to City Market instead. I had always wanted to go to City Market when I lived there because I love farmer’s markets & food halls but never did make it out there. I had nothing but time so I changed clothes and made the trek to the market. It was such a perfect day to be out walking and being in the sunshine! Not a cloud in a beautiful blue sky.
At the market, I stopped in a boba tea place & got a green apple boba tea & a couple macarons to go, walked around the backside of the market where there is a small park, grabbed an empty bench and just hung out. My tea was delicious but the macarons were mediocre at best, but it was fine.
For dinner, I had Cupini’s. Cupini’s is the most delicious Italian restaurant I have ever been to. I only ate there once while living there & it was enough to make me a fan for life. Years ago, I had seen them on Food Network. “Diners, Drive Ins, & Dives” I believe. They make all of their pastas by hand & their lasagna looked to die for, so when I lived there I made it a point to try them & they are truly amazing. I had lasagna and tiramisu. It was a great day to stuff my face in a city I used to call home.
That night I was absolutely exhausted & needed to be up at 4 AM. Our shuttle was leaving for the airport at 5 so that gave me 50 minutes to get ready (I go down to catch the shuttle 10 minutes prior to shuttle time) but as soon as my head hit the pillows suddenly I couldn’t sleep! My eyes & throat had been bothering me (allergies!) so I swapped my pillows for the ones that went unused on the double bed in my room & cleaned my contacts & case really well in case I had any allergens clinging to me. At this point, I was getting anxious at the thought of how tired I was going to be! I just knew I was going to be miserable the next day (I was…I cannot stress this enough, I hate mornings. Waking up is traumatic as hell for me on some mornings) but on day 4 aka Go Home Day, I try to shrug it off & power on just for the sake of – I’m going home! I had 3 hours of sleep. ON A 30 HOUR LAYOVER! Unfrigginbelievable. Leave it to me.
Day 4 was our longest day – Kansas City to Orlando. Orlando to Pensacola. Pensacola back to Orlando. We changed aircrafts once arriving into Orlando even though we were still on a 319 so that was annoying & the aircraft we were switching to was coming in from Indianapolis. That flight was delayed ,so, as they say, “shit falls down the ladder” which in turn meant our next 2 flights were going to be delayed. The Orlando/Pensacola flights should have been a very quick turn & it was the only thing keeping me going through the day – the sheer thought that these flights would be about an hour or less. They went by pretty quick, the people were awesome, & our pilots were are able to make up some time in the air but it didn’t matter at that point. I was exhausted. I LOOKED exhausted!
Once back in Orlando, we split up our credit card applications that we’d had submitted to us from the last 4 days & went our separate ways again. We all live in different directions of the airport – one in Tampa, one south of Orlando somewhere, and I’m an hour north east of Orlando. I called my mom on the way home since I don’t often talk to her during my trips & when I got home, Clinton ordered me a pizza for dinner & he left for work for the night. I stayed up just long enough for a shower & to eat some pizza before taking a shot of my new favorite TikTok find – Mary Ruth’s liquid magnesium, which is supposed to be an excellent sleep aid if you can’t do melatonin (I can, Clinton can’t…gives him weird dreams & makes him really groggy the next day) & I knocked out until 8 AM the next morning when I was still so tired that I couldn’t form words. However, Emma had a vet appointment in Ormond Beach at 9:45 so I had to straighten up fast!
We had a quick breakfast & her appointment went well (she’s such a good girl!) so now that I was a functioning human AND we were already in Ormond, I convinced Clinton to drive up A1A to the dog friendly stretch of Flagler Beach just for a fun walk on the beach. It was windy, the ocean was rough, there were Man o’ War everywhere, & Emma hates the beach so we didn’t stay long! I’ve officially went over the timeline of the actual trip so I’ll wrap up here.
My next trip starts in 3 days & I’m heading to Los Angeles, Cleveland, & Latrobe (Pennsylvania) as my layover spots. If I do anything cool, you’ll be the first to know.
Picture it – tax season, 2017. My cousin Sara and I decide we are going to drop a small fortune on concert tickets…Hanson tickets, specifically. Remember them? From the 90s? Little guys who kinda looked like little girls? Honey, the grip Zac Hanson had on me as a 9 year old. I was obsessed. I remember in the 5th grade when Titanic first came out, one of my best friends told me she’d got to see it & how she believed Leonardo DiCaprio was actually cuter than Zac Hanson to which I remember saying “excuse me bitch but what did you just say to me?” – okay not really, but that’s how I felt inside. I actually just Googled old Bop magazine covers for this blog & I’m mortified. How on God’s green earth was I ever a Zac girl? Clearly Taylor was the real dime. Still is & that’s all’s I’m sayin’
*Leo also had his moment with me up till…present day.
They’re coming to Nashville on September 15th, which happened to be my 30th birthday. My friend Jeri and I decided we’re going to fly up and make a whole trip of it & she would hang out while Sara and I went to the show. However, my airline had other plans for me ~ such as hiring me and putting me through an extensive training program with a projected graduation date of September 15th. Which was great! But as we were told right off the bat – if you have any vacations or need a day off during training, please withdraw yourself from the class & try again later. So I had to let my ticket go. My new job had to come first because I’ll be damned if I mess that up & end up having to stay at Bealls. I didn’t know till much later but Sara didn’t go either…without me, it was difficult finding another Hanson fan (a “fanson” if you will) to go with her and so she just stayed home. It was a bummer but it had to be that way.
But it’s fine…we just had to wait 5 years! Yes folks, on July 15th, Sara and I will try this thang again at the Ryman in Nashville. Tickets were way cheaper this go’round so I decided to surprise her by going ahead and buying them for us! There weren’t many left but I’d say we got decent enough seats. I couldn’t hold it in – I immediately messaged her and asked “whatcha doing on July 15th?” she didn’t answer so I sent a series of messages and a screenshot of my confirmation email and said “I know what you’re doing” “you’re coming to see Hanson with me” *screenshot* “I couldn’t wait” “I thought about surprising you for your birthday but I couldn’t wait that long”
I am so pumped! First things first – I get to be with one of my favorite humans & family members of all time. I have no siblings & Sara is probably the cousin I’m closest with besides my cousin’s oldest daughter, Jena. They’re my girls. My best childhood memories have Sara in them…and we’re still truckin’ along, creating more! Second, I’ve never been to the Ryman. Third, I owe this to Sara, yes, duh. But I also owe this to 9 year old Autumn. She deserves this. When I was a kid, we didn’t have a lot of money & something like a concert was pretty unheard of to me. I understand that a lot of concerts run pretty expensive so as a little girl, I guess I figured they were astronomical in price! As often as I can, I don’t deny myself of anything & I try to make up for things I may have missed out on during childhood. So if I want to go watch my guilty pleasure/childhood favorite band then dammit, I’m doing it! 4 years ago, I saw Britney Spears in Fort Lauderdale & I thought that was peak childhood. After Hanson, all I have left is Spice Girls (complete with Victoria Beckham or it doesn’t count) & I will have completed my elementary school trifecta of favorite artists.
As for Clinton, I told him a while back about the show and he responded with “Aw baby that’s fine but don’t invite me because I don’t want to go” – okay fine hater, I’ll go fan girl in peace, thankyouverymuch
My last post has been my most viewed post! I was a little surprised by that because it was so incredibly long but good to know anyone reads this!
