In 2008 I began the first in a series of three events that, to my dismay, have led to an erosion of my friendships.
In July 2008 I became a flight attendant. A little less than a year into the job I was at the end of a particularly gruelling five day pairing. On the last night I went for dinner with two other female flight attendants. They were both a little older than me and had lots of interesting insights to share about their lives. One of them said, “when you become a flight attendant you lose your friends.” Being still quite new to the job I was puzzled. I was sceptical as she described how one by one her friends had stopped calling her, stopped inviting her out, stopped being involved in her life because they never knew when she would be around. She wasn’t blaming them for this, she understood that it was tough to keep up with someone who flies for a living, but lamented those friendships and expressed gratitude for the one friend of hers who remained. My scepticism was short lived when, a few months later, I realized that a good majority of my friends had stopped calling me, stopped inviting me out, and stopped being involved in my life presumably because the task of sorting out when I would be around had become too difficult.
However, this was also about the time I became engaged. Marriage seems to be another event that has cost me some friendships. Without commenting on the terrors of engagement, it seems that somewhere over the course of saying “I do” and moving in with a boy a lot of my friends vanished. I’ve heard that when you get married a lot of your single friends sort of fall away, but it seems that even some of our couple friends disappeared somewhere between the wedding reception and our return from our honeymoon. While I found the first year of marriage to be wonderful and not nearly as difficult as so many people said it would be, I definitely felt isolated from my friends and lonelier than I’ve been in a long time. I also found myself wondering whether my loneliness was largely my own fault.
Moving to another country also appears to have caused a decrease in friendships. This has been a valuable learning experience for me. A number of friends have moved far away over the past few years and I now realize how crucial it is to keep in contact with them, especially in the early months as they are just getting settled and meeting new people. Actually, even months after moving, I find myself missing certain people more and more. To those of my friends who have moved away in recent years who I have neglected, I am sorry. Moving away can be lonely business and I’m sorry I didn’t support you even a little more.
And now I am lamenting the loss of my friendships. I understand that some relationships are seasonal, while others can go dormant for years and pick up right where they left off. I am thankful for the new friendships I’ve gained since moving to the UK, but there are days when I wonder whether the choices I’ve made are worth the loss of so many great friends.
The Icelandic ash cloud that halted air travel throughout Europe fell off the front page of the newspaper well over a week ago but, I’d still like to share this beautiful article which reflects on a world without air travel. I encourage you to read the full length version as well. I also appreciated this quote from an article written in the Globe and Mail,
Morning breaks in London with a strange, exhilarating silence: Gone is the constant low hum of two dozen jetliners overhead, the scores of vapour trails etched in the sky.
Gone, too, are couriers, tourists, fresh fruit. The silent city sounds and feels like a village, bathed in sunlight and frozen in stillness. The air tastes sweet, and the sky is perfectly clear and crystalline for the first time in a decade.
You realize, as never before, that you live on an island.
This quote reminds me of the Shakespeare class I took in University in which our professor tried to explain the differences between being in The Globe theatre during the 1600s and now. He would always mention that in the 1600s the actors did not need to speak over the constant hum of airplanes.
I’m generally not one to keep up with headline news but this story captured my imagination as I flew, undaunted, through North American skies.
I’ve been thinking about the interchange between Kathleen and Joe from the movie You’ve Got Mail a lot in the last few days.
Joe: It’s not…personal.
Kathleen: What is that supposed to mean? I’m so sick of that. All that means is that it wasn’t personal to you. But it was personal to me. It’s personal to a lot of people. And what’s so wrong with being personal anyway?
Joe: Uh, nothing.
Kathleen: Whatever else anything is, it ought to begin by being personal.
I often hear from friends and family that I shouldn’t take things so personally. But, in recent months there’s this part of me that can’t help it. Especially at work, when people flip me the bird or tell me I don’t look old enough to serve alcohol or tease me about my height. My time at work takes away days and days from my friends and family. I’m sometimes on the aircraft for 12 or more hours in a day leaving no time to even talk to someone who cares about me. So, ya, when I don’t get that Saturday off that I asked for to celebrate my mom’s birthday or spend time with my husband, it’s personal. When I spend time cleaning up the poop that’s been smeared all over the back lavatory instead of having time to read a book or have a warm meal at home, it’s personal. I know you could fault me for taking this job in the first place but, to be honest, I had no idea it would be this hard.
2009 was my first (and possibly only) full year as a flight attendant and I was curious to see how many flights I worked over the past year. I averaged about 20 flights per month with a total of 284 flights in 2009. If you include repositioning flights in which I was in uniform and not working, plus flights taken for personal reasons the total comes to just slightly more than 300 flights in 2009.
My work brought me as far south as St. Maartens in the Netherland Antilles and as far east as St. John’s, Newfoundland. Personally, I travelled a bit further east to London, England.
The cities or towns I visited in 2009 are (in no particular order),
- London, Ontario*
- St. John’s*
- Fort Lauderdale
- London, England
- Didsbury (Manchester)
- Thunder Bay
- Rocky Mountain House*
- Niagra Falls
- Greely, ON
The * represents any place I visited more than once this year (Toronto should probably have about 20 more *).