Where do I begin??? All of the fun, adventure, generosity, bonding, laughs, new friendships and overall ‘time of my life moments’ that happened on this trip were a complete surprise. There are plenty of opportunities to party when working on the super yachts but for me, 9 times out 10, I will decline the late night drinking and go straight to bed, even with this amazing group of clients. They are so much fun and love for the crew to be part of the whole experience with them, it’s so awesome. But knowing that I have another 16 hour day ahead of me keeps me in at night, the majority of the time. Plus this trip was three weeks with three sets of clients rotating in; I was not planning on doing anything but resting in between. What I hadn’t factored in was that it had been exactly one month since my man and I had broken up and although I was booked with work the whole month to keep my mind occupied, I was really sad.
When you’re the Sole Stewardess and Mate on a 75 foot yacht, it can get lonely especially when you’re like me and go straight to bed most nights. Honestly, all of my boat owners and their friends treat me as if I was family; it’s the best feeling in the world. Most of them are couples or families and although I chat with them here and there throughout the day, hang with them from time to time or even venture out solo once in a while, it’s still just me at the end of the day. Please don’t feel bad for me though, I am one of the happiest and most blessed people I know but when someone was in your life for almost two years and then all of a sudden, in flash, they’re gone, it’s sad, even when the breakup was kind and mutual.
So here I am, Thursday, June 14th, 2018 on a plane to the Abacos staring out the window stuck in my own mind, letting go, reflecting and shedding tears, all good stuff. It was now time to be single again and I was beginning to be OK with it. The Captain (one of my favs) picked me up at the airport and we headed straight to the grocery store to provision. From there we took a taxi to the waterfront where his son, our dynamic Mate, was waiting with the tender to take us to Green Turtle Cay to meet the big boat. The rest of the day was spent unloading supplies and getting the yacht ready for the guests who were to arrive on Saturday. Here I am happily working away, not for one second thinking we would be doing anything but working and the boss says, “If we get all of our chores done by mid day Friday, then we can have the afternoon off.”
What, I just got here…..yahooooo!!! Here’s the kicker, this crew had lived there for 10 years which meant they knew every waterway, back road, fun watering holes, the best snorkel spots, restaurants, hidden beaches and tons of locals. I had no idea I was about to experience these places, several times, I just thought I was here to work for 3 weeks. The next day we packed a cooler for the tender and the three of us plus the Mate’s childhood friend, who was born and raised on Green Turtle Cay, (pronounced Key) headed out for the day.
Our first stop was Munjock Cay where you snorkel with sting rays, turtles and nurse sharks in water that is an indescribable color of blue. You just pull your boat right up to the sand, throw the anchor and jump right in. I was in complete awe of the water and wasn’t scared one bit while snorkeling right past them. Two years prior I was terrified of the water, grew up watching ‘Jaws’ too many times but after a little coaxing from my ex, decided to face my fears, earned my dive certification and just like that, I wasn’t scared anymore. Guess after seeing what was down there, it wasn’t so frightening after all.
The next destination was to No Name Cay an uninhabited island just south of Green Turtle. There you will find the Abacos version of Pig Island, ‘Piggyville’. There were tons of them running around the feeding station that was built for them all sniffing out what they did and did not want to eat. They are some picky eaters too and the big ones, evil, they will run right over the little ones and take their food. There are many different theories about how they ended up there, but no one really knows for sure, either way they were malnourished and dehydrated. Then years ago, apparently a local named Craig heard about the pigs, visited the island, fell in love and took it upon himself to make two trips a week with food and water. Between him, the tourist and Sunset Marine on Green Turtle, who donated a 2000 gallon fresh water tank, all the piggies are thriving.
This was day two of my three week paid job in the Abacos. I love my career and all the people in it who make my life that much more blessed!! The best part of this trip was that 90% of the places we went to were by boat, not car, which is now my favorite way to travel. After hanging with the pigs we headed for some food at Pineapples on Green Turtle followed by a bit of dancing at Sundowner’s before heading in for a good night’s rest. The first round of owners were arriving the next morning for five days so it was important to be sharp and full of energy. Make sure to tune in for my next story, there are still 19 days left of my trip with so many more adventures to tell you about!
