So, there have been a lot of changes in my life these last few months, to say the least. I’ve had a major makeover in my career, my home, my city, my company, my diet…Basically everything about my life has turned a complete 180–and I am loving every bit of it!
The last time you saw me, I was writing out of a mish-mosh Brooklyn apartment. I was doing the nanny thing, interning at a museum, and cooking in a kitchen that only New York City could claim as passable. I didn’t have a lot of extra time on my hands, and I didn’t really get out much.
I was by no means a recluse. I enjoyed time with my friends in the city, and I always had fun whipping up tasty treats. But something was missing. It took me two years of living in the big, bad city to figure out what it was. But once I could finally admit to myself that I needed an adjustment, my life turned around and started falling into place.
In October, after months of pestering from my friend to get out of the city that had been trying my patience and happiness for the last 730 days and join her in the aviation industry, I received an email from an airline, inviting me to apply for a flight attendant position.
I’ve always been the black sheep of the family. I’m the artsy-fartsy, free-spirited rebel. I like to do what I want, and what I want is often very different than what I’m told. But I was also raised in a well-educated, professional family. I learned to strive for a traditional life–go to college, get a good white-collar job, raise a family. These were the goals of a future I was taught to envision for myself since I was a little girl.
So that’s just what I did. I studied hard and worked my way through school. I have these two lovely degrees from a renowned university, some professional writing experience, and a 25-year-long plan for my future in the corporate world. Dropping everything I’d ever done to become a flight attendant was not an option. It just didn’t seem to make sense. Until it did.
Finally, something inside me just snapped, and everything seemed to become crystal clear and incredibly confusing and terrifying at the same time. By the time that invitation reached me, I guess I’d just had enough. The straws had been piling up for two years, and I just kept telling myself that if I could just make an adjustment here or a revision there, I’d find bliss in NYC. But what I’d been doing wasn’t working, so it was time to try something new. Completely and totally new.
I bought myself a ticket to Detroit for the interview, and a whirlwind ensued. It was a wild, nerve-wracking experience. The whole interview process lasted about 12 hours. There were 200 people with whom I was competing, and there were eyes and ears everywhere, watching our every move. My spirit was high, my attitude positive and excited, and my hopes soaring. I was going to land this job. And I did.
Once I returned home from the interview in Detroit, I had one month to move to the other side of the country before being shipped off to Florida for a month-long training program. One month to clear out. I sold all my furniture, tossed a lot of what had become a part of my life in New York City, rented out my apartment, and prepared to leave the city behind.
Soon after I landed in Florida, I found that I had underestimated the stress of a flight attendant’s training program. So, it was a month–big deal. So I’d have to share a room–definitely doable. So I couldn’t cook for myself–I’ve been there before. So there’d be some exams–I went to college! I could handle it! And while I got through training with more knowledge and understanding of the aviation industry than I’d ever even realized exists, and made some life-long friends, training did not come without its struggles.
With class from 6 am to 4:30 pm, straight to studying, eating canned soup and microwaved sweet potatoes every day, waking up an hour earlier than I’ve ever needed in order to learn how to use the company-mandated makeup I’ve spent my life avoiding, and literally having zero hours a day to myself for 30 grueling days, I was exhausted. I always had to be “on.” I had to bite my tongue…a lot. And we all know how difficult that is for me. I had to cope with little sleep, found myself longing for my friends and family, missed the Thanksgiving holiday and my mom’s heavenly spread, and lived in what I considered a hobunk town with little in the way of culture, food, history, or entertainment, save for the halfway house next door to our hotel. It was far from glamorous.
But I made it.
Then came the next struggle. Living in Detroit. In a crash pad. For those of you not involved in the airline industry, a crash pad is a horrid little house, furnished with loads of beds for the use of flight attendants and pilots in need of a place to stay during their time in base. I was technically residing in Las Vegas, my future desired base, but I had to be in Detroit for all of my assignments. I ended up in this double-wide trailer with ten bunk beds. Never had I lived with so many people at once. I also never anticipated having to sleep in either a bunk bed or a twin bed after my freshman year in the college dorms. Here, I had both! I was living in the town around the airport, called Romulus. Romulus, I am certain, must have been the inspiration for The People of Walmart. In fact, Walmart was the closest thing to my house–only a 15 minute drive! I felt pretty trapped and sometimes overwhelmed by all the personalities in the confined space.
But I made the most of my time in Detroit. The ladies in the crash pad became a family away from home. And I was able to reconnect with some close friends of my past, who oddly found themselves in Detroit by way of sunny, southern California, too. I used my 12 days off every month exploring the city, which my friends and I coined “The Land of Low Expectations.” I ran through wooded trails, dropped to the ground in total unpreparedness to make snow angels with every snowfall, baked cookies, experimented with a slow cooker, learned to sleep during broad daylight, and got the *bleep* outta there!
For the first time in years, I could travel where I want, when I want. And for the first time in my life, I could do it all for free.
I visited my friends in New York City, went home and saw my mom and dad, stayed with my sister and sis-in-law in their beautiful new home along the Hudson River, and traveled to Chicago to visit Monet and Renoir and Surat! I have a trip to LA for a reunion of my childhood choir coming up, and soon after, I will be heading to Kiev. How amazing it feels to finally have the freedom I’ve always sought. To throw away all the preconceived notions of what my life should be, and give myself the life I want.
Now that I’m settled in Las Vegas with my flight attendant friend, in a space I call my own, I have the opportunity to make my life mine. To use my time for me instead of working for someone else every single day. I have the time I desire for fitting in travel and writing and cooking and art and all the things I want to be surrounded by. But even more importantly, I have the means for helping to take care of my family. I finally feel like I’m able to give them something, after years of having nothing to offer other than myself. I can go spend time with my mom and cook dinner for my dad. I can send them away to the destinations they’ve always had their eyes on. I can plan excursions with my brother and explore the world at our feet together.
I haven’t been this happy in years. I am so glad I finally took the dive and decided to do something unexpected. I am grateful every single day to have a job that I love and the freedom I need to be happy. As a flight attendant, the world really is my oyster, and boy, am I hungry!