About how for the one day I was an American / New York City

For the one day I was an American.
That one day I was walking on SoHo and watching the mannequins with my eyes wide open, I was riding on the Wall Street and observing with disbelief how true is what they say, “slow down” said noone ever on the Wall Street.
I was eating a creamy chocolate ice cream of the size of my two fists together in the Central Park and laughing at the tiny dogs struggling to follow their jogging owners along 8th Avenue, five minutes walk from Broadway.
I was smiling to the massive billboards on the Times Square, and they were smiling back, and while listening to the Nat King Cole singing Smile, what’s the use of crying, you’ll find that life is still worthwhile If you just smile I thought,
the life is great.


This journey has started a bit different from all the others.
Once a year I have a reserve month. This means that I get no roster for the following month and have basically no idea where am I going next, how long for, and whether I’ll sleep in my own bed or in the one thousand miles away.
I suppose it does sound exciting, but believe me, it costs a lot of nerves too. My bag is lying on the floor packed: half filled with sweaters and jeans, the other half with bikinis and flip flops.
I pray that once I’ll pick up the phone the voice in the speaker will say “hi Emilia, you are going to San Francisco”. Or something like that. Or at least somewhere with grass. And trees. After all these days spent in melting Dubai, that is more than enough to keep me happy.

So I’m lying in bed, watching Al Pacino in Donnie Brasco and feeling like a proper New York gangster. I feel so much like an American wise man that if I had a cigar I would be sitting there smoking it in my bed. If you know what I mean.
The phone is ringing like stupid and when I pick it up mechanically what I hear is that in four hours I’m going to the New York city. It feels great. It actually feels so great that I put Louis Armstrong’s What a wonderful world and we sing together when I’m putting my clothes on.
It is okay that I’m tired,
I’m leaving today
I want to be the part of it
New York, New York

The first thing I remember is the view of the old cemetery. All the concrete crosses looking the same, a bit too tall and a bit too grey, set into the long rows measured with mathematical precision contrasted with the background of all the tall buildings in any possible shape and size you could imagine, smiling to you with the promise, if you make it here, you can make it anywhere. This view had something powerful in it, the contrast of the dead cemetery and the city more alive than anything I have ever seen in my life kept my eyes wide opened for the whole New York morning traffic journey.
And the New York traffic is the real deal, I’m telling you.



It hasn’t even crossed my mind to get into the bed after twelve hours flight. The New York city is not a place to sleep. It doesn’t matter how tired you are: every street forming another square filled with another high building, carrying another yellow taxi that sound merged into one melody with thousands of others will call you to come and become a part of it.
The thing about New York is, that the moment you get there, you don’t feel like a tourist or outsider anymore. You are a part of it. It doesn’t matter whether you are black, or white, or Asian, or whether you wear funny pants, or your dog is wearing funny pants. It makes you fit.
The moment you step out, you become the part of the picture.


As much as I like going out and exploring with others, I couldn’t wait to be in New York by myself. When you are on your own, everything gets more vivid. You know where you want to go and what you want to do there. Strangers are more friendly. Shop assistants and homeless people talk to you, people on the streets smile when you’re passing by. The possibility of getting lost makes your brain draw a map, and constantly fill it with new nooks and crannies. This is how you make friends with a place.
And I really wanted to make friends with New York.

I think a lot of what makes New York, is what you have already seen and it doesn’t matter whether you’ve been there or not yet. If you have a little bit of imagination and you’re able to see Frank Sinatra singing in the old style jazz club on Broadway filled with a smoke from long, thin cigarettes, or a man playing a solo on his golden saxophone from the little balcony above the street on SoHo, if you can see with your eyes how Jay Gatsby crosses the Brooklyn bridge in his car, how Marilyn Monroe presses a dress to her knees on the Times Square, how Al Pacino walks down with Johnny Deep on the streets of Little Italy wearing dark glasses and heavy coats, it doesn’t matter whether you’re there for a day, or forever, you will feel like the happiest person on the globe, just like I did.


So that would be all that I wanted to say about the New York.
And if you are wondering whether Downtown and Central Park look the way they show them on the movies, and all that fuss about America is there for any reason, and if you’re curious whether it’s worth to fly around the North Pole to see it all, I suppose I’m too much of a dreamer to give you the right answer.

Unless you are thinking about selling your fridge and buying a plane ticket.
Than listen, sell your fridge and get a ticket,
if you know what I mean

About being 32,000 ft above the ground

I love my job

I love my job

Juices, water, soft drinks. More cups. Too much water. I am preparing the cart for the next service. I am doing it mechanically, I feel like I’ve done it so many times now. In the meantime somebody pops up in the kitchen and asks me for the tea. I make the tea, we talk.

Where are you flying to?