To my readers who were expecting to read about my flight with Lindsey Lohan, I am sorry. Up until now I’ve been catching you up on my past but I need to fast forward to 2018 for the moment. We will return to where I left off in 2003 when I was working as a Corporate Flight Attendant, but for the next few episodes I need to tell you about how I ended up going from a front office clerk to being paid to live on a yacht in Montauk all summer.
Three years ago I gave up my stable, 6 year desk job to pursue a life on the super yachts. It was not easy. I worked in filthy shipyards, washed down boats all day long for $15 an hour and worked as a Stew on a totally illegal boat where marijuana smoked filled rooms were the norm and the Captain was always drunk, just to mention a few. What I discovered that stifling hot summer of 2015 was this quiet and huge community of yachts below 100 feet who were always in need of good, part time help.
That and this great job placement website that doesn’t make you fill out a lengthy on line profile and won’t ask your age. With most yacht placement companies you have to complete a pretty extensive, on line application, which includes disclosing your age. A 43 year old aspiring Jr. Stewardess with no experience are not what most headhunters are looking for, I know, I worked at one of those agencies for 6 years. Trying to find work that way was a waste of time, I would have to figure how get on those yachts by myself.
The majority of the work posted on this site was for yachts between 60 and 90 feet with short term contracts and typically US flagged which meant they can only hire US crew. Turns out this part of the market was in desperate need of someone like me!!! So every day I would read their newest job ads, send my resumes, follow up, interview, network and wait. Facebook was a big help too, acquired a few jobs from posting there. I did this everyday for months landing a few detailing jobs or day charters but then nothing would come of it.
Apparently the ‘freelance’ help they tended to get were always either showing up wasted, not at all or getting hammered with the clients. These poor Captains had to frantically search for a Stew/Mate when it was time to take a trip because for that size range, owners would typically only keep Captains on full time. They would need to find someone who was not only fantastic with hospitality and housekeeping but also someone to help the Captain with navigation and the exterior duties. Here I come, older yes, but fit, eager, desperate and with a killer work ethic, common sense, endless energy, a constant smile and a tiny bit of work on deck.
I was happy to clean engine rooms, babysit kids, cook, walk dogs, jump off the boat to secure lines when no one was at the dock to help, you name it, I did it. Plus my party days were behind me, I still have fun but when I’m working, I tone it down. Showing up early and not hungover was highly appreciated but the work still wasn’t consistent! For six months I stressed every day and wondered if I had made the right move. All I wanted was a shot to show them what I had to offer even though I was brand new to the industry.
Then one day, my hard work paid off. The work just kept coming in and all by referral. By month 8 I had a fleet of 70 foot (give or take) yachts keeping me busy, each a few days a month, sometimes more. I loved it. Freelance was the best, there was no living in small quarters like sardines with a bunch of people you may or may not get along with and I didn’t have to move out of my cute one bedroom duplex where I had been for 5 years. Business was booming and I was continually learning new skills.
By July 2016, the one year mark as my own boss, I was constantly on the road working from yacht to yacht therefore it was time to give up my duplex that I was never in and live on the road for a while. I downsized, put a few things in storage and decided to try and live out of my suitcase for one year. Never once did I wonder where I would live or how I would survive…no idea what I was thinking. It turned out to be a great decision though because that one year on the road turned into two, then 3….but I don’t want to spoil the end.
What’s crazy is that the week me place was rented and i had no where to live but ended up meeting a wonderful man on Tinder while on a job in the St. Maarten. He was like no one I’d ever dated before and lived between the Islands and Europe working on his computer as an IT expert. After a one week romance, he asked me to move my suitcase aboard and give love a try. You’ll hear more about him later.
The few times I needed a couch to surf on back in Laudy I had my niece, good friends, my parents in Indiana and my new man’s catamaran in St. Maarten, his condo in Gibralter or the various places he would fly me too. Those stories I will get to later, you’ll just have to keep tuning in…
Now having a long distance relationship can go many ways depending on the couple and the circumstances. Dating me with my crazy travel schedule required a confidant man and one that I could have faith in as well. But with the “Best Boyfriend Ever” (BBE) by my side, we made it work, from different parts of the world, for almost 2 years. Overtime the week’s apart slowly turned into months apart and then we started to drift apart. From June 2017 to March 2018 we had only spent a total of 9 weeks together, but it worked for us, so we kept going. Our last trip was two weeks in Australia after almost 3 months of separation and we had a blast, everything was looking up. Then a few weeks after our trip, I received two job offers for this summer I couldn’t refuse. Taking them would mean at least another 4 months away from my man and there wasn’t much time to make a decision.