I decided to write another “Come On A Trip With Me” post because my most recent trip had me in New Orleans for 2 nights during Mardi Gras & I thought it’d be a fun read!
This trip was also a 4 day trip with all early showtime times. I was with both Karren & Wendy again for this one. We had 2 nights in New Orleans and 1 night in Myrtle Beach before getting back to base in Orlando early.
As stated before, prepping for the trip always comes first so the day before has Clinton & I driving our friends Nick & Megan to Orlando in the morning to fly home to Indiana. I knew this day would be busy for us so we stopped by Trader Joe’s while we were in Orlando so I could grab some salads & some pre-made TJ’s goodies. I’m currently in a mega food rut and I’m sick of all the stuff I usually prep (maybe another post for another day) and I just wanted some different things in my bag!
Clinton & I had lunch in Orlando and made our way home for all my pre-trip rituals minus meal prepping now. Because the temperatures in our layover destinations in this trip were much milder than our usual frigid spots, I got to pack lighter clothes & ditch my heavy coat. Thank goodness because my poor bags have had enough of me trying to shove heavy winter stuff in them. I’ve been flying nearly 5 years now and can’t pack for shit. I’m very organized but I never have exactly what I need. For instance, on this trip I had no socks. So in turn, I couldn’t wear my sneakers the whole trip & only wore flip flops.
Anyways, I actually cooked this night because I have been craving this pizza that I make and it doesn’t take much to throw it all together. I pulled a very risky move for someone who had to wake up at 2:30 AM & decided to stay up and watch the season 2 finale of “Euphoria” (RIP Ash Tray) so that put me at about 4 hours of sleep. Shockingly though, I wake up fine. I’m pretty much a zombie who has learned to function through the days.
2:30 comes quickly. I get ready, kiss both my babies, and head over to Karren’s. Insert the 1 hour drive to MCO.
This trip I will not be flying lead. I’ve been “up front” for the majority of February and I just don’t want to for a while. I get so burnt out being up there sometimes. So today, I chose to fly the C position & will be predominantly in the back of the plane aside from snack & beverage service, trash walks, compliance/seatbelt checks, etc. Karren chose B which puts Wendy as our lead for this trip.
We’re on an A321 today which means we will have 2 additional flight attendants with us but they’re based elsewhere so they’ll be coming in from their hotel and we will meet them at the aircraft. Today’s day 1 is simple – 2 legs. First leg is Orlando to Newark, second leg is Newark to New Orleans. We have a 17 hour layover in NOLA aaaaaaand it’s Mardi Gras so we already know our plans for the evening.
It’s terrible but I can’t even remember our flights so I’m sure they went well. Actually you know what? I do remember something. On the leg going to New Orleans I had a man WAVE ME AWAY as if dismissing me from his presence because I simply asked him to have his mask on. Rude.
We get to NOLA & walk to the hotel shuttle pick up area. We’re all very excited because for our first night we’re staying downtown! The other 2 gals had stayed at that hotel before but I hadn’t so I was super excited. I LOVE getting a hotel in a good location that you can walk places from! So many of our hotels are located near the airports (obviously) so having some convenience to enjoy the layover without getting an Uber or something is awesome. This hotel (all hotels that crews stay in shall remain nameless on the blog for safety reasons) was absolutely gorgeous.
During check-in at the front desk, something funny happened –
“Are you Ms. M*****?” – employee (he used my last name which I am so ashamed of, it’s my dickbag ex-husband’s last name & I never changed it out of sheer convenience for work)
“…Yes” – me, wondering how he knew that
“I know you!” – employee
“What?!” – me, knowing I’ve never stayed in this damn hotel before so whatchu talkin’ ‘bout Willis?
“I know you! *he looks at Karren and Wendy* I haven’t seen this young lady in 15 or 16 years! This young lady saved my life once! You don’t remember me?! Ohhh I’m ‘bout to embarrass you good! *pulls his mask down* you don’t recognize me?!” – employee
“…no” – me
He then proceeds to tell us a story about riding a horse, complete with him getting choked up and tears coming out of his eyes. I’m standing there gobsmacked & wracking my brain for memories of the time I saved someone’s life in New Orleans while they were horseback riding!
Finally this man bursts out laughing & says he saw my name on my badge & decided to have some fun with me! He totally got me!
Since this was the last day before actual Mardi Gras day, we knew we had to go out. Wendy has friends in New Orleans & is pretty knowledgeable about the parades and whatnot and she wanted to go watch the Orpheus parade later. Orpheus looked so fun & had some celebrities on the floats like Harry Connick Jr, Nicole Scherzinger from Pussycat Dolls, & the actor who plays Loras on Game of Thrones! We got changed and started our journey, first stopping into a restaurant named Johnny Sanchez. It’s owned by chef Aaron Sanchez (I’ma big Food Network nerd & recognized his name immediately) & we decided to go in when Wendy spotted King Cake Tres Leches cake in the menu. They had a small but nicely priced Happy Hour menu so we ordered some queso, tacos, and I ordered a delicious (however quite sweet) King Cake Milk Punch. Wendy’s cake was absolutely delicious! Everything was really good & quite cheap – My 2 tacos & cocktail was only $13 before tip.
We then walked to a nearby bar called VooDoo Two. It was nearly empty and the bartender somehow talked us into 32 oz drinks to take with us to the parade. I’m just gonna blame it on her New Orleans accent. I’m a sucker for that accent.
We took our drinks (in my case, my 32 oz cup of rum) & made our way to Saint Charles street to set up for the parade. Proteus krewe was coming out first and by the time they got to where we were standing it was well over an hour later. Karren went back to the hotel room because it was chilly out but Wendy and I stayed to watch.
At this point, most of the evening became about the misadventures of my phone –
“Guys my phone is gone. MY PHONE IS GONE” – me
“SHUT UP” – Wendy
“No fucking way” – Karren
*pats all my pockets, opens my purse, pats my chest*
“OH THANK GOD IT’S IN MY TITTIES!!!!” – me
That last line would go onto being the slogan of our whole trip. It was said…oh, I don’t know. Often. And a lot. And probably only that one time was it said by me!
During the parade my phone fell out of my bra twice as I was trying to catch stuff from the parade floats. The second time it fell into a freaking drain while I was trying to grab a cup (A CUP!!! I have a million cups at home! But I just haaaad to have this cup) that one of the floats was throwing out. If you know ANYTHING about New Orleans at all it’s that I should have thrown the whole damn phone away after that but I could see a few inches of my phone sticking out so I knew I could reach down and retrieve it. I screamed out “WENDY!! DON’T MOVE!!” as if she was a threat that would somehow make the phone continue into the drain and into the hands of Pennywise. I promptly put it into my purse and did not touch it again till I got to my room where I could clean it.
“Wendy I swear if my phone went in that drain…I’d walk into oncoming traffic” – me
We tried our damndest with each passing float to catch beads and the other goodies but just didn’t have a lot of luck. Every float that went by I’d look to Wendy and say “JUST ONE MORE!!” and we’d wave and yell and get nothin’!! We had an early morning so made our way back to the hotel when Wendy found a massive pile of beads draped over a fence.
“I want them. Give those to me” I said.