This is the question I asked so many times, it could be my name now. It comes out of my mouth naturally, feels almost like I was breathing it out. But it isn’t worn out. The answers still make me smile. The interest on my face is not fake. I want to know. I still can’t believe all the crazy places that people go to, and all the different reasons they have. I am just as passionate about traveling as I was being seventeen. There is more that one million reasons to fly.

The man asks me whether I miss my family. We’ve been already flying for ten hours. I haven’t slept for around twenty, the time zone change is killing me. It is dark in the cabin. All the windows are closed and most of the passengers sleep, some of them stretch their legs next to the kitchen, some watch the movie. From time to time I open the window blind just to look outside, but there is no Sun, it is still dark outside. All the big cities we are passing by look like Christmas trees. Looking at them calms me down. I think about what people do. I wonder whether they are happy. Once I saw how the half of some city got cut out from electricity. I looked at it, and the part of it just turned black, like it was never there.

You know, when the mine gets cut off, or some massive shopping center, everything just stops, people panic, some die.

But when I am up there and I see a part of the world going black, I don’t think about any of these. It is too far away to think about it. It just doesn’t feel realistic.

When the man asks me the question, I feel confused. I do miss my family. And I miss my friends. But I haven’t seen the Sun for more than fifteen hours, we are going West. What I miss the most at this very moment is the world. I think about blending strawberries. I want to blend strawberries. I miss the sound of the cars in the morning, when I sit on the balcony and drink my tea. I miss it how the day changes, how it cools down in the evening and people go out from their houses. I miss people riding their bikes. I miss making a grocery shopping and sitting in my bed eating chocolate. All these things feel so far away. They feel much more afar than these 32,000 ft that actually separates me from them and I don’t know which reality is real: the one up there, or the one I miss.

It is still five more hours to go. I feel tired. But not frustrated. I am doing my job. There is a young mum with a nine months baby girl on her lap in my cabin. The baby girl cries, and the older lady sitting next to her tries to help her best. She smiles.

There is around sixty people in the cabin I am responsible for. All the different kind of people: mother with babies, elderly going on the life trip, students, people who don’t speak any English, people who are tired, sad, happy, excited. I probably won’t recognize their faces on ground, but that is okay, they won’t recognize me neither.

One man comes to the kitchen to stretch his legs. I get him a water. His accent is Australian, but he tells me he goes to Warsaw. It makes me happy. We change to Polish, which uncomfortably distances us with it’s formal “Pan, Pani” (tr. Sir, Madam). It takes a while until our native language start sounding natural.

He moved to Adelaide in 1981, running away from the occupation in Poland. He tells me about these times, and they are still alive in the way he talks about them. There was nothing there, only fear, it didn’t look anything like Poland he is going to see again in next 10 hours. I asked him, why Adelaide. He doesn’t know. He didn’t choose. It was the only place he could go to¬†right now, and back than he couldn’t wait, so he took his things, he took his wife and moved to the other end of the globe, knowing anything about it. We talk for quite a while. He says that life in Australia is just easier. It goes smoother, and that is where he belongs. But we also agree on the way it feels to hear your mother tongue up there, when you don’t expect to hear it at all. It feels a little bit like, out of a sudden, you were being reminded of who you are by a stranger. It is not an easy feeling to describe.

When I am in the plane I think differently. I think a lot about the consequences. I think what may happen, if this container is not latched properly. I think what may happen, when you stand up from your seat too early, or don’t put your seat belt on, or when I am too tired to think and to focus my vision at the fixed point. It is a job and as every job you do most of your time, it turns into a routine. But the part of my routine is also to think, at every single take off and landing, about how to evacuate all of my passengers the quickest I can. Whether I can open my doors or not. Whether I can open or block my doors if we land on water. I make sure whether the sound that the plane made, while the wheels got out is normal. Whether the wing looks all right. I think about where the oxygen bottle is, in case if the lady sitting in front of me looking pale faints. I wonder what medicines takes the older man in the other seat and whether it won’t work differently in the cabin pressure.

What I wanted to say is, that after fifteen hours flight you can forget you are the human being. You don’t think about whether you have to do washing next day or not, or whether your bills are paid. Up there everything is different. The air feels different. The sounds are different. Me, other crew (that I only met few hours ago), and all the three hundred people who go around the world for their own, unique reasons are in this all together. You can be tired to the point you are not sure whether you can stand straight, but you are responsible and there is no way out. I think this is my greatest lesson from my job. There is no way out different than patience.

Being a cabin crew is not only about going to all these amazing places and taking photos with the Eiffel Tower, buying all these great souvenirs and sending postcards to your friends, looking great on the airports.

You know what do I dream about when we get on the ground? That maybe somebody waits for me with the flowers on the airport. I always catch myself staring at name plates people hold on waiting in the arrivals meeting point. They stare at me too, but none of the plates has my name written on it. We go straight to the bus, load the suitcases.

The job is done.