The first offer was 3 weeks in the Abacos with one of my busiest and most fun boats. These clients were all from the Midwest and treated me like family. Always inviting the crew along to have drinks or dinner, which was great, but up to this point, I would usually decline so that I could get a good night’s sleep. Yachting days are minimum 12 hours since we are typically up before the clients and still going strong well past dinner time. Little did I know at that point that my no partying rule while working doesn’t apply when in the Bahamas. (details in my next episode) After that I had two days to repack and get my things in order before moving onto job offer number two, three months on Long Island, two of them in Montauk.
It was ideal; I would live on the boat alone with the owner’s only coming on the weekends and get to spend my summer in the hottest spot in New York. For this gypsy child living out of her suitcase, this meant 4 months of free housing, not having to couch surf and all the food I could eat for free, how could I say no????
I accepted both offers and then broke the news to my man. At first we figured we could handle it, but then something changed and before you knew, we broke up. I was sad, not like I was in the past, when I was younger because by the time you hit your 40’s you tend to get used to stuff ending. You learn to take it in stride, almost become numb to it. But for good or bad reasons, it’s never easy to let someone go who was your best friend for 2 years. He seemed to always be on the other end of the line waiting for a chance to rescue the girl who never asked for anything, no matter where I was in the world….my Knight in Shining Armor. Plus, I was not looking forward to being single again. Before him, I was solo for 5 years, yep, long time and I was happy single, but I was also happy in my relationship.
So here I am, just turned 46 with a very successful career, the best body of my life and now the freedom to be fun and flirty with other boys…hello summer 2018!!!!
After one more failed attempt to find Cameron’s mobile, her assistant and I headed into the lobby to deliver the bad news. As we walked in, the pilots and the coolest actress ever were standing in a line just waiting to hear the news. Even though I knew I did not have her phone, it felt as though I was still guilty of something. You know that feeling when a police car is behind you on the road and even though you are doing nothing wrong, you start to panic, like you did do something??? That was me!! My day went from an epic high being told by Cameron Diaz that I was pretty and super cool to her now thinking I was still that street kid from my past that could clean out a K-mart without them ever knowing they had been robbed.
She was cool about it, kind of annoyed but cool and gave me her assistant’s number to call if it magically appeared. I spent another hour in that plane, searching the same corners over and over and the only thing I found was one of her hair extensions. For whatever reason, I chuckled and tucked it in my pocket. Obviously sleeping that night was rough and first thing the next morning I texted her assistant with trembling hands to find out what had happened. She simply said, ‘Oh we found it’ and that was it.
Since Cali is such a long flight from Florida, the jet company had us wait there a few days to see if they could book a paid charter back home or somewhere else for that matter. Like clockwork I was out every night drinking my face off and trying to find a boy to hang with. And like clockwork, I found one. Mr. Politician was quite young to be serving a term in office but after getting to know each other I soon learned that he was still at the bottom on the barrel trying to work his way up. He wasn’t really my type, which at the time was typically someone with 6 pack abs who was movie star hot and would most likely treat me bad or cheat on me.
Mr. P was just an average guy with an enormous personality who made me laugh hysterically every time we hung out. He had a car too which was like gold to me since in this particular California city, the jet company would always put us up at the airport hotel, a good hour’s drive to anything fun or cool. This meant my one option for excitement was the lobby bar and even though I was making good money, it didn’t seem reasonable to pay a taxi to go anywhere else. And although I didn’t know it at the time, we were about to see each other quite frequently since this city was a major stop for celebrities.
After about 4 days of hanging out and waiting for the call, we finally received our next charter. We were to pick up Tommy Lee Jones in Texas and drop him in Miami. Wow, in the almost 5 months of working on the private jets, we had flown to Europe at least 3 times and this was now my 3rd or 4th movie star. Eight months prior, I had never even been out of the Country and movie stars were just those tiny people on TV, like when they shrunk the loud kid in Willy Wonka. This was so exciting!