Famous last words of someone who later compared carrying those beads to lugging a toddler around. They were so heavy! I kept dropping things but couldn’t bend over to pick them up because then I’d drop more! Luckily, Wendy or a kind stranger was always around to hand me my stolen street beads. I went to my room and dumped all my beads out and sprayed them with spray sanitizer. Look. I love New Orleans very much…but it is an absolutely disgusting city!! And I felt that way pre-Covid too. One of the first bits of advice I learned for NOLA was to never, ever step in a puddle. Noted.
First came clean up, then came some sleep. The next day we were working a San Pedro Sula turn out of New Orleans so we’d be back.
The SAP turn went very well & we were back to NOLA in what felt like no time. Clearing customs was shockingly a breeze too, thankfully. We stayed in a different hotel this night which was a huge bummer because it was Fat Tuesday & we wanted to be downtown again!! Honestly, I think the airline planned it that way (haha) to keep us out of trouble (kidding of course)
We met some pilots that work for our airline on the shuttle to the hotel & the Captain decided he’d like to go get food with us. We all went to change and put on our beads (I gave the Captain a strand of beads from my previous night’s finds so he could fit in with us) and walked to Louisiana Purchase Kitchen, a Cajun restaurant Karren has been raving over. Closed. We walked to Tavern on Vets. Closed. We walked to Joe’s Daiquiris…aaaaaaand CLOSED. Everything was closed for Mardi Gras! We passed a lovely British couple that recommended a bar across the street called 3rd Rock Tavern so that’s where we ended up. As soon as we walked in my attention was drawn to this old lady, obviously hammered drunk & parading around the bar – after about 2 minutes, she fell & smacked her head on the floor. The bartender was more concerned with what we were ordering. That bartender has probably seen some shit in her life.
For dinner we ate at a Mexican restaurant across the street, mostly because it was one of the few places actually still open. We had so much fun that day! We had the Captain as well as our chaser that day, Dana, with us. The dynamic was just there. We laughed so much! Most of the time at my expense. Afterwards, we met up at hotel pool where the other pilot was. The Captain kept trying to bet me money to go jump into the -very cold- pool but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it so I was a big ol’ wuss. Even when he pulled out $150. Actually if he’d have put his money where his mouth is and jumped in with me I maybe would have done it.
As usual it was early to bed, early to rise. The next day we had a showtime of 0440 so I was up at 0330 getting ready with bleary eyes & hoping like heck that I looked halfway decent. We worked a flight to Boston and then had a deadhead to Myrtle Beach. We love us a good deadhead (flying as a passenger but being paid for duty) & even managed to doze off just a little bit. I hadn’t been to Myrtle Beach since I got stuck there during irregular operations last year and was there for a week! However, the hotel we stay at there was so nice to me (as was the airport staff) that I actually still love going there.
At this point in the trip, I was exhausted. I had no desire to really go out anymore so I changed into my swimsuit and hung out at the pool alone for a little while which was so nice. I love my alone time (as stated in my last post) but did end up meeting up with my girls at 4 to go have an early, light dinner at Beach Bummz down the street. It was just an okay dinner & I get annoyed at the fact I sometimes spend money on mediocre food. However, Bummz is right on the beach & it was a gorgeous day (the whole trip was gorgeous!) so the setting makes up for the food.
We crashed super early that night for our 4th early showtime but y’all should know the drill by now – day 4 is go home day! I barely wore any makeup & wore my hair in a bun. We had one super short flight to Orlando that went absolutely perfect & made our way home.
I laid in bed once I got home & hung out with Emma. Later that evening, Clinton took me to dinner & we rode down to a little beach access point and sat by the water for a little while. It was just one of those beautiful Florida evenings. I’m off for 6 days now and I’m so looking forward to it.
Next month I won’t be with my girls as we bid for separate schedules instead of together and I’ll miss them terribly! However, if you know me at all, you know I’ll still be out and about adventuring on my layovers!
Before I became a flight attendant I know for a fact I never paid them any mind when I would fly. I’m not really sure why. Okay, actually I do. I’d be the asshole who would come onboard, not make eye contact when they would greet me, go to my seat, ear buds in, and I’d knock out til I got to my destination, only waking for my small cup of water & Biscoff cookies. I would fly a few times a year for vacations and it never crossed my mind how bizarre the life of a flight attendant could be. I think that’s why I never considered it as a career choice for me.
However, one thing I’ve learned since doing this is that a lot of people are very curious about how we live & how work ,well, works.
So come along with me on a trip! This one covers Super Bowl Sunday & Valentine’s Day so it was a pretty good one!
For me, a trip really starts the day before when I prep everything. I start off with laundry, then either grocery shop or meal prep, clean out my bags (I usually carry 2, sometimes 3 different pieces of luggage), wipe out my lunchbox with cleaner, and then repack each bag with either what I’m planning on eating or fresh laundry.
I don’t do much besides prep the day before a trip – ESPECIALLY if I have an early report time which this specific trip I do. Our report time is 0450. Which means I will get to the airport an hour early at 0350 because that’s how I do things (late is never acceptable, it’s even less so in aviation where for every single minute a flight is delayed, the airline is fined) so since I live an hour from the airport that has me leaving my house at 0250 which has me waking up to start getting ready at 0130. Yes, you read that right. 1:30 in the damn morning…or night, depending on how you look at it. So yeah, I don’t go out aside from grocery shopping & I also don’t cook on pre-trip days. Clinton handles that for me. He also cooks for me on days I get home from trips because I am exhausted. I am very spoiled.
Okay back on track. For this specific trip I’m heading to bed at 6 PM because if I don’t get sleep I’m a raging bitch – mostly to my buddy bidder Karren who chooses our bids/trips so I feel it’s only acceptable to take it out on her. I take half a Benadryl to help me sleep (do as I say folks, not as I do) & I’m out til 1:30 when I wake up in a shockingly good mood. I still think it’s bullshit but I’m okay. Karren won’t have to hear me run my mouth today.
I’m dressed, my makeup is on, my hair looks like shit but it usually does, and all my bags are ready. I kiss my sweet Emma 27,568 times and tell her I love her and to be a good baby for her dad and I give Clinton his goodbye kisses (both of them are very groggy) and tell him I love him and to take good care of my baby and I leave. Karren and I carpool as we live in the same neighborhood so I drive a few streets over and pick her up.
An hour later, we are pulling into the employee parking lot at MCO and catching the shuttle to the airport. Once at the airport, we go to our crew room to check in. We triple buddy bid this month so we are also with our friend Wendy. We all 3 graduated our training together in 2017, have a lot of fun together, & work together well. Of the 3 of us, my employee number is the most senior so that means when choosing what position we want to fly, I get first choice.
Wendy and I take turns flying “lead” (or “A”) – she was lead on our last trip so it’s mine again for this trip. Which is okay by me really, I’m a good lead. I also like making a little extra money (lead FA makes an additional $2.25 per flight hour). Karren chooses next & she chose C (my personal favorite position to fly). Wendy will be B.
After checking in, we sign in as well on a sign in sheet. As lead I choose a safety topic to discuss to which I chose crew communication & de-escalation of events. If you’ve been living under a rock the last 2 years, there’s been a rise in crazy things happening on flights & people assaulting and harassing the flight attendants so de-escalation is huge with me. I don’t want to be viral on someone’s TikTok video! Also as lead, I will then check my crew’s passports, make sure they have all their required items, and check to make sure their iPads are up-to-date, synced, and fully charged. After all the business is over, we exchange Valentine’s gifts! V-day isn’t for 2 more days but I’m not carrying these goodie bags with me the whole time, no sir. These 2 ladies were my Valentines last year as well! I always like to do fun things for the crew on Valentine’s Day (one of very few holidays I will work) – one year it was pink cake pops from Starbucks, last year it was cookies from The Glass Knife bakery in Winter Park. This year it’s chocolates & an assortment of pink mini bottles of booze as I didn’t have a lot of time to shop around.
