The Unknown: When travel and ‘Flight Attendant Life’ (as you know it) stops.

I stared as the sunshine slipped low on my windowsill. Warm rays streamed a sparkle of light across the honey colored wood floors of my cozy corner apartment. The sun and the space felt like a hug, a hard to come by experience in a global pandemic. Alone, bathed in serenity, my mind traveled to Copenhagen. The Scandinavian destination’s influence on my life runs deep and can be easily noticed in the hyggelig decor of my beachside living. I’m often asked what my favorite destination is in my years of traveling the world as a flight attendant. Always, I can’t help but land in Copenhagen. “Why?” I’m asked. It just feels like home. 

I said I would write a book there, in a little Danish apartment, with a delicious cappuccino to keep me company and a Danish bicycle waiting outside. I said I would never be away too long after quitting the International Airline and becoming a Corporate Flight Attendant. But private jets don’t take me there. Or they haven’t, yet. Now, private jets don’t really take anyone anywhere.

I went around the world before it closed. Before we were so scared of a disease we can’t see, a virus we are still learning to understand. I skipped down the Spanish Steps in Rome and grabbed catering from side street cafes in Milan, all without hand sanitizer or fear. I had expectations of a three week trip to Africa in June and no qualms about the possibility of falling in love with someone who lived Down Under. Because, the world was close, NOT closed. Easy to attain. Always available. As a flight attendant, the world was my playground, and it could be conquered. Home was what felt most foreign. 

I consider how quickly travel has changed in the past few weeks. How the world we knew is no longer. We all, in some senses, just wish this would be over. We want to go back, back to our respective ‘Copenhagens,’ but even Copenhagen is not the same. For the first time, maybe, I realize that we fell so in love with travel and yet, it was never travel that we loved most. It was always people. It was always human connection. The humanity that created the energy of a place, an energy that is foundationally constructed by the stories, experiences, smiles, laughter, love and life of the people who bridge the businesses and buildings together. God. How could I miss that all these years? How could I take people so easily for granted? 

Travel is beautiful because of people and when people are no longer part of the equation, travel loses its sparkle. People are the life-blood of cities and the energy of destinations. A sadness teases my soul as I once again feel the eeriness of it all. I imagine Copenhagen streets, empty. The cafes missing their signature flickering candle light, closed for our safety. The perfect coffees and beloved avocado toast, unavailable. Alone, in my Southern California beach apartment, I stop letting my mind travel. Now is not the time to travel. Now is the time to stay home.

And staying home is beautiful, too. You were gone too much. You were moving too fast. Life was passing you by, but because you lived a dream job that everyone envied, you sped up your life to meet their expectations. Busy was worn like a badge of honor and a paycheck equated to your worth. For the first time in months, you finally have time to ask yourself, ‘What am I worth? What do I actually care about? What really matters?”

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Already a week into the new world as we know it, I’m thankful for people, maybe more than I ever have been. I’m thankful for time and sunshine and my California apartment that let’s me hold a piece of Copenhagen in my heart. I’m sorry for the way the world is hurting, for the way that my commercial and corporate flight attendant friends are hurting. I’m sorry that I just assumed that the waves would always be there and that I could slip down their faces whenever I felt like it. I’m sorry I got to the point where travel was a necessary evil as opposed to an enlightened gift. I’m sorry that I assumed my world would always go on perfectly. I’m sorry for so much, but I’m also ready.

I’m ready to make the most of a new rhythm, whether it feels comfortable or not. Whether I know if I’ll have to hustle to find a new career and new paycheck or not. I’m ready to be alone and write, whether it’s difficult or easy. I’m ready and I’ll try to be ready for whatever the Universe hands me next. That doesn’t mean I’m not scared. It just means I’m here, ready.

A global pandemic was not what any of us predicted or wanted or want to experience in this moment. But, in some sort of odd way, stillness was the escape I had wanted so badly. Travel had been easy, stillness hard.  We will travel again. We will fly again. We will live freely again. And the most beautiful part about that is that, hopefully, we will value friends, neighbors, and strangers— we will value the people that are the mosaic of living— more than we ever did. Let crisis be your guide, not your enemy. I’ve never found crisis to steer me away from my destiny, but instead, often, your most challenging moments are what will catapult you into a more meaningful existence and into the spaces that you were always intended to live.

About the Author Kara

Curious. Bubbly. Creative. Curating a life I don't need an escape from and inspiring you to do the same.

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