When he boarded the plane, alone, he sat down, asked for a beer then kind of kicked back and said he just wanted to chill. We had about 3 hours to Miami so I offered him a deck of cards, showed him how to work the TV and mentioned that I would be back in bit to check on him but if he needed anything in the meantime, to let me know. This jet was my favorite because instead of me having to chill on the tiny jump seat behind the pilots that hides in the wall, I had a huge, plush recliner with a tray and my own little TV. About 4 minutes after having settled into my seat, Mr. Jones pops his head in and says, ‘You know, I would like to play some cards…you know how to play poker?’ At this point I was beginning to feel a bit used to seeing these famous people so in a casual tone I responded, ‘Sure, but you’ll probably kick my butt.’ He headed back as I opened two small bags of peanuts to gamble with, poured each one in a small bowl and grabbed him a fresh beer. Here I was, sitting across from Tommy Lee Jones, 4 feet from his face, casually chatting about life and playing five card stud. He loved betting with those peanuts, said it was a clever idea. For about the first 2 hours he never seemed to crack a smile, instead he was very serious, but candid and joked a lot without ever laughing at his own punch lines.
Being the competitive soul that I am, I was determined to make him smile and I like to think that I’m pretty funny. Then it happened, he asked me about my parents. I proceeded to tell him how cool they were and how I learned my hard work ethic from them. Then I said, ‘you remind me a lot of my dad and he’s good looking, so that’s a compliment.’ He was looking down at his cards extremely focused on his next move when all of a sudden he paused, looked up at me with one eye while raising his brow and let out a chuckle with a faint glimpse of a smile!!! Whooooo Hooooo…..was what my brain was yelling but my face remained calm and for the last 40 minutes we continued our card game while laughing and carrying on the whole time. As he left the plane, he shook my hand and thanked me for a wonderful flight.
I barely had time to comprehend what had just happened when the pilots informed me that for our next flight, we would be picking up Lindsay Lohan….
Now that I had met another new best friend, I wanted to be single. But poor Dan had just spent $8000 on a stunning engagement ring, even though we had only known each other for 6 weeks. The many things about him that bothered me were now even more annoying, but he was so sweet, what was I to do? The fights kept coming, all provoked by me. All of a sudden I was questioning him about what he did while I was out of town and why he didn’t answer his cell phone when I was around. To be honest, I was legitimately jealous and couldn’t believe it. I had thought the past was behind me, that maybe it was possible for me to date without being crazy jealous. There was no way this man would have cheated on me and I see that now, but in 2003, at 31, I was still insecure. My body wasn’t terrible and I was a cute girl, fun, outgoing and obviously brave having picked up and moved from Indiana all the way to Florida, so why did I still think every man was cheating on me?
One night, as we were eating take out, I started arguing with him over something dumb I’m sure. Somehow I managed to make him think it was his fault, when in reality, it was me, I was manipulative and evil and I knew it, but I wanted out and didn’t have the heart to tell him. So I stormed out of his place leaving the ring on the kitchen counter and headed out to go party. He couldn’t believe his eyes and to this day, I still feel a bit guilty for what happened!!
My new friend Cathy lived just around the corner but was out of town so I headed straight to the coolest spot around. Shooters was this huge restaurant/bar on the water with plenty of slips for boats to dock and they did, tons of them. This place was always packed with heavy hitters hanging out at the bar and on Sunday’s they typically held a bikini contest by their pool. This was the perfect spot to go, one because I wanted to meet boys, but also because it was so crowded I figured maybe no one would notice I was alone. At this point I had only been flying for a couple of months and while on the road, most nights, was still clinging on to the pilots to hang out with. I did venture out once in a while alone but once I walked into this place, it felt like everyone knew I had no friends.
There was no way anyone could have known I was by myself but my insecurities had the best of me so off to the bathroom I went to figure out my next move. As always, I was chatting with the bathroom attendant lady spilling my troubles to her about leaving my fiancé and feeling weird about being alone when the most magnificent girl came busting out of the stall and in my direction. She overheard my conversation, was also there solo and wanted to know if we could hang together??? My savior Farah was blonde, fit, super fun, brave and loved boating. She grabbed my arm and off we went, like balls of fire through that crowd. My goal was to hang at the bar but not Farah, she was determined to get us on one of those yachts…and she did!!
