We leapt out of my mini in a dash to beat the rain drops from soaking us, hopped under the overhang in our flip flops to orient ourselves, looking for the entrance. Originally, we had a plan to hit Miami beach after our Camaguay turn, but the weather had other things in store. Turns out it was a welcomed change of events, as I found my new favorite spot in Wynwood, one filled with handsome 30-40 somethings who looked like they may work at or own one or more of the art studios that line the streets there. Every time I come to Wynwood, my faith in Miami is restored momentarily. I see ‘my people’… or, rather, the people I want to know, and perhaps, the people I want to be.
Ana and I sat at the high metal stools that lined the bar, and smiled at the attractive bartender, smooth black skin, hair standing 10 inches up on top of his head, perfectly kinky, his smile bright, like he truly enjoyed being just where he was. We ordered wine and breakfast, it was 3 pm. Ana and I hadn’t really spent time together before, so we shared stories of our families, our past relationships, and our potential futures. After sharing a story with her about a botched romance with someone I met on the plane, she looked at me with a timid face to ask me a question that had obviously been weighing on her mind. “So, does this happen a lot? Is this how it is being a flight attendant?” she asked. This was her first time in the industry, one that I have been tangled up in for almost 20 years. “Hmmmm, let me see if I can explain…” I said. “It’s kinda like this…”
When people (aka men) find out you are a flight attendant, whether they mean to or not, you are instantly labeled as the following: Easy, sexy, you do not like commitment, you sleep around, you will sleep with them, you are not educated nor do you care about politics or religion, your uniform is short and sexy and you must text me a photo of you in it, you have joined the mile high club, and most importantly, you may be the one I can finally cheat on my wife with, because ‘what happens at 35,000…’
Once you disclose you are a flight attendant, in that very instant, you start fighting against all of the stereotypes associated with it. In reality, those of us in this profession tend to be open, giving, romantic, genuine, and adventurous. So, if we meet a man who lights up when they meet us, we think it’s because of us, because they see our light, and they think we are wonderful. What ends up happening, sadly, is that we misinterpret this illumination. They are seeing all the frivolous fun that might happen, but what we see is that they are genuinely sparked by meeting a great woman. When you say you are a flight attendant, you represent a fling, not a partner. You represent a potential affair, an escape from their reality of bills and responsibilities, you represent adventure; that glorious thing that is missing from their suburban lives. You, by no means, represent someone they could marry and create an awesome family with.
“It’s like this… You get a weekend away from work, and you plan a road trip. You pack up your car and escape the city, you have only 3 days, but you are making the most of it! As you are winding up the mountain road, fresh air blowing past your face, that song comes on the radio and you start singing along… It takes you back to when you were 20, young, & in love, no cares in the world. You sing out loud, maybe even closing your eyes for the good bits, it makes you feel so alive, it makes you feel again… you are transported back in time… Gawd, you love road trips!!” We are that nostalgic song they sing on their road trip, we represent that freedom. For those fleeting moments, it doesn’t matter what job you have at home, or why your wife nagged at you, you are on a road trip, and everything is magical. I guess you can’t blame these men too much though, I may do the same if I met a nomadic wildlife photographer from Africa… Actually, I most definitely would. Correction, I most definitely did. Sometimes, it’s hard to distinguish love for a person vs. love for the idea of that person.
A few years ago, I met a passenger en route from LAX to ORD… he had a great name, I forget it now, it was Israeli, but he looked like he was from Iowa. I’d never actually gone through with taking any romantic encounter off the airplane before, but I felt compelled with this one, something just seemed more special with him than with others I had met while in uniform. We met for a drink after the flight, we shared some stories, told each other a bit more about our lives. What I saw almost immediately was that he hated his job, he wasn’t happy with the current trajectory of his life, and that he was desperate for something to make him feel better about himself. As I had feared, he was indeed not special, he was just good at drawing in what he needed at the time. I knew it wasn’t his intention, but I was aware enough to realize what was going on before the second drink, and therefore excused myself from the date. As he walked me out, he pulled me into the stairwell in a passionate last ditch effort to find some fantasy in the night. I went along with it for a minute or two, why not get a little out of this after all… I felt him push up against me, thrusting and grinding with awkward determination, jamming his tongue around my mouth like he was trying to live out that elevator scene from Fatal Attraction or something. I felt bad that I even let him go there, because I knew without a doubt I was not giving in to his ultimate desire for the evening. Maybe that was my retaliation though, getting back at him for making me believe he was different. I pulled us back out of the stairwell, gave him a kind goodnight, and hopped into a cab.
As I sat in the backseat staring out at the blurry lights of the Chicago night, my heart sunk to that familiar place where expectations tragically die. In the end, we were both to blame for believing that something other than ourselves could save us. Yet, at the end of the day, I will remain a forever romantic, believing in serendipity, looking for signs from the Universe, and trusting that my flight-attendant-ness will attract a genuine soul, one who appreciates all that I represent, 35,000 feet or not.