It was something my mother couldn’t understand, it even was difficult to my dad with his twenty-one-century mind to process. Even my sister with her free spirit and young soul, I made this decision by myself and I stand by it. I want to leave.
I’m not trying to escape - I have nothing to escape from - I just want a new beginning, a new start. I want to start living my life on my own, to have new experiences but most importantly, to start living. People may think that growing up in Los Angeles instantly makes you an interesting-cool person, a person that probably has lived amazing adventures and has a lot of fun stories to tell, but maybe those adventures were not made for me. I never identified myself as a Cali girl, I don’t belong here.
So, on the journey of finding myself, I decided to leave.
Of course I had a ‘good time’ growing up here. Having the beach just a few minutes from my house was definitely one of the best things that could have ever happened to me, but it wasn’t enough. All the surfboards abandoned on the beach, the crazy parties and all-nighters, the superficial valley girls and fuckboys, the drugs and the ambition of everyone wanting to become famous, it wasn’t me and I was rounded by them. It was enough for me to realize what I wanted.
I wanted something else.
One day I woke up in Ben’s house - my now ex-boyfriend - covered in dry Jager and melted jelly shots, my hair smelled like smoke and vomit coming from the boy lying next to me, the room was a mess and it was when I noticed we weren’t alone in there. The broken mirrors and crystal tables, the half-naked girls lying on the floor, the slight smell of weed in the background, it was a the complete combo to make me realize that that was it, I needed to stop.
Long story short, I broke up with Ben a couple of days later. I wasn’t happy with him, it was a vicious relationship that continuously made me turn into someone I was not, I was constantly doing things I didn’t like just because he didn’t share my interests. I wanted him to like me, whatever it costs. It was the best decision of my life to leave him, apart from buying my ticket to London.
That week I decided I needed to leave, that’s why I bought my ticket. I’ve been saving money since I was fifteen, maybe it’s time to put that money to work.
At first, my parents were not happy with my decision. Well, they still aren’t fully convinced.
“Is this some kind of rebellious act? Is it attention that you seek?” My mother asked, her voice between an angry tone mixed with concern.
“No, mom. I just... I want to get out of here, okay? I want to find myself. To have the chance to see the world while I’m young.” I said, running my hand through my hair and curling the ends. “You, from all the people in the world, know that I don’t belong here. I need to find that place or at least, try.”
“Is it because you broke up with Ben?” My sister, who was in the chair next to me asked.
“No, he has nothing to do with this.” I said, giving everyone a smile. “I made this decision for me, not because of anyone.”
“Will you come back?” My dad asked, his brows united.
“Of course I will, dad.” I gave him a smile. With that they were more calm but still not happy.
They kept asking me questions.What will happen with college?After all I was in my second year but I got it covered, they will hold my credits for two years and if after those two years I don’t return, they will erase me from the system and I will have to start all over again. The truth is, I don’t want to come back, not until I find happiness in my life again, something or somewhere worth living for.
Where will I live?Well, I still don’t know. Here and there. I have a few friends living all around Europe, I will be couch surfing or staying in cheap motels until I settle in, I have enough money for a small apartment and sustain myself for at least six months. The money is not a problem.
Why did I choose London?It wasn’t so easy; I was in between Madrid or London. But until I properly practice my Spanish, I prefer to go to London first. My plan is to go everywhere I can inside of my budget. Germany, France, Spain, everywhere I can. I have my whole youth to find where I want to stay.
So days later after discussing what will happen to me, we are here, the four of us saying goodbye at the airport. You can see the disappointed expression in my mom’s face, I know deep down she supports me. She is the first to hug me; she was never good with farewells. She hugs me tightly, fighting back her tears.
“I love you, mom.” I say in the hug, she doesn’t respond right away. She just looks at me with kind eyes, her signature stare.
“I love you too, honey.” She says briefly, releasing me.
My sister was the second. She is sixteen, she is starting to explore what LA has for her, she is so beautiful and talented, I’m sure she is going to be fine without me. I’m going to miss her like crazy, she is the only true friend I have in here. She’s not superficial, she’s actually way smarter than me.
