“Now what?” COVID & A Flight Attendant Career

“Can we talk about something else?” I ask quietly, a hint of desperation suspended between my words and what I don’t say. What I don’t say is how hard not having an income is. What I don’t mention is how lost I feel. What I keep silent is how discouraged I am. I don’t need to say any of this for he already knows. We both know. 

He’s patiently sat with me as I’ve cried and worried and contemplated, “Now what?” He’s held me and reminded me that I’ll be ok. He seems to see past who I am in this moment and see me for what I can be and who I am at my best. He believes that things will bounce back after this pandemic and that there is opportunity in the present. He believes I will bounce back. He believes in me. I know he’s right and if he’s not right, I’ll cling to a fairytale. I know, somewhere, I know. Somewhere. Somehow. All is NOT lost. 

My head bows. My hands catch my face. My palms cradle my tears. I sigh. “Yes, we can talk about something else,” he responds as he closes the distance between us, wrapping his arms around me, engulfing my confusion. He’s become my Quaranteam. He says nothing more, and I wonder how he so perfectly knows what to do. So completely understanding what I need. I don’t even understand. I hate myself for the emotions, for my fear. For the listless hours and lack of focus. “You’re too hard on yourself,” he says as we drive back from an afternoon errand. I wonder where his patience comes from and where I found such kindness. I wonder if he’s real… because all of this, all of life, feels like this bad and good dream. 

I’m not pretending I’m ok. I am ok, and I’m not ok. I’m happy, and I’m sad. I’m thankful and angry; hurting and hopeful. None of this makes sense. My emotional toolbox for dealing with a global pandemic feels grossly inadequate. The only way I’ve stayed sensible is through distraction and staying in the present. Remaining in what is here and now. Here and now has beauty, too.

I listen to podcasts. I binge on Amazon Prime shows not until I am full, but until they are finished. He holds my hand. We walk to coffee. I sit in the sunshine, legs outstretched across his lap. We sit for no other purpose but to sit— in the sunshine. I like the sunshine a lot. Some have said that I’m sunshine. I don’t feel like anything bright, but the way he looks at me makes me think that maybe I am more than I feel right now. This must be a dream, I think. I have never had time like this to get to know a person like him. I’ve never had time like this. 

In the space of here, I hope that I will unearth my tenacity. That hope will be uncovered. Rachel Hollis says to recast your vision and that the reason you are struggling and scared is because you lost your sense of control. I don’t know that any corporate flight attendant feels like life is “in control.” Ever. We exist in adaptation. I wonder why then that this time, adapting hurts so deep. 

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I can’t help but grieve the truth that I gave so many years to building a career as a corporate flight attendant that has now all but evaporated. Hurting for it. Hustling for it. Sacrifices and shuffling around priorities to succeed in it. Within weeks, it’s gone. My income a fraction, if anything, of the lucrative six-figures I once enjoyed. But there’s more to it than the money. There was a certain purpose and rhythm to the days and months and weeks. A certain identity embraced in Flight Attendant Life. Last May, I went to Italy— twice. I had a twenty day trip through Europe. I went to so so many places. I never took the travel for granted. I also never anticipated the world would close. So, now what? 

I question if I should spend as much time re-building my corporate flight attendant career as I spent building it. I wonder what the aviation environment will be post-COVID and how to best navigate it amidst COVID. I actually enjoy the slower pace of life and having more time at home. Have I entered a season to pivot into something else? Knowing what that something else is….I don’t. I just don’t know. 

It hurts to think of ‘Now what?’ I don’t know what to do next. I have things that I’ve learned, things that I’m good at, and things on my side— all brought to me through the adventure of being a flight attendant. Being a flight attendant was the best thing that ever happened to me. Becoming a corporate flight attendant made me grow as a woman more than I ever imagined. Time was not wasted. Time is not wasted. I’m just a little unsure at the moment. We all are a bit unsure, I imagine. 

He walks out onto the balcony. He’s busy with work and calls and life almost as usual, and although his life hasn’t stopped abruptly, he chooses to stop. He stops to step outside and away from his at-home-office. He stops to lean in and give me a soft kiss. I stare at his eyes that glimmer and sparkle and dance. If kindness were a color it would be that distinct shade of blue I see when I look at him. I don’t know how I got so lucky or how I deserve this goodness in my world right now. Kindness won’t erase my uncertainty but the gift of not feeling alone keeps me afloat, grateful, sane for another day. And maybe, on this ‘another day,’ I will discover the answer to— “Now what?”

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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