Within minutes, we were drinking for free and mingling with the elite on an 80 foot boat. I had never been on one before and was just in awe of how beautiful it was. After a few hours Dan had been erased from my memory, I was the happiest single girl in Ft. Lauderdale and now had new bestie number two! To this day, her and Cathy are two of only a few friends that I’ve met in the 15 years of living in South Florida who are real, honest and genuine.
Life could not have been better!! I lived in a huge house on the water for dirt cheap, was making $300 a day flying around the world, single and had two girlfriends that loved to go out and party…and that we did, anytime I was in town, until my flight with Cameron Diaz almost ruined everything. We picked her and 5 other people up in Miami and were taking them to California, about a 5 hour flight. She had just finished filming a movie so the plane was overflowing with luggage from their long stay. What was so cool about her was that she had no entourage, no body guards and seemed to have driven herself there in a regular car, not a limo or a chauffeured vehicle. When Cameron boarded the plane, the first thing she did was run right over to me and asked if Carrie Grant was really my name? She thought that was the coolest thing and then proceeded to tell me how pretty I was and that I reminded her of a good friend, which was a compliment because her friend was awesome.
In my head, blasting loudly were the words OMG, OMG, OMG but on the outside I was cool as a cucumber while pouring everyone champagne. She was the most normal celebrity, fame had not ruined her or made her feel as though she was better than anyone else and at that point, it was the coolest day of my life. There was one boy with the group, not a body guard or someone famous, just a friend and as everyone was falling asleep, asked if I wanted to play cards to pass the time. I was so happy because with nothing to do since they were all passed out would mean that I would have had to sit in the cockpit on the most uncomfortable and smallest seat ever. It was located just behind the pilots, pulled out of the wall and was definitely not made for comfort or long distance flights.
Once landing, Cameron and her friends all hugged me as if we had know each other all of our lives. Since there were so many bags, the crew and I helped to take everything inside and then loaded them up in her SUV, which once again, she drove herself. The pilots were busy making our hotel reservation at the front desk and I was heading back to the plane to get it cleaned up when all of a sudden we heard Cameron yell, ‘I can’t find my cell phone’!!! ‘No problem, I’ll go and search the jet’. About 20 minutes in, there was no phone to be found anywhere on that plane and I began to panic. Her assistant was now searching with me and in so many words managed to get across that I was the only person in that fuselage the whole flight that they didn’t know, which meant they thought I stole it. To make things worse, she knew my name, and if Cameron wanted to, she could smear my reputation across Hollywood….
It didn’t take me long to change my mind. After gobbling down the cheese and inhaling the free bottle of wine, I was dressed up and ready to go out. The stalker scare at the French hotel pool had me freaked out for like 2 hours but once the wine kicked in, I was all of a sudden brave again and couldn’t wait to go dancing. Then just as I was heading out the door, the hotel phone rang. A hot wave of fear came rushing over my body as I picked up the receiver. Maybe it was the pilots checking to see if I wanted to go out or maybe it was the mystery creeper who sent me the wine and cheese.
‘Bonjour’, I said trying not to sound American to maybe throw him off only to hear Dan on the other end. ‘Hey Carrie, did you get my surprise at the pool’? What??? The man I had been hanging out with back in Laudy for like 2 weeks went through the trouble of calling the hotel, tracking me down at the pool (in France) and surprising me with wine and cheese, wow, what a doll!!!! We had a good laugh as I told him about my day. He apologized a million times for freaking me out which I insisted was not a problem because what he did was super romantic. I could tell right away my feelings for him had gone from just a guy to pass the time with to now a man who I could possibly take seriously.
Once I returned, every day I wasn’t flying around the world, we would spend together. After about a month, it was time to ask him what he did for a living. At first I figured maybe he was like one of these guys you see in the movies who had a secret agent man job where they can’t really tell you what they do or what if he was just some self made millionaire who managed to make enough money to retire young? Either way, it was time to find out. It was very strange that he dressed impeccably every day, but never went to a job. The answer was not what I expected and certainly not attractive, at least to me back then because I was still very insecure and had no idea what to look for in a man. Apparently his Grandmother had passed and left him a trust fund which he was now living off of. Really, that’s it, that’s the big story? Dan was like 38, blew through money like water and expected this money to last him another 50 years?
