Shades of Beige and Heavy Sighs -or- On Jobs

“You headin’ home?” she politely asked me as I heaved my suitcase into the overhead bin. As a senior flight attendant, she had mastered the airline etiquette of speaking with other employee standbys. Smiling sweetly, but with the glazed over eyes of 6am and an underlying wave of I don’t really care. But still, she was surface nice, and that’s more than some ever are, let alone before coffee and the boarding doors shut.

I slammed my fingernail under the weight of my roller bag and bent back a large chunk,
Shit. I thought.
“Yea, just commuting” I peeped, biting my lip in mild pain.

A little lie.
Not for the purpose of hiding anything, just easier than explaining that I was the newbie to the industry and still on reserve as a new flight attendant.

I technically don’t live anywhere at the moment. While working, I spend my days flying around, staying in the hotels the airline provides. On my days off, I bounce around from the couches to air mattresses of friends and sometimes, if time off allows, back to my family in Florida. Today I had only two days off work, so I was boarding a flight to Denver, staying with one of my best friends just for the evening. I’d hop another flight back to San Francisco tomorrow and be back on call the following morning at 3am for another block of five days. I rent a bed in what’s called a “crash pad” near my base airport in San Francisco. So on the nights I don’t have a trip lined up for that set of work days, I sleep surrounded by bunks and the coming and goings of twelve other flights attendants and pilots. All airline folks, all with other places they call home. Planes start to feel like part of the office, in that recycled air, sometimes slightly turbulent nauseous sort of way, but, hey, the view is always spot on.

Every job I’ve ever had has been because of travel. One way or another that’s what it’s come down to. I have either been saving for travels or overseas teaching and nannying. It was no surprise to most when I took a job as a flight attendant. I was usually searching for that next destination. That new place. And with this job, the benefits allow me as much travel as I can manage on my somewhat sad budget and ability to go without sleep.

So far dealing with the transition of becoming a flight attendant has been a complete lifestyle change. Every now and then I catch a glimpse of myself in a shiny surface in one of the many glossy airports you can see me trailing my suitcase through, and don’t recognize myself. In uniform, with all the details pinned just so and a smile plastered on with face. A completely different life than when I carried out my days in yoga pants, teaching and meditating with my students.

It’s been interesting. In the good ways and the less than fun ways.

I find that Interesting is one of those words people like to use when they don’t want to say things like difficult or maybe even boring. Honesty being the best policy and all, it’s true for me as well.

Not that I don’t enjoy the many benefits of my job, I do. I love that I don’t sit in an office day in and day out. I love having the financial independence that this job allows me and the ability to hop on a plane to wherever I feel like seeing. But when it comes to the actual job, sometimes boring and difficult just come with the territory, and that’s for most jobs.  

Sometimes I try to imagine those words like boring and difficult into actual people, humanizing the bothersome duo. Seeing them as just the abrupt old shitty childhood friends of interesting.

Boring is the guy in the beige polo and slightly different shade of khakis, monotonously throwing words together like ‘corporate’ and ‘revisions.’  As well as repeatedly, and poorly, recounting the story of how him and his wife got engaged for ‘logical tax purposes.’ He probably carries around his own soap in a ziplock bag too. Just because “you can never be too careful…”

Difficult, though, she’s the gal with the orange spray tan and resting bitch face that taps her manicured nails on her Yeti tumbler. Every time you open your mouth she heaves a long sigh and rolls her eyes. She never has shit to add to the positive, but always has a complaint about the temperature of the room.

I’d rather have someone sneeze directly into my face than hang out with them.

But as they are, the annoying duo, difficult and boring, usually lead you, annoyances and all, directly toward where good ole interesting is relaxing. Cuddled with a book and a thin lipped wine glass, ready to discuss and laugh at his annoying childhood friends that almost lead you astray from your goal and from him. Sometimes you’re friends with people just because you’ve been friends with them for so long, right?

That’s what I’ve have been feeling about my new job as I shuffle through my first few months working in the corporate world. A world I’ve never so much as tiptoed around in before. Hell I haven’t even glanced in the direction of it.

So far, it’s a lot of sleeping upright in chairs with your phone on the max volume glued to your hand, waiting for scheduling to call you for a trip. It’s days sitting alone in a hotel room next to an airport while you’re on call. Becoming a packing goddess and knowing how to dress in the same clothes repeatedly while making them seem like separate outfits. It might mean not having a place to call home but a variety of places in the country to stay while you have days off, and the ability to get there, cost free. And it’s definitely ignoring jet lag and the not so rare outburst of a passenger. Guests who are in full belief that hurling through the sky at 30,000 feet is a burden to their day and not a miraculous journey across the country, in less time than most of us spend binge watching Netflix.

For me, a huge portion of it is the camaraderie of the airline world. Seeing someone who you’ve known since training or maybe have never met before, but in the same slightly wrinkled uniform, bags under their eyes, barely shuffling through the terminal, and when you lock eyes you just know how the other feels.