“Don’t drink until you’re eighteen. Got it?” I whisper to her ear not wanting my parents to hear a word, wrapping her hard in my arms. “I will call you every week and I hope to hear your crazy teenage stories.” I hold her at arm’s length. “You’re smart enough to take care of yourself while I’m gone. I’m trusting in you.”
“Don’t worry about me.” She gives me a smile, placing the few hairs that left my messy bun behind my ears. “I’m more worried about you, to be honest.”
“I’ll be okay. I promise.” I give her a reassuring smile and with that, a final tight hug. “I will miss you, Jay-Jay.” I call her by my personal nickname for her.
“And I will too, Fray-Fray.” She whispers in my ear, calling me by her personal nickname for me, her face hiding in the curve of my neck.
I release her after long seconds, I just love her so much to let go. Now its time to say goodbye to my dad, the only one that understands my way of thinking. He has traveled the whole world, that’s how he found out he wanted to be a history teacher.
“Call if you need anything, honey. Money, food, a roof, anything. Okay?” He puts one hand in my shoulder. I nod my head, giving him a smile. “I will be waiting for you.”
“I got it covered, but I will call if I need anything, don’t worry.” I hug him tightly, my cheek flat on his chest.
“And please... Keep me updated.” He hugs me, his big warm embrace making my eyes water. “I will miss you, young lady.”
“I will miss you too, daddy.” I hug him even tighter, knowing this will be the last hug in a while.
After another round of goodbyes, its time for me to check in. I grab my luggage and walk away, turning my head back to smile at them while they wave goodbye at me. My mom is fighting back tears but my dad has a proud smile on his face. This is it.
This is the first step of finding myself.
Just when I’m about to hand my passport to the airport check in, my mom shouts steps away from me.
“Frances! Have fun sweetie!” She waves at me, and with that I leave the line and go running to her, hugging her tightly one last time. I knew she was going to support me, at last at least.
“Thank you, mom. I will, I promise.” I say, letting a small tear leave my eye. “I love you, I will call you often, I promise.”
“Now go! Europe is waiting for you!” She places a kiss on my forehead, patting my shoulders. “Go!”
“Okay, okay!” I say, taking a step back cleaning the falling tear from my cheek, a smile plastered on my face. “Goodbye fam.”
They all wave goodbye at me, my father hugging them both as I hand my passport and ticket to the check in. I give them a final wave of goodbye after stepping inside of the terminal.
This is it. I’m one step closer to London.
I’m not going to lie and say that I’m not nervous, because I am. This is the first time I will be alone by myself, and even worse, in another country. I’m scared but at the same time I’m excited. There are a lot of things I could do in a new country, traveling without my parents or friends. I’m my own companion in this journey.
I have a friend that lives there though, Drake. He graduated with me in high school and he left right away, he’s a cool dude with cool blue hair. He studies at Oxford University and he wants to become a music producer one day, maybe that’s why I like him so much, he always knew what he wanted to be. I already told him I was coming; he was more than happy to know that I was going to occupy his couch for the next few days. So, once I arrive, I will get a train ticket to go see him.
My parents drove me here an hour before my flight so I have a some time to spend in the duty free. I’m thinking on getting something for Drake, maybe some chocolates, he’s a big chocolate lover. While I walk I check my mental list of the things I’m carrying with me in my carry-on.
Books, check. Purse, check. Coat, gloves and beanie, check. Toothbrush, check. Victoria Secret splash that I-find-too-girly-but-I-still-wear-it, check. Sleeping pills, check. And last but not least, notepad, check.
One thing I’m sure I will not get used to in London is the weather. I’m not well acquainted to coldness, I’m more of a loose tank-top girl. I checked and is 10ºC there, that translates to 50ºF here, that’s hella’ freezing for me. I’m wearing a comfy sweater because I know planes can be quite cold, but I hope the airplane has free blankets waiting for me.