I’m a worker and even if I inherited tons of money, I’m still going to do something I love to keep busy and feel good about myself. So to me, a man who just takes that kind of money and doesn’t do something wonderful, or useful with it or his time, just isn’t sexy. To others it may be a dream come true but to me, back then and even more now, at 46, what I consider hot is a man in constant motion, always keeping busy with his mind.
He then said that he was working on a business idea with a buddy of his but it was on hold at the moment. At the time, I believed him because, one, he was so sweet and spoiling me and two, I had kind of fallen for him. In my heart I wanted it to be true so I figured what the hell, we’re not married and had just started dating so I’ll just keep it casual and see what happens. Besides, I was quickly discovering that the people I had been meeting in S. Florida were super fake and materialistic. Finding real friends was hard in that town and we had fun together.
But to be honest, we didn’t have much passion, he didn’t believe in recycling or taking care of the environment, my dog wasn’t really his thing and when it came to handy work, Dan only knew how to dial someone to come and do things for him. But you know women, in our minds; we can change a man and mold him into what we consider the perfect guy. He already had a good base so now I was on a mission to change everything about him and the poor guy had no idea.
About a week later, we hit one of those outdoor strip malls to do a little shopping and in the parking lot was a Jared’s jewelry store. Dan thought it would be a good idea to stop in, he wanted to buy me a sort of promise ring to show how he felt for me, which I thought was really cool. At almost 31 years old no one had ever asked me or even considered asking me to marry them. If you had read my past blogs you’ll remember that I was a crazy, jealous girlfriend who couldn’t handle her alcohol well so I could understand why I was still single.
Well that promise ring turned into an $8000 engagement ring…..yep, the next thing you know, I was getting married. All of the things about him that bothered me seemed to disappear and just like clockwork, I was staying with a guy because he wanted to be with me, not because he was my perfect match or because I was in love. The girl who was afraid to be alone was making the same dating mistakes from her past. I had no friends, no family and had been away from home so long, I had forgotten what it was like to be part of something, to be loved so why not marry him, I was now in my 30’s and it was about time.
During all of this courting I had managed to fly my 13 year old niece in from Indiana for her spring break. One day we were at the beach when I met the coolest chic and right away I could tell she was just like me. Cathy wasn’t materialistic, loved to go out, be fit, have fun and had was completely normal. I was so excited to have a friend. She lived walking distance from a really cool strip of bars and restaurants by the beach and since I didn’t like to drink and drive, said I could totally crash at her place after we went out. So that night, we hit the strip, had the best time and ended up meeting tons of cool people who also hung out there. She and I would just sit on her balcony for hours, sipping wine and talking nonstop. Cathy had recently been through a terrible tragedy and was still in mourning from the ordeal and like me, only had a friend or two, but not really anyone she could hang out and party with. I was the perfect distraction for her and she was the perfect new bestie for me.
As the weeks went on and the wedding planning began, for whatever reason, I began to sabotage the whole thing. Starting fights, questioning his loyalty, picking out everything that bothered me about him. At one point Dan looked right at me and said, ‘Carrie, it’s me, I’m a good guy, why are you doing this?’ At the time I didn’t know why, but in hindsight, I see now that he was all wrong for me and with my new bestie in tow, Dan was becoming obsolete. I was now engaged to a man that I didn’t love and had no idea what I was I going to do????
This was now the second time I decided to move across state lines for a boy. And this was the second time it failed. One day after moving to Orlando, I caught him at the beach with another women! Between my broken heart, paying double rent, student loans, credit card bills and endless bar tabs, I was a mess. If it wasn’t for the $1 menu at McDonald’s and the cheap hot dog vendors at 3 am, I would have starved. I was extremely unhealthy, drank too much and was out of control. The sad part was that compared to where I had just moved from, life was pretty good. Here I am, living in Orlando, newly single with a steady job and a fantastic apartment, but none of that mattered. I was 23, broke, alone and desperate to be in love.❤
Dating was like playing the lottery, the odds of winning were 1 in a million, but I kept playing anyway.
Unfortunately my mom was always working, so there wasn’t much time to teach me about boys. But she did mention one thing that stuck with me, mom said, ‘Carrie, don’t ever feel that you have to get married or have children’. I don’t remember if I ever asked why and to be honest, it probably went in one ear and out the other, but looking back on it now, she was absolutely right.