We are a team.

We all do this job for different reasons. But mostly, and maybe obviously, it’s for our own travel. It’s the benefits we can’t quite give up having, even when we’ve worked a 26 hour shift and don’t remember what day it is or what city we’re in that night. Places to visit become actual do to lists. Commuting doesn’t mean from the suburbs in a car, but from another state or country.

My father gave me Gibran’s ‘The Prophet’ when I was in High School. But I don’t think I opened myself up to listening to it’s beautifully written verses until much after, typical angsty teen I was. Much like a long poem, it delves into almost meditations on different aspects of life. I’ve read it so many times now I can’t begin to count. One section in particular is pointed around the questions of life and purpose.

Because as many beautiful moments that come up on social media, I know people struggle in the same mundane ways every day simple trying to balance the ‘everydayness’ of our lives. No one is casually typing their status updates as “Same old day, different year.. is this what I’m going to be doing til I succumb to death and old age?”
I would hope not, anyway.

No..it’s usually a much more flowery quote on motivation or how amazing their hubby is. It’s natural to exclaim the positive, and I totally get it. Yet, it’s vital to understand that no one is alone in these sometimes less than movie like plot points of life. 

The difficult part of daily life and my job isn’t the level of skill is takes, to me it’s the opposite. It’s the redundancy that’s difficult, the day by day of the same steps. It’s not just this job either, it’s many and most. Difficult is everywhere, sighing and whining daily in 9-5 offices about how the florescent light makes her look pale. Boring is tailing along, sipping his decaf coffee and muttering to himself about his credit card rates.

Best to ignore them, but they do tend to get under the skin. Especially when all of your friends on Instagram seem to be constantly on vacation, sipping margaritas.

So there is the question, do you become passionate with your life? Throw caution to the wind going after that illogical, somewhat financially unstable, career with lustrous eyes. Or to look more logically at your adulthood and situation within reason, boring and difficult-side-by-side. In my experience, and I’m sure with countless others, it’s a spiraling tornado of debate. Usually ending up with me drinking wine and rewatching old episodes of “Friends” trying to ignore the analysis of real life.

Because why can’t all of us have jobs that afford luxurious lofts in NYC without ever actually working. That gets in the way of drinking copious amounts of coffee from giant mugs, right?

That’s adulthood.

Please?

The truth is reason and passion must coincide in life. We need both equally, the yin to the yang. The good cop to your bad cop. My wine to my yoga. Those two, not quite unlike boring and difficult, are hopelessly together for the long haul, essential ingredients to a satisfying life.

Annoying, I know. Yet they each make the other possible.

Maybe to lead a good life we need to simply accept ourselves as a paradox. That one part of you is simply a small piece of the puzzle that leads to who you are at your best self. That combination of passion and reason.

You need both.

You crave both.

Because as much as I felt satisfied teaching and learning with yoga, for example. Unfortunately my wallet never felt the same. I found it unfair to force all that financial responsibility to such a wonderful lifestyle and it’s teachings. I wanted to teach and learn, not focus on paying my bills by it. Sometimes I would look at my schedule and it would loose all luster, just for a moment, as the negativity of cash signs and payments loomed over my brow.  So I took a job as a flight attendant, what at the time I thought was going to be the perfect combination of travel and health insurance.

It’s interesting. But, of course, like codependent dipshits, difficult and boring, aren’t ever far behind.

After two hours of flying the senior flight attendant was now apple cheeked, presumably filled with her normal levels caffeine. She smiled more genuinely toward everyone as we deplaned in Denver,  as she casually stood next to her own luggage, waiting to leave work herself.

“Have a good time at home,” she chirped as she saw me walking through the aisle. I thanked her and promised I would, as I tugged my luggage onto the jet bridge.

Close enough, I thought.

I don’t know what this lifestyle means to my future yet, all these paradoxes flying around. Is this career something I’ll continue for years or maybe just something that will occupy my time until I find something a little more, settling…

Who knows, really. I don’t even know what day of the week it is most of the time, if I’m being honest.

But I will, one day.

Not always as romantic as it sounds but I do try to trust the process. I believe the universe has something in store beyond the regular storybook outline, for everyone. As long as they determine that they want it that way. That you’re willing to deal with both sides of the spectrum, the passionate colors as well as the dull beiges, all shades of adulthood. Throw that vibration out into the universe until something amazing bounces right back at you. Just don’t expect never to see all of interesting’s friends along the way. Maybe even becoming friends with them as well.

Because as much as I don’t want to start wearing top to toe beige or constantly complaining about the temperature, maybe I can shoot the shit with those two for a few minutes every now and then to get where I want to be.

Gibran writes:

For reason, ruling alone, is a force confining; and passion, unattended, is a flame that burns to its own destruction. Therefore let your soul exalt your reason to the height of passion; that it may sing; And let it direct your passion with reason, that your passion may live through its own daily resurrection, and like the phoenix rise above its own ashes.

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