After walking the duty free twice and getting Drake a box of chocolates, I sit in front of my gate waiting to board. I take my copy of The Great Gatsby out and start reading from the start. I have always loved the purity and complex of this book, it doesn’t matter how many times I have read it. I know Gatsby is really interesting and mysterious, but I always find myself rooting for Nick, for me he is the base of the story, the best wingman in the history of books.
I get lost easily in the read, finishing the first chapters in a matter of minutes. When I move my eyes up I see a line in front of my gate, indicating is time to board.
I stand up instantly, nervous chills consuming me while I go stand behind the last person in the line. I take my plane ticket out along with my passport, waiting person by person until is my turn. I can’t erase the excited smile on my face, even when I’m dying of nervousness inside.
“Good evening Miss, thank you for choosing American Airlines. Your passport and ticket, please.” An attendant with a black and long pony tail and neat uniform speaks to me.
“Here you go.” I hand her the two things and wait to check me in. I glance at the female security checking a woman from the legs and up.
“Um... There must to be a problem with your ticket.” She glances up at me, a polite smile in her lips. “You don’t appear in the system.”
“There has to be a problem, I just checked inside the terminal.” I say, a frown connecting my brows.
“I’m sure is just a technical problem.Karen!" She calls someone behind her, turning her head to look back. “Karen, come here for a second.”
“Yes, Sarah?” Another attendant with a perfectly made bun and neatly blue uniform appears behind the counter.
“I’m typing the number of the pass but it doesn’t show up in the system.” The girl I suppose is called Sarah says to the other woman, who purses her lips typing something into the computer.
“Oh, here she is.” She glances up at me. “Your ticket has been upgraded to first class. We had a spot left and you were selected, I hope you don’t mind the gesture.”
”What?!" My mouth agapes, the bag with the chocolates almost falling from my hands. “Really?!”
“Yes, miss. The upgrade will not have any additional cost. If you like to remain in your previous seat we can arrange the exchange for you.” She politely smiles at me.
Flying in first class to London? Forfree? Hell yeah.
“No, no. That’s... I’m cool with staying in first class.” I say letting a chuckle out, I can’t believe this journey is already going well for me.
“Great choice, miss.” She smiles again at me, typing something in the computer. “Please come with me, let me show you your seat.” She hands me my passport and ticket back and puts her arm out showing me the way.
I pass by the security walking behind the flight attendant, my purse in my hand along with my hand luggage. The best thing about being in first class is that is the first cabin of the plane, so you don’t have to walk much.
“Here is your new seat, 14-A. Please feel comfortable, if you need any pillows or blankets just ask. The seat reclines making a bed. Don’t forget to buckle up when the red light goes on.” She puts her arm out showing me my seat with her signature polite smile. “Press these buttons over here to call for an attendant and these two to regulate the lighting in your booth. Thank you again for choosing American Airlines and please, enjoy your flight.”
“Will do, thank you.” I give her a smile, my eyes still impressed of everything inside the cabin.
Comfortable leather cream seats, a booth with only two chairs, space to spread your legs front. There are only seven booths in here with two seats each. This is paradise. No disturbing babies kicking your chair, no loud passengers closing the door loudly every time they go to the bathroom, no sleeping sandwiched between two sweaty strangers. This is paradise.
“Oh, lord.” I sigh, moving to put my hand-luggage up and then sitting down. “Here I go, London.” I say out loud to myself.
I take my phone out of my pocket to let my family know that I already boarded, in first class! I know they will be happy to hear that. I’m not even there and I already have a fun story to tell.
There’s even cold beverages on the side waiting for me. I grab a water bottle and open it, taking a drink. The cabin quickly fills up, only a few seats left in here. While I wait to the place to fill, I stare out of the window, playing with the tap of the bottle between my lips.
I can’t believe I’m doing this. I’m leaving the place where I grew up in, I’m leaving my home, my family behind. I already have a nostalgic smile on my face, I did have fun here but... I know Europe holds a lot more for me, and I can’t wait to find out.
“Excuse me, I think you’re in my seat.” A snotty voice wakes me up from my trance. I don’t know how many minutes passed but it felt like a little eternity while I was staring out of the window thinking about leaving all behind.