I was obsessed with finding love and it’s all Cinderella’s fault. Her and all those silly fairy tale books we read as kids.
I thought happiness meant you had to have a man. On girls night out, it was hard to enjoy myself because all I ever wanted to do was find a man, get married and have his babies!!!!
I think if I had a daughter, she would be reading books on how to be her own boss, make money and travel the world. The ones that say to wait around for a Prince are sweet, but there needs to be variety.
Plus they painted a picture that seemed so easy to achieve. Society and family pressure didn’t help either. Up until the last few years, it was strange if you weren’t married by 25 and by 30, you were almost considered too old to marry.
When I was young, it seemed instead of traveling the world, discovering themselves or dating a bit to see what kind of person was right for them, adults did as they were told. They married young, bought a house, had children and got a job. That was my plan too, but the keeper of my destiny had a different plan.
And then, out of the blue, he called, my ‘older man, the one I swore off because he was already taken. The man who taught me about fine wines, girly clothes and elegant dinners. I knew it was wrong to talk to him, but when all you see are dark clouds and broken dreams, you do things you normally wouldn’t do, so I answered the phone…
Most of my wonder years were spent shooting guns, playing in the woods, building fires, and beating up boys, but dating boys, ew! I played with them, not kissed them. Around 14, in 9th grade, one of the pretty and popular girls invited me to her slumber party. Now you’ve seen the black and white Junior High photo of me in my last blog, I was not about to be nominated for the prettiest girl in class and I certainly had no sense of girly style or friends. Talk about nervous! Of course some of the hot football players decided to crash the party and that’s when I met my first love.
What he saw in me and my 3 inch think glasses and boy clothes, I have no idea, but I was so happy. He was shy, but played football so he hung with the cool kids. We dated all through the school year until he broke my heart for one of the hip girls. But within weeks, we were back together until summer, when I broke up with him after I woke up one morning with boobs and contacts. All of a sudden boys were noticing me and I liked it! Being single was short lived as I met another young man that summer from the rival high school with a convertible and muscles.
Now you may think bullying is a new thing, but you are very wrong. We started high school in our Sophomore year which was a combination of the 2 local Junior Highs. Since I had ditched the glasses for contacts, grew out my hair and found a sense of style and confidence, I was hardly recognizable. Within days, the cool girls in school made my life hell. They would push me down, knock the books out of my hands, corner me in the bathroom, threaten and yell terrible things at me and spread rumors to make everyone think I was the town slut! I was far from it and was happily dating my handsome man from the other high school. At one point, it was so bad, I refused to even show up, almost 2 weeks I think it was. The principal had to come to my house and make a deal to get me to come back. It never stopped and I spent many Saturdays in detention from getting in fights that I never started. It was always the girls from the rival Jr, High too, the same click, none of them liked me and to this day I have no idea why.
But I persevered, made the dance squad, got a job, played on some sports teams and had a few good friends who knew the real me. It was hard though, everyday as I walked the halls I never knew who was going to give me grief. Why? I had a boyfriend, kept to myself, didn’t bother anyone, it wasn’t fare.
I even got into body building at the school gym, was going to compete one day, wanted legs like Cory Everson. I was benching 145 pounds on the free weights.
After calming from my panic attack, I drove to the beach, parked, walked over to a bar, ordered a double and found a palm tree to chill on. After taking in the magnitude of what I had just done, I dialed both my parents. Dad of course never worried, he thought I was indestructible, like Keanu Reeves in the Matrix, (he actually said that) and figured I would be fine. Mom was cool, she always worried but I was 43 and she had grown used to me giving her gray hairs.
Throughout my life if when there was something I wanted to do, I typically made it happen. They weren’t always the best decisions but I was stubborn, had been on my own most of the time so no one was telling me what to do. I was either running from one boyfriend to a new zip code or following another to a new state. Often I would move for a job, or have no job at all, just an a photo of somewhere awesome I wanted to live. If there was too much thought put into it, I would talk myself out of it. That’s how I made it from growing up in Indiana before moving to Illinois, Georgia, Orlando, Tampa, Fort Lauderdale and St. Maarten and eventually seeing the world. Usually with only a few bucks in my pocket, a small truck full of stuff and a dumb idea.