So here’s a little bit about the trip itself. It’s a 4 day trip with only one flight on day 1, three on day 2, one on day 3, and one on day 4. Extremely simple even though day 2 will suck. We have long layovers in Cleveland and San Juan. We have a short layover on day 2 in Tampa (go figure, the longest day with the shortest rest)
Day 1, we are off to Cleveland. We make our way to KCM (crew security) and onto the gate. The gate agents will check our badges and give me paperwork regarding the flight. This paperwork tells me how full the flight is, if we have any guests needing wheelchairs, special accommodations, babies, pets, etc. I relay this information to my crew. Once we’re down the jet bridge and enter the aircraft we’d have a quick few moments to do our safety checks in our compliance areas. After that I move onto getting things ready for our pilots – I grab them each some water, a trash bag, and I write all of our names on a piece of paper and what positions we’re flying for them to reference when needed. I tell the gate agent if we need anything like ice or extra masks. My iPad gets set up for snack and drink service later & around this time the gate agent is usually asking “y’all ready to board?”
Boarding is ,honest to God, my least favorite part of any flight. Why? We don’t get paid and we probably work the hardest during this time. Yes, you read that right – flight attendants do NOT get paid their hourly rate to board (or deplane). Another post for another day!
The flight to Cleveland is smooth, beautiful sailing. We have a chaser on this flight with us named Louis who is very nice & we sit up front and talk about our dogs and his kids. He is laying over with us but flying home to Orlando in the morning while we continue on for 3 more days. Once in Cleveland, we catch our hotel shuttle (who was already there & waiting on us! Score!) & get to the hotel.
My “get-to-the-hotel” routine is down to a science – get to the room, check for murderers & bed bugs, get naked, wash my hands & face, put any food that needs refrigerated in the fridge, unpack whatever I plan to wear or use, spritz my luggage down with rubbing alcohol, charge my iPad for work, and then change clothes to start my layover activities whatever they may be. This is every trip, every day. If I go out on my layovers I also spritz my clothes and shoes with alcohol when I am back in the room. Other notables – always a hot shower, always skin care, always FaceTime my man, and always check my alarms for the following morning approx. 200 times.
We decided on our last trip that we want to go out in Cleveland even though it is blue balls cold outside & snowing. I have had my mind set on the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame for years & for whatever reason, still haven’t been. I go out on most of my layovers unless they are short or in boring cities. Often times I go out alone because then I can do exactly what I want – a luxury unlike any other for me. I have wasted many a good layover going out with crew whom I just don’t click with or something like making me pay for the expensive Uber because they “don’t have that app” & then magically didn’t have any cash on them or a money transfer app either to help at all. Plus, as a Virgo, I love my alone time.
However, I have my girls with me on this trip. We have 20 hours in Cleveland & we got in super early that morning so we have all day for exploring. And for whatever reason they left the decision up to me and I went with the mother freakin’ Christmas Story house instead of the R&R HOF. I’m still kicking myself. Don’t get me wrong, I’m fine with A Christmas Story & it was very cute but I think it would have been more fun to go at Christmas time! However, I got to hold up the leg lamp and say “fra-gee-lay!” and “it’s a major award!” I really did enjoy it and the reason I chose it was because it was only $15 as opposed to the $30 + Uber/Lyft cost for the Hall of Fame. Whatever, for me I’m always down for new experiences. I am NOT a “stay at the hotel the whole time” kinda girl. I think it’s vital to my sanity to explore my surroundings. Karren booked our ride back to the hotel but we ended up getting dropped off at a Chili’s for lunch & we just walked back to the hotel from there. Typically we don’t do a lot of chain restaurants but for a cheap drink & some appetizers it worked. Once we got back to the hotel I wouldn’t see them again until the next morning as we had an early showtime & needed the sleep.
The next day was a long, ridiculous shit show. Our day was Cleveland to Tampa, Tampa to Manchester (NH), then Manchester back to Tampa for the night. Leaving Cleveland we were delayed because our water tank was frozen. In turn we had no water for the first flight. It was 43 degrees when we got onboard to do our checks and it was so cold my toes were hurting! Our second flight had a medical emergency that consumed the entire flight. Our third flight was fine but we were all so tired & just ready to get to our hotel so we could try and watch the Super Bowl (or for me – The Dr. Dre & co. concert!)
Three leg days are hard. Anything beyond 3 flights (because I’ve seen it go up to 5 on some trips!) I won’t do. I’ll drop trips if they include a 4 or 5 leg day. The constant compressing and decompressing on your body is hard. People don’t realize that. I love to fly but honestly, being a flight attendant is the worst thing I’ve ever done to my body. I couldn’t wait for this day to be over – especially that middle flight. Lordt.
As soon as we sat down on the shuttle I ordered food to have delivered for us at the hotel, Wendy went in halfers, and Karren had packed enough appetizers and snacks in her bag that she could have fed us for 2 trips! We ran to our rooms, I showered and rushed through my hotel routine, and we all piled up in the lobby to watch the game & stuff our faces.
We only had an 11 hour layover and we’d already used up some of that with the game so sleep was needed. Luckily, the next day was only one simple flight to San Juan, Puerto Rico. Happy Valentine’s Day to us!
Puerto Rico will probably get it’s own post one day because I cannot express here how much I love it. Everything about it makes me happy! And I’ve never had a bad flight to Puerto Rico (I did have a man ask when I was due with my baby -I wasn’t pregnant- on a flight to San Juan once which dampened my mood but that’s not PR’s fault, that’s just poor taste!) – I trust Puerto Rico. They behave for me.
Our flight was perfect, as expected. We got in early and to our hotel early. It was sunny and hot and perfect. We all got changed and took a ride to Isla Verde for our Galentine’s Day brunch at Bistro Cafe. Wendy had been there once before but we’ve literally been dreaming of going there together for close to a year! The food is decadent whether it’s something sweet or savory. The drinks are gorgeous and colorful. Bistro Cafe was the cutest little spot for Galentine’s Day! Each room has a different theme & while I wanted the flamingo room, it was so busy and with a 45 minute wait I was glad to just get in. It’s a bit on the pricey side but usually I’m eating lunchbox food so this trip was kind of a splurge for me! Usually I eat out once on every trip (usually in foodie cities) & stick to my meal prep for my inflight meals and short layover meals. I had the most amazing chorizo omelette & coconut French toast washed down with a couple different mimosas. Heavenly. Chef’s kiss.
Back at the hotel we still had a few good hours left so we changed into swimwear and went upstairs to the rooftop pool and hot tub. We enjoyed more of our V-day treats & I was just happy to be in the sunshine. It’s been so cold everywhere we’ve been (even our Tampa layover was chilly) so being able to let the sun beam on me felt great. I don’t do well in cold areas…it’s just so depressing. I swear, if I ever move again outside of Florida, I’m going to Puerto Rico. And that’s facts.
