January 05, 2019 – Kristelle Batchelor
alike.com.ph—It was the day before New Year’s Eve and there I was, technically, at work. I didn't particularly favor the idea of being in Florida again, after flying there one too many times in the last couple of weeks. But still, it was a good respite from New York’s dreary winter.
I found a nice spot on the shore, brimming with families clad in their bathing suits, with kids running around and playing with the pale cream sand. I sat there feeling the cool breeze touch my skin and drawing in the smell of saltwater permeating the air.
It’s simple and nothing out of the ordinary. But in that moment, I was happy.
Happy with the simple fact that I could enjoy the warmth of the sun. Happy that in my solitude, I still found comfort in the presence of strangers… Just happy to be where I was at that very moment.
I couldn’t have ended the year with a more grateful heart.
Having worked as a flight attendant for the last six months, I have gone to places I didn’t even imagine I’d fly to this early on. I started right in the beginning of summer when flying was at its peak. In just a span of a week, I would fly across the country and then “across the pond” (how they like to refer to the Atlantic Ocean), and then back again to the States to do it all over again.
It was exhausting. But it never ceased to be amazing. I couldn’t wrap my head around the idea that I’d wake up in New York this morning, in Scotland tomorrow, and then in Chicago the following day. It’s all fun and games until I realized I didn’t really work well with the jetlag. Which, up until now, is what I believe is probably the most challenging aspect of this job.
I woke up in New York this morning—
miles away from home but
I realized I’ve already made
a home for myself here, too.
PHOTOS COURTESY OF KRISTELLE BATCHELOR
But I couldn’t find it in my heart to complain. Even after long duty days when work sometimes gets extended up to 13 hours, having me function with barely any sleep in me.
I couldn’t complain even after a passenger or two gave me a hard time about the most extraneous things on the plane. I couldn’t complain even if my feet are practically dead from wearing heels all day. I just couldn’t.
Not too long ago I was in a totally different place—never seeing myself deviating from writing, from being a journalist. For many years, I focused on journalism alone, having spent a good deal of my life writing for print and reporting on TV as a courtside reporter.
But when I migrated to the United States, the competitive work environment made it difficult me to pursue it any further. There was a point I could see it all slipping from my hands—what I once so easily achieved back home was resolved to being a dream yet to be continued.
How does someone just simply walk away from a passion? It seemed unthinkable. A part of me feels as if it still is. But life will make you learn that sometimes, you need to take the more practical route, should the circumstances call for it.
Growing up, I saw my mom have the very same job. I’ve always found it to be exquisite in spite of all the hard work it entails. I have this vivid memory of seeing her photo in front of the Eiffel Tower, thinking that maybe down the road, being a flight attendant could be a viable path for me, too.
Half a year in, I still find pleasure in the smallest things this job has to offer. I could be flying to a small town in Oklahoma, and on top of my priorities list is probably looking for a good place to grab dinner from. There was also that one time I enjoyed a glass of daiquiri in a tumbledown casino in Reno, Nevada (responsibly, before my next duty day!).
I also catch myself smiling whenever I think of my first Europe trip. It came as a surprise, the flight being assigned just the night before. Startled, there I was, immediately scrambling to search for places I could visit, bites to eat, and memories to make. Manchester may be a more modest version of London but I still had the best time there.
I had authentic fish and chips and walked the cobbled side streets of the city center, admiring the British culture that I only ever knew from novels I read growing up.
Shortly after, I was also assigned back-to-back trips to Edinburgh, Scotland. Which, to this day, is by far one of the most astonishing cities I’ve ever been to. It’s like Harry Potter straight out of the books! While this reference was wasted on someone who was never fond of the series, it was the same stunning landscape that blew my mind away.
In there, I was also able to try Scottish hog roast served in a roll. But didn’t have the guts to try out their main dish, haggis, which is made from sheep’s intestine.
It didn’t take long for me to land a London trip. London was a dream come true, gracing our visit with good weather (as the Brits call it, it’s a real potluck!). We walked the whole strip of Kensington Road that led to the Buckingham Palace, and onto the tremendous Palace of Westminster.
Of course, I didn’t miss the chance to take a shot with a red vintage telephone booth along the way. It was a bit of a bummer that the Big Ben was under construction and, for the next few years, won’t be the picturesque view we know it to be, but it was still such a sight to behold alongside the London Eye.
That same afternoon, I had a proper British High Tea complete with tea sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and jam, and an assortment of sweet pastries. We cleansed our palette with darjeeling tea and a glass of white wine, exactly how the British do it.
Months went on and I was lucky enough to visit Barcelona on a whim, an idea I had at the last minute. With only a backpack and camera in hand, I hopped on the flight for a spontaneous 24-hour trip.
The hostel I booked was located in a central location. Just walking distance away is La Rambla, which is abuzz with tourists checking out pedestrian shops and the famous Mercat de la Boqueria. There I feasted on some jamon de iberico, croquetas, and churros to name a few!
Aside from the food, the architecture in Barcelona was, of course, another highlight. My jaw literally dropped upon seeing Sagrada Familia, the unfinished basilica designed by Antoni Gaudi. It’s one of the most beautiful infrastructures I have ever seen. This, along with Casa Battlo—which is also situated in the heart of the city—is worth the visit.
I haven’t actually given much thought about how far and how wide I’ve traversed the world in the year that has just gone by. It’s still an overwhelming sensation—the mere attempt to take it all in. But I think I’ve been around long enough to witness that this job either turns you lackluster—given how the work eventually becomes monotonous—or grooms you to focus on the worldly things in life.
I still have my reservations at times, thinking how it could’ve turned out if I stuck it out with journalism. But I choose to hold on to the sunny disposition I’ve always had, and with it, continue seeing this world through rose-colored glasses.
KRISTELLE BATCHELOR IS A 24-YEAR-OLD FLIGHT ATTENDANT BASED IN NEW YORK CITY. SHE WAS A FORMER PRINT AND BROADCAST JOURNALIST IN THE PHILIPPINES.
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