When I turn my eyes up, the bottle slips from my hands almost damping all my jeans but I was quick to hold it. I can’t believe what my eyes are seeing.
“I... Uh...” I stand up, my hand trembling trying to close the bottle.
“Seat 14-B. My seat.” He moves his jaw to a side, pushing his long hair back with his hand.
I swallow hard, I’m petrified. My mouth is open in a big ‘O’, this... This can’t be happening, this can’t be true.
“I... My...” I stutter, not being able to pronounce a complete sentence. For Christ sake, not even a word!
“Great.” He rolls his eyes, turning to call for a flight attendant. She comes right away, her cheeks are fully flushed and I don’t blame her.
“Is there a problem, sir?” She asks politely, you can sense her nervousness in her voice.
“Yes.” He huffs, showing the attendant his pass. He has an attitude, he is well known for it. “Apparently there’s a mistake here because my seat is already taken. This is my seat, see? 14-B.” He points to the two seats in front of him.
I take a moment to look at him, to really look at him. I move my eyes to look at his fury black vest over his AC/DC grey shirt, black ripped skinny jeans and dark brown rusty boots. His hair is long, way longer since the last time I saw him on the news. His hair is greasy, but somehow it adds some coolness to his persona.
“Oh no, sir. It’s not a misunderstanding.” The attendant smiles at him, signaling the two seats. “The booth has two seats, see? Seat 14-A and 14-B, your seat.”
“I personally asked to be seated alone.” He clarifies, his features consumed by a frown. He has a thick British accent mixed with the relaxed Californian accent, it’s quite unique.
“Did you purchase the other seat, sir?” She asks politely, her arms crossed behind her.
“No.” He moves his jaw to a side, he looks so annoyed.
“Then there’s nothing I can do about it.” She snaps, in the most polite way possible. I even wanted to chuckle out loud but I managed to control it. “The whole plane is packed tonight. If you need anything please call us, it’ll be my pleasure to help.” She dismisses herself, nodding at us and walking away.
“Yeah, right.” He rolls his eyes, turning to look at me. Is now that I’m noticing he is still carrying his bag in his hand.
He moves his bag up, his shirt moving a big up while he places his bag inside. I get myself caught staring at the tiny part of skin showing, two leaves inked on each side of his pelvis. When he finally gets his bag inside he caught me staring, I blush instantly.
“I... I...” I start saying something, but he cuts me off quickly.
“Please stop stuttering.” He rolls his eyes once again, throwing his body on his seat and taking his phone out, along with a pack of Marlboro reds cigarettes.
I sit slowly, moving my eyes front to the head of the seat in front of me, my eyes widened.
He starts clicking the lighter, trying to light up his cigarette.
“Sir, sir.” A flight attendant quickly approaches to our seat, her eyes popping out of her skull. “You can’t smoke in this plane, or, in any plane really.”
“Uh.” The cigarette is still hanging on his lips. “Yeah, sorry.” He puts the lighter down, but the attendant remains on her spot.
“For the safety of the flight I will have to ask you for the lighter and the pack of cigarettes, sir.” She says, her eyes moving down to his hand where he is holding the lighter. “They will be returned to you at the end of the flight.”
”Fuck- Sorry, fine. Okay.” He hands her the pack with the lighter, she smiles at him and leaves with the two things in her hands. “What a twat.”
I sit still, my hands still holding the water. I take a deep breath, resting my back on the seat and putting the bottle aside. I need to calm down and act normal, I’m embarrassing myself. I buckle myself and take my phone out. I still can’t believe who I have next to me. I text my sister, I know she is going to hate me for this.
*JAY! You are not going to believe who is sitting next to me.*
*Jack FREAKING Stone!!!*
*Jack the freaking rock-star Stone!!! This. Is. Not. A. Drill.*
*I want to pee my pants.*
I put my phone down, letting a sigh out.
I repeat, Jack Stone is sitting next to me. For a ten hour flight.Holy sh...