As usual it was early to bed, early to rise. Our showtime on day 4 aka “go home day” was 5 AM so we left the hotel at 4:25 that morning. Another day of waking up at 3 in the dang morning. But on go home day everything feels easier! One simple flight from San Juan to Orlando & we will be home! I was home by 9:30 that morning. Early showtimes kill me because I’m not a morning person at all but I love getting the day over with early!
Going home for me looks like this – if Clinton is home, he brings Emma out to meet me at the car. She jumps in my lap while I’m still inside the car and smothers me in Emma kisses & she literally whimpers when she sees me. It melts me. Clinton also greets me with a bunch of kisses before taking all of my luggage in for me. I go inside and immediately strip my uniform dress and hosiery off and purge myself of anything reeking of “airplane”…while I do this, Clinton unpacks my lunchbox for me and puts away my ice packs and any cold stuff I may still have. At this point I’m flopping into bed with Emma and just hold her for a few minutes. If it’s early, I usually fall asleep right about now, but this morning was different. Clinton took me for breakfast at C’s Waffles in New Smyrna. We took Emma to the park for a long walk, he started orientation for his new job that day, and while he was gone doing that, I attempted watching some episodes of “Euphoria” THEN fell asleep on the couch with Emma snoring on my lap.
My second Florida home…it’s a complex relationship but man is it a good time!
“You are going to LOVE living in Fort Lauderdale…South Florida is its own world!” – lady I worked with at Bealls before I left for Lauderdale.
She was at least right about one thing…it is a whole ‘notha world down there!
I both loved and loathed living in South Florida. Since this is a “series” about my love for places, I’m leaving out the loathing. I wrote in 2020 in a post that when I visit Fort Lauderdale on layovers, that I get anxiety. Why? First, it reminds me of getting my job. Which was a wonderful thing for me but everything was so new and scary…and the stress of training was immense. Second, it reminds me of when things were shit between Clinton & I. Such shit that we broke up for a few months. Third, it reminds me of his accident. So yeah. A lot went down in SoFlo.
Happily though, all that anxiety has sorta dissipated. Our relationship has been the healthiest either of us has ever experienced the last 3 years, his recovery has been beautiful, and I’m senior enough in my job now that I don’t feel like a scared newbie anymore. Over time everything has just sorta cleared up so I can go back to enjoying the things I know I genuinely loved about SoFlo.
Here’s a brief (not brief at all haha) timeline of my time in Fort Lauderdale & eventually, Boca Raton.
I started training for my job in August (training in FLL was cut short due to Hurricane Irma so the airline evacuated us out to our training center in Vegas) & when we came back to Florida I was freaking out because I hadn’t been able to check on crash pads because I’d been in Vegas for weeks! I had no place to stay and it was time for me to start my first block of reserve days so on my drive from Daytona to FLL, I assumed I’d stay in a hotel or even the crew room at the airport until I had something set in stone. I hadn’t even made it halfway when Fina, my roommate from training & “wifey”, called me to tell me she found us a crash pad!
“Is it nice?” I asked“Oh it’s a beautiful home! Nice lady runs it too. 5 minutes from the airport! $300 a month. You know I wouldn’t do you wrong wifey!” she told me
So I went to the house as soon as I was in Fort Lauderdale. It was ran by an older lady who’s daughter worked for an airline & apparently told her she could make bank running a crash pad for flight attendants so she’d done tons of work to her home to house plenty of people. I was the 3rd person to move in. Eventually there would be 10 of us but it was okay because 8 of us had just graduated training together & were already friends! I went that day & took out $600 – my $300 deposit and my $300 first month’s payment. It WAS a nice home! Completely remodeled & even had a hot tub we were allowed to use. The lady who ran it was very sweet, albeit a bit odd. I’ve always thought maybe she expected more of a camaraderie out of us with her instead of a “hey we’re tired, we’ve been working, please leave us alone to eat, shower, sleep, etc” I definitely think she expected friendship and that wasn’t what she was going to get out of a bunch of 20 & early 30 year olds.
Anyways, after paying her & securing my bunk (yes, bunk) I went to Walmart and bought a cheap set of sheets, a twin sized bed-in-a-bag set, & some groceries for my little shelf in the fridge. This would be my new home away from home along with countless layover hotels. More and more of the girls started to move in. Luckily I had my car with me so anytime it felt a bit crowded I’d venture off somewhere! A girl likes her space ya know.
However, I did love spending time with my roommates. I loved getting in early from trips & seeing who was currently at the house – we’d load up & go to the beach. It didn’t matter which one! Fort Lauderdale beach had the best bars & restaurants, Dania had the Quarterdeck, and Hollywood was just nice. We would stop by Publix & grab Pub subs & fruit bowls from the deli and have beach picnics. The crash pad owner hosted Thanksgiving for us that year & we each made something for dinner. We invited our friends from another crash pad to come over & they brought stuff too & as cheesy as it may sound, it genuinely did feel like being with family! Afterwards, my friend Amber & I even went Thanksgiving/Black Friday shopping at Sawgrass Mills. My friend (& the person who slept in the bunk above me) Angeles & I wanted to start using our flight benefits so we decided one day when we were off to wake up early & fly to New Orleans just to have lunch & fly back that evening so that’s exactly what we did! Actually, we had went out the night before & ended up oversleeping & had to take a different flight to NOLA but we still made it work. We still got our precious hand grenades & beignets! My good friend Lindsey & I both got in from a trip early on New Year’s Eve so we decided to Uber to Miami. We started in Wynwood & ended up at a Pitbull concert. I could give a rat’s ass about Pitbull but it was fun & free! I look back now KNOWING it was a damn good time but I’m also like “we didn’t get in til 4 AM & both of us had trips that day!” Something my old ass could certainly not pull off nowadays. I am permanently exhausted.
A few months into crash pad living, I had 2 “moveable” days off. I wasn’t in the mood to drive all the way up to Daytona for only 2 days but I also wasn’t in the mood to stay at the crash pad so I looked on an app that lists discounted hotels for airline crew & found a Wyndham in Boca that was close to Boca Town Center. It was discounted pretty cheaply so I booked myself a room & was going to make a little getaway of it. I love Boca’s mall so I thought I’d shop, hang by the hotel pool, and relax in the quiet. That’s exactly what I did…but something big was in the works. Like, out there in the universe.
I was on dating apps, like every other single person in the world. However, I was over it. I’d been casually dating (but overall enjoying) a guy for about 3 months who up and ghosted me & I was pissed off about it. I’d also made at least 2 poor life decisions after him & just thought I should take a little break so I wasn’t active on the app. However, my little weekend away in Boca threw me in the search radius for that area and the day I returned to the crash pad, I was hanging out with one of the roomies and I got a Snapchat follow. Ah yes, my social media handles were listed on my Tinder profile so I got random adds and follows all the time. Oh well, homie’s probably a freak and I’ll block him. Then came a message. I was all set for it to be like “let’s fuck” (sorry parents) or an unsolicited dick pic but instead it was this : “This may be a long shot but I’d like to get to know you” Okay. Not creepy. I was also drinking these little sangria pouches that clearly altered my thinking so I replied : “Alright. Get to know me then”
NOT KNOWING A DAMN THING ABOUT THIS MAN. I didn’t even know his first name (his Snapchat name was…wait for it…”NIGHTMARE”!!!) or what he looked like (he sent me a selfie shortly after that) but yep…”get to know me then”
We talked all day. Literally all day. He asked if I wanted to meet him for a drink that night & I said no. He kept asking…finally, I had just tell him “my bra is off for the night & I’ve been drinkin’ all day so, no. I’m not meeting up with you tonight” – he got the point! We went on our first date 4 days later. My roommates did my makeup for the date & when I almost bailed on him because I was convinced he’d be disappointed when he met me, one of them sat me down and convinced me not to. He owes our relationship to her not once, but twice. He took me to Rustic Inn in Fort Lauderdale for some bomb crab. I didn’t know how to crack crab so he taught me & didn’t make me feel stupid. I had butter and crab juice running down both arms and was wearing a plastic bib so there were no pretenses from the start – look bud, I’m a mess, if you date me this is what you get. We had such a good time at dinner that we wanted to keep the date going & so we went to the beach. It was the perfect first date.
