Working as a flight attendant on a trip assignment to New York, I can still remember my excitement as our plane started its descent. Looking down from the plane’s galley window, I saw magnificent views of undulating Manhattan skyscrapers. I felt butterflies in my stomach, that same feeling you get when you’re on a first date with the boy (or girl) of your dreams. I was eager to get off the plane, and as I strapped my seatbelt before landing, my anticipation tremendous. I could already feel the energy in Manhattan that night, waiting for me to uncover. It was my first time to set foot in the city and I was young, curious, and restless.

It was also on that same flight when I met a Frenchman named Michel, who I’m still in touch with up to this day. On my first trip to France, he invited me to visit him in Avignon, a city in southeastern France’s Provence region. En route, my cousin and I had quite the adventure via the three-hour TGV ride from Paris, filled with a lot of laughter and memories we will forever treasure together. When Michel picked us up at the station, he told me he lived with his partner, Louie. “I’m a om-seshual,” he told me. Unable to fathom the words he just uttered, I curled my nose, the thing I do when I have no idea what people are saying, and asked,”what do you mean?” He asked me if it was a problem, if it bothered me that he’s homosexual, it was only when I understood what he said. I laughed and told him it did not bother me one bit. It is, however, strange to me that homosexuals have to “confess” about their sexual orientation when heterosexuals are not subjected to the same expectations, so why should they be? It would be like me saying to someone I first meet, “hi, I’m Boots, I’m heterosexual!” Honestly, it’s no one else’s business who people choose to love. (Last I heard Michel and his new partner were trekking the Himalayas).
Since then, I’ve fallen madly in love with New York and have made lasting memories each time I visited. I’ve also lived there for a year, flying back and forth from JFK and La Guardia airports in 1995, before I moved to Tokyo with my husband shortly after our honeymoon in Italy. The time I was based in New York was probably the highlight of my airline career. The most memorable was a trip to Athens, Greece, where I was asked by the scheduling department, as a favor, to cover the assignment due to shortage of staff. Glad I did because on our way back to the States, the second officer accidentally opened an armed door and blew a slide. As a result, we stayed another night in Athens and had to share a hotel room with two other flight attendants, something out of the ordinary. But that’s not what made that trip extra-ordinary. Once we found out we were there for another night and none of the first class meals were consumed, our crew bagged everything up, from the caviar to the champagne. We brought all the goodies with us to the hotel and had a feast by poolside. If cellphones were already available then, we probably would’ve all been in trouble.

More recently, in the years 2012, 2013, and 2014, I went back each summer— for three years in a row—yet still couldn’t get enough of it. I have an inexplicable love affair with New York and if you ask me about a soul mate or a true love, I will tell you it’s not “who” but rather “where”.

This year, after exactly three years of being apart, I’m back to celebrate a milestone birthday. I normally don’t like celebrating my birthdays, and I never spend it away from my husband and two sons, but this year I felt I needed to be in New York , the city where I feel most alive.

It is after all the day of my birth, when I should feel most alive! So on that day, I crossed the Brooklyn Bridge! Because the next chapters of my life is unknown as life is always unpredictable. So I ask myself what happens next? Well, I’ll just cross the bridge when I get there. 😜