See, at 43 everyone in yachting would have told me I was nuts if I had said I was quitting a perfectly good job to work on yachts. I new it too! As a Crew Agent, I learned all about how it works. Typically once the aspiring yachtie graduates college, they pack a bag and head for the nearest crewing agency to apply for work. The hierarchy is similar to the military, there are ranks and usually the higher you are on the food chain, the older you are. Now that’s the norm for yachts with 4 or more crew, anywhere between 100 and 300 plus feet but the boats under a 100 feet ran things a bit differently and age was not a big deal. Especially for me because I was in the best shape of my life and could run circles around some of those young girls.
As I was sipping my adult beverage and having a good cry, all of this occurred to me and it scared me to death. I immediately text the owner of the yacht I had just worked on but he specifically told me not to quit my day job because there was no guarantee he could keep me busy. It was summer time in South Florida, the slowest time of the year for yacht charters and he was a private owner, didn’t use a broker. But of course, I didn’t listen so here I am, again, back to square one. Even though everything seemed hopeless at this point, I still felt relieved and so glad I left that job.
Let me start from the beginning…
I guess the story would be more interesting if you had an idea of who I was and where I came from. Northwest Indiana was a great place to be a kid. We experienced leaves turning in the fall, flowers blooming in the spring and snow falling in the winter. When it was warm and sunny, 4 whole months of the year, we were outside all day long riding bikes, swimming in pools, playing sports, building forts, burning bonfires and carving out trails in the woods.
Growing up, like many of my friends in the 70’s, I had 2 homes. My parents split when I was 3, which I don’t really recall, just always seemed normal to spend the weekends with Dad and his new family and the week with Mom. Dad had a good city job, Monday through Friday’s typically but Mom’s schedule was a bit all over. She waited tables and tended bar at night in a local Mexican restaurant, often not getting home until 1 and 2 in the morning. I used to wait up, watching TV show’s like ‘The Honeymooners’, ‘All in the Family’ and ‘Sanford and Son’ to stay awake. As soon as I heard her pull up, I would run downstairs to greet her and be the first to see what kind of Mexican food she would bring home from the restaurant, it was always delicious.
Often, I would go with her to work, helping out in the kitchen, taking orders, serving food, clearing tables and washing dishes. I loved going to work with Mom, even at 10 years old, hospitality was natural to me. It also gave me a better appreciation of how hard her job was. Dad had a big yard with plenty of tree’s and grass to take care of. In the summer, the leaves and twigs never stopped falling. We would spend hours raking and bagging them up only to turn around and have to start all over again. In the winter, it seemed we were always shoveling snow and I hated it all! But I owe both of my folks a big Thank You, because if they had just let us watch TV and play Atari, my work ethic would not be as strong as it is today!
Like most siblings, we would fight, a lot! Mom would leave for work as soon as we came home from school. That meant we could do whatever we wanted until she got home….and we did. (homework was not one of them) There were 3 of us, me being the youngest, I seemed to always be left alone. My older brother and sister were supposed to keep an eye on me, but they were older and had better things to do.
That was OK with me because there were lot’s of kids in the neighborhood, mostly boys and a few girls. Between fighting with my siblings, hanging with my Marine Vietnam Veteran Dad and being one of the ‘guys’, I became pretty tough. And back then, instead of cell phones and computers, we had pellet guns, the woods, motor bikes, forts, kick the can, ditch on bikes and TV tag.
The one thing we didn’t have was parental supervision when at mom’s during the week. I also had to figure out boys and dating on my own and that was disastrous, even to this day, I still can’t figure out how to have a successful relationship. And style?? Forget about it!! There wasn’t much money for designer clothes and even if there was I had no idea what to wear. My hair was awful, I wore super thick glasses because I couldn’t see 2 feet in front of my face, was not popular and an OK student. 9th grade most of the girls had hit puberty sporting their new boobs while I was flat as a board. I did experience my first love though, he was sweet, we dated the whole year and broke up by summer.
I wasn’t sad anymore either about the breakup because out of no where my boobs grew, mom saved up and bought me contacts, my friend got a car and I had a job at McDonald’s. All of a sudden, the boys were noticing me and it was AWESOME!!
10th grade was coming and it was scary because our Jr. High combines with the other Jr. High in the High School building. What if my friends didn’t have the same lunch hour or the older students were bullies??? I’ll tell you what, High School was not fun, I was bullied from day one and did nothing to deserve it….