4 months later, he asked me to move in with him. Once again, not sure what I was thinking but I said yes. I do not make such serious decisions like that! One of his best friends from Indiana was moving down to Florida and we were all going to be living together. They brought me in as a way to get me out of the crash pad which was becoming a hell hole daily & I continued to pay them my $300 in a way to help with the rent. We found a gorgeous luxury apartment in a fantastic part of Boca, right on the Delray line & only about 2-3 miles from the beach. It was gorgeous & looked like a resort & everything should have been perfect. But it wasn’t. It was shit. Everything went to shit.
But I’m not here to talk about the shit. I’m here to talk about going to our beach at midnight when the moon was full & so bright that even in the dark you could see clear through the water. Riding motorcycles up and down A1A – all the way up to Palm Beach & down to Lauderdale. Riding by the gorgeous, insanely expensive homes that dot A1A. Hanging by our pool & seeing the giant iguanas crawling up the palm trees & just kinda co-existing with our weird little tropical neighbors. Boca made me feel bougie. It was too rich for me. Too rich and too damn yankee! We 3 were way too broke to be Boca Bitches. But it was nice at the time, for a time.
My time in SoFlo was coming to a close. My airline announced -finally- that they would be making Orlando a base & would be accepting transfers so I put in a request to go. I was approved a few days later. I was going home. It was one of my best decisions, north and central Florida just feels more like home to me. The remainder of my time in Laudy was spent at the Red Carpet Inn with my Karren. She’d left her crash pad many moons ago in favor of just spending a night or 2 at a hotel that offered a crew discount until crew scheduling assigned her a trip (the joys of being on reserve) & of course, I’d left my relationship & an expensive apartment. Believe me, the peace & quiet alone was worth it. The Red Carpet was 2 star at best but they treated us very 4 star! Darron at the front desk was always so good to us. We would split the cost of a room if we were both in town & if not, we’d be on our own. Karren introduced me to some of my favorite Lauderdale restaurants during this time – Pirates Republic, Padrinos, and The Field. We’d shop, eat, drink wine, & she’d listen to me go on and on about Clinton. It’s 2022 & I be doin’ the same exact shit only less sad. She’s a good egg, my Karren.
I could never live there again…too much happened. Also, I’m poor. And driving in that area takes a special kind of bravery that I don’t have. Also, don’t forget the constant swamp ass you’ll have because it’s so hot all the time. It simply wasn’t for me & that’s fine. But I’ll always be grateful for that area for gifting me my friends, the love of my life, my job, & my love for Cuban food.
*I would have loved to have shared more photos from the crash pad days but I didn’t feel comfortable sharing old friend’s photos on my blog without their permission (some have since left the airline & I do not have their contact information to ask)
Next up in my travel series is a 2 parter. A love letter to the state I am blessed enough to call home. Divided into sections about areas that mean the most to me…I present first, Daytona Beach.
Daytona Beach. How I love thee. It may not be the prettiest beach or the nicest beach but by God, it’s the World’s Most Famous Beach.
And I love it.
While my official roots have been put down in a neighboring beach town, they were planted in Daytona originally. As we’re all familiar with by now, I came to Florida in 2017. I was blessed enough to score a brilliant deal on a beachside condo (referenced in other posts) & while I knew it wouldn’t be home forever (for reasons also listed in previous posts), my beloved musty scented condo by the beach was a great starter home for a young, pretty, single girl.
It started back in Alabama. I was in Hoover doing job training when my aunt called my phone back to back. I couldn’t answer but panicked thinking it may be something about my MawMaw. I tried calling back when I could but got no answer so I was anxious all day. Later that evening when I was home, my dad called me & was excited – “Jake found you a condo! It’s on the beach!” I told him “that’s great daddy but I’ve been looking at beachside properties & I’m just not going to be able to afford anything like that” & to that he responded “well now hear me out! It’s fully furnished, water & cable included in the rent…it’s $900 a month” to which I simply responded with “I’ll take it”
I called the next day & said I wanted it. The man handling the renting of the unit sent me some photos & I cut him a check. I would get the keys Valentine’s Day (except I didn’t get them till the 15th) & I looked at that as a Valentine’s gift to myself. I had never bought myself something so nice before.
I had been coming to Daytona my whole life. Both my aunts lived there so I’d been coming since I was a little girl and stopped when I was about 16. I came again in 2009 and didn’t come back until 2016. I had been cruising a lot back then so I got my beach fill with that I guess. The 2016 visit was so wonderful though! We came to visit The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando but stayed in Daytona. I enjoyed seeing my family & being back in Florida. We ended up having so much fun that every day we were supposed to leave, we just couldn’t bring ourselves to do it so we just kept extending our stay day by day until finally we HAD to get back to Alabama! I have always felt that visit prepared me for days to come, days I didn’t ever know were coming – a sort of sign that Florida was my only logical choice of where to live when the dust settled. It has been the best choice I’ve ever made. It has been so good to me over the last 5 years. It has restored my relationships with my family who I never saw & had pretty much given up on – especially my daddy. He told me one day a couple years ago that he believed for a while that we’d lost each other & while I’ve had quite a rocky time with my dad ,oh, over the span of my whole life I never want to lose him. Literally or figuratively. Living here has also restored my soul, which for a long time was beaten, bruised, and battered.
I look back over our history together, me and Daytona. It makes me smile. My childhood summer vacations & the occasional Christmas vacation, spent going to the beach. Usually with just my mom because no one else in my family really goes to the beach! Which still holds true & drives me insane because what is the point of living by the beach if you don’t enjoy the beach?! Madness, I tell you! Sometimes my dad would come along & sometimes we’d venture off further. I remember they took me to Cocoa Beach once & they told me that’s where the genie bottle was found in “I Dream of Jeannie” so of course, I believed it to be true & thought I could possibly find one too! Usually though, my dad was busy being a typical Florida Man & found himself in trouble! We’d been to the Kennedy Space Center to see the rockets, Melbourne to see MawMaw’s sister (my great aunt), St Augustine, etc. I remember coming without my parents at all occasionally – my Aunt Patty paid for my first flight ever. Lexington to Atlanta, Atlanta to Sanford. I stayed 2 weeks and flew back to Charlotte ALONE for the first time at 15 years old. I was with MawMaw Rose when I was 8 & experienced my first hurricane. We were down for the summer & Hurricane Bertha blew in. My aunt lived beachside at the time so it was safer to go farther inland so we went to my -now- uncle’s house. He was out of town & they were just dating at the time & none of us had even met him but I remember thinking his house was the most beautiful home I’d ever been in (their house is still amazing). Coming back years later, I got to be the hostess to my friends and family. My first Bike Week resulted in my former best friend and I getting locked out of my condo at 1 AM. She was barefoot. We had to stay at my aunts because no one at the condo building would answer their phones to let us in. I Googled “how to break in somewhere” while she laid in the floor of the lobby and pet Emma. The next morning she called and cancelled her credit card because she thought she lost it at one of the biker bars & I found it in my bathroom trash later that day. It was really something. In our defense, we also did normal stuff like go to Disney & had a beach day. Another friend came down for a weekend that resulted in my nipples getting pierced. Also, in our defense we did normal stuff too & went to Cassadaga & shopped the outlet malls. It was just this constant wild ride for me because I never got to do anything while I was married. Being single by the beach was a weird kind of magic. I had so much fun. Every day was a new adventure. It still feels that way actually, but calmer.
This particular area of Florida may not be everyone’s cup of tea. Daytona is certainly not Miami, Palm Beach, or the Keys. It’s lost a lot of it’s popularity from the 90s when it was all about MTV’s Spring Break & cheer competitions but it’s still a good time with the NASCAR & biker crowd. I like to think it’s on the come up again though, they’re always putting in new shops & restaurants but I truly wish they’d focus on the beach area. Put in some new, luxury resorts or something! But anyways. It has meant so much to me being able to call this part of Florida home. It is my cup of tea. I’ve been seeing a meme circulating on Facebook lately that says “my toxic trait is believing that moving to Florida will solve all my problems” & I’m like, “why can’t it?”
Lately all I can think of is writing. I’m not good at a lot of things but that’s not true with writing. Travel is so important to me & I had an idea while on my last trip – I want to write about the places I go but not in a “Flight Attendant Blog 10 Things You Must Do While In…..” influencer bullshit kind of blog. I am best with stories. I want to start sharing why certain places are important to me & why I love them, in hopes that this inspires people to travel, broaden their horizons, & feel love for new places & experiences. First up is my first love…Chicago.
It’s 2011 & I’m about 2 months shy of moving to Atlanta. I have mentally prepared myself for this shitshow – my ex husband accepted a management position with Norfolk Southern railway that he was currently in the process of training for & at the end of his training, we would move to the A. The mental preparing was for the fact that we were going to be living with one of his distant cousins who had about 12 dogs (seriously) – I was so nervous. Emma was going to hate this & quite frankly, I was going to hate it too. I love dogs but the idea of that many in one home just completely turned me off. It was a lovely offer but…no. But to save money, he had accepted her offer.
It’s November & while he’s wrapping up his training (working in a different city for a week at a time) I’m staying in West Virginia with his parents. One night I get a call from him while he’s in a car full of people and he says to me – “So I have some news” “Oh yeah? What’s up?” “Well I just got a phone call & ,well, they need men in Chicago so they’re pulling me out of the program early to start work” “CHICAGO?! What am I supposed to do in Chicago?!” (Wow, I was self centered but I remember actually saying this) -the people in the car are cracking up because clearly I had to be on speaker phone so everyone could hear my reaction- “………freeze”* (this was said by my ex mother in law who was listening from across the room)
I knew nothing of Chicago. At this point I only had experience with 2 cities – Charlotte and Atlanta. Charlotte, of course, being a very small city and Atlanta ,while big, is Southern so I could still relate. However, I was a small town girl who ,to this day, does not understand the romanticizing of small town life and had always dreamed of living in a big city. I worshipped at the feet of Carrie Bradshaw & hoped one day my life could be like hers. So while Chicago is certainly no New York, it’s still a magnificent city & after about 3 days, my shock wore off & turned to excitement. He was going up first & I would eventually head up which also infuriated me because as a total spoiled brat – I wanted to go NOW too! But eventually I made it…to Hammond, Indiana.
We stayed at a Hilton Garden Inn right off the interstate next to a Welcome Center & a Cracker Barrel. Not exactly the glamorous welcome I was expecting but oh well, my time would come. Finally after 2 weeks, my ex took me to the East Chicago train station and we went to the city together – it’s been so long now that I don’t really remember my first impressions anymore. I know I enjoyed it but I also remember being cold & it was very windy. I remember that we had Chicago style pizza at Gino’s East (and with time comes knowledge – there are FAR better pizza places than Gino’s in Chicago, most of which don’t even serve Chicago style pizza!) I don’t recall my love for the city growing until I started exploring it on my own.
However, that took me a while. After the brief stay in Hammond, we went to an Extended Stay hotel in Lansing, IL for about 3 months while we worked on purchasing our home which was also in Indiana. A little town called Dyer, just a few miles from the Illinois state line. We rarely went back to the city during the time at the Extended Stay but on occasion went to Wrigleyville to a friend’s apartment and to the Midway airport area to eat at the Giordano’s there (my personal favorite Chicago pizza although it is terribly touristy, I will recommend it til I’m blue in the face)
He and I had good times in the city. We went to Broadway shows, Cubs & Blackhawks games, and had delicious meals. But for me it was too sporadic. What’s the point in living so close to somewhere cool if you hardly go? Especially when I knew we wouldn’t be there forever. Part of railroad life is moving frequently so I knew it was just a matter of time! So finally I couldn’t take it anymore. Taste of Chicago was going on & damn it I wanted to go! So one day while feeling particularly brave, I drove myself to the station & bought myself a ticket. I boarded that train knowing exactly where I needed to get off & where I wanted to go…and I had the best freakin’ time ever. This little country bumpkin was growing up! I laugh at myself now but I was petrified of having to ask a stranger if I could sit with them if the train was full. I was petrified that I’d miss my train home and wouldn’t make it at the very specific time I’d pictured myself getting home. I was so scared & for what? The people were lovely, the train rides were fine, it was a perfect day to be out & eating delicious food around the city! This day taught me to stop being afraid. The world can be scary but don’t be a little bitch about it!
Approaching the top steps of Millennium Station and seeing the glimpses of the city outside, I remember my heart beating faster. I had done it! “Look at these huge buildings all around me! I’m so small in comparison. No one knows me here! No one knows where I’m at! I can do whatever I want!” My thoughts were running wild! I loved this feeling of freedom that I’d never felt before…that the city was wide open & mine to explore. It’s a feeling that has never left me. I feel it every time I go somewhere new.
So after this first initial outing, I started going as often as I could. I visited museums, restaurants, shops, tourist attractions, parks, & whatever else I could think of! Oh the original Playboy mansion is here? Well let’s go find it! Found a cool restaurant on Travel Channel? I’m on my way! I can go watch the Blackhawks training camp for $5? Sign me up! Learning Chicago consumed me. I was obsessed with finding cool things to do, touristy things I wanted to do & hadn’t yet, and good food!** I became entranced with Chicago sports – suddenly I was a huge Blackhawks fan & I loved the Cubbies. I love how Chicago loves their home teams & I wanted so badly to be apart of that excitement! I shared news articles, travel articles, “To-Do in Chicago” lists all over my social media…this city ,literally, became part of my identity! I was actually a bit cringe-worthy with my love but I felt it fiercely.
On certain days a week I would work in Hammond & across the train tracks was the station I always left from. Sometimes I’d sit in my car (I worked solo so this was okay) & just think about going home to get Emma and us running off to Chicago together. Just me and her. It’s so weird to me that this wasn’t a huge red flag that I should be divorced & I was actually pretty happy in my marriage then but in my fantasy world it was always just me and my baby dog being city girls together. The way I’d pictured my life when I was a teenager. Okay, so I never pictured having a dog but Emma only made my imagined life even better!
It’s 2022 now. I moved from Indiana in 2014. I’ve been to Chicago only on my layovers for work. The last time I went to the city (and didn’t just hang out in my layover hotel) was December of 2018. I still love it…but I have a different love for it now. It’s a matured love. A love that is more calming than heart pounding. A love that feels like an old friend instead of a hot new love. A love that says “You don’t have to rush Autumn. You can take your time and enjoy…you’ll be back”
*I did freeze actually. All the fucking time, for months on end. The one part of Chicago that I can’t romanticize at all is the cold.
**I cannot stress this enough – Chicago is the best food city in the USA. Fight me on this, I don’t care. But please, if you ever find yourself going to the Chi, please ask me for recommendations! I won’t let you down.
All photos are my own with the exception of the cover photo which I found on Pinterest & can be found to purchase as a print at THIS link.
“A year from now we’ll all be gone All our friends will move away And they’re goin’ to better places But our friends will be gone away
Nothin’ is as it has been And I miss your face like hell And I guess it’s just as well But I miss your face like hell
Ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh Ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh
Been talkin’ ’bout the way things change And my family lives in a different state If you don’t know what to make of this Then we will not relate So if you don’t know what to make of this Then we will not relate”
This past weekend, I was in a wedding in my home state of Kentucky. I was actually the Maid of Honor which really WAS an honor! I never expected to be asked to do that. Truthfully I had no idea what a Maid of Honor does and I didn’t even find out that’s what the plan was until 3 months til the wedding but I tried my best! Anyways though, it truly was a beautiful time. The whole shebang. The couple (but the bride! My friend Kaylee *heart eyes, chef’s kiss*), the venue, the cake, the food, the bridal party! Every detail was just beautiful. It made my heart happy & I’ve been weirdly emotional anyways (could be because Mercury has been in gaterade or maybe I’m menstrual, I don’t even know) but I just felt like I need to get on the blog and talk about my feelings as if this blog is my proverbial therapist’s couch.
Why so emotional? Well. I’m old. Just kidding. But I do think that time has something to do with this. Back in March, I had a 28 hour layover in Charlotte, which is a city I used to live in. I have not been back to Charlotte for a visit since 2011. I went to where I had worked when I lived there – Southpark mall. I knew very well that everyone I was friends with had moved into to bigger things but I walked all around anyways revisiting the stores I had worked in almost hoping to see a familiar face. So many things had changed there! I used to think that place was so glam because it had luxury stores and a Cheesecake Factory (please remember I’m from the middle of nowhere) and now seeing it from my 33 year old set of eyes…well, time is playing tricks on my mind. I went back to my hotel room that day feeling a little blue. It was definitely a case of “I should have lowered my expectations” and it truly was a fine day, like nothing bad happened or anything but it was just a weird reminder that I didn’t really need about how much time had passed. Maybe I felt a bit old. I’m not great at recognizing the exact emotions I’m feeling so I’ll just go back to “blue”. That rainy day shade of gray-blue.
So back to the wedding. Actually let’s take it back again, sorry. I won’t derail too bad, especially to talk about an asshole, but in 2010 I got married. It was not a success. We basically ran off and got married and a couple months later we had our wedding reception back “home”. I invited everyone I knew. All of my family and the few friends I had made while living in Kentucky for the couple years I did. I truly thought they’d show up. One was supposed to be my photographer & he even volunteered to make a grooms cake. He didn’t come. I received no explanation from anyone why they didn’t come. One of my ex’s relatives approached me at one point as I was straightening items on the little table that had our guest book ready to sign and asked me “are you here for the bride or the groom?” – I was so shocked. My photos were literally scattered all about the room. There was a whole BOOK of our wedding photos on a display table to look through! I looked at her and responded a bit dry and said “I AM the bride” and simply walked off. I should have just asked for a divorce right then. But wait, I can promise you there’s more. In the crowded room of the UMWA hall where it was held, I had 10 people there for me. Yes, quality over quantity, I get it. But let me elaborate…
My mom and Gary were late. I have no photos with them from this day. I had hurt my mom’s feelings because I was a little bitch who let my ex dictate everything. She wanted a memorial table with a photo of my grandma and cousin – he told me a wedding reception is not the place to have something “so depressing” on display. She had mentioned having disposable cameras available so people could take candids…he said his family wasn’t the candid photo type. Although, his uncle snagged my digital camera and took loads of candids. Every idea she had, I shot down even though they were great ideas. I don’t blame her for being late. My MawMaw Rose was late which didn’t bother me as she was older and whatnot. My mom’s friend Linda came, whom we love. One of my aunts came…to ask me for a favor. She brought my younger cousin who I distinctly remember insulting the dress I was wearing, grabbing a cupcake, & sitting at a table rubbing her tummy and alluding to the fact she thought she was pregnant because that’s all she did, literally, anytime I seen her. Oh, and she brought a friend, who is just whatever. They stayed about 30 minutes and left. And then there was Tonya, Kelly, and Kaylee.
I’ve already jabbered enough so quickly – I met Kelly in ‘06 after moving to Kentucky. We met at Bath & Body Works. 2 years later, Tonya was my boss lady. Kelly joined us at the shoe and clothing store we worked at about 6 months ish later (that’s a guesstimate, I have no clue). Kaylee is her daughter & we became natural friends over time. This day. This wedding reception from hell to an actual demon, made them my family. I always make sure to state that when we have pictures together or I write about them. Those 3 are my family. They showed up for me. They did not like my ex, they had no reason to (he actually tried to have Kelly fired at one point but I didn’t learn about this until we got divorced) but they loved me. They brought no drama. They asked no favors. They simply showed up & gave me the support I needed at that time. One shouldn’t need the amount of support I needed that day.
So after talking about all this depressing shit from my life (I swear I’m quite happy in reality) I was more than happy to show up for Kaylee. I was the world’s most useless MOH. I was working for all the important shit like the bridal shower and dress shopping. I had no idea I was supposed to fluff the dress when she did, well, stuff. Kelly kept miming to me from the front row to fix the dress and I had no idea what the hell she was doing so I just stood there hoping she’d stop until one of the other bridesmaids came up and smoothed it out and I was just thinking to myself “Ooooh okay THAT!!!”. We sat together at the reception, I didn’t know anyone but those 3. I didn’t sit with the bridal party, I sat with Tonya & Kelly (& Clinton). I watched both of them happily dance with Clinton. Here comes the tears again, but how sweet it is to see the ones you love, loving the ones you love. He even had “The Only Exception” by Paramore played for his dance with Kelly, a song she loves. Well, actually Tonya requested it. Time has not been cruel to me really. It’s crazy that so much has passed since the days of working at the shoe store with them but it’s been very, very good to me.
My reception was 11 years ago & as I wrote this, tears still trickled down my face. Next year, I plan to marry the love of my life, but I won’t lie – I’m terrified of having a repeat of that day. Not seeing my friends or family show up for me. Things are different now though but I truly do believe one thing for sure, I believe those 3 will be there for me once again.