Tag Archives: Mojave

Kindness of strangers

31 Oct

Game 6 is making me beyond nervous so I’m using this to try to keep from pacing the floor here in my apartment and possibly wearing a hole in the cowhide rug in the front room.

Three years ago I woke up in my little rented apartment near Piccadilly on what was looking to be an absolutely beautiful Halloween day. I had spent most of 2014 covering for an assistant that was out on maternity leave and it had been an exceptionally busy year. I had only been working at the company about six months and hadn’t spent much time with our CEO before taking the position. Needless to say after eight months of running at top speed I was ready for a break. As luck would have it there was a charity event announced a few weeks before ‘An Evening with Noel Gallagher’ in London where he would take the stage for a couple of hours and tell stories from his career. This was taking place just two days after the Manchester Derby (City vs. United!) and after staying up late one night to secure a ticket to the event I was on my way.

I had been in Manchester for a few days already and I booked myself on to a tour of the stadium. I had gone on the tour before but wanted to see the updated 2012 room and see if I could scope out my seat for the next day. The tour group was small and our guide quickly spotted that I wasn’t local and I was on my own. We chatted while we made our way through the stadium and I told him I worked for Virgin Galactic and had come to Manchester to take a much needed break. When I left he asked what I was doing for the rest of my day and I said I had to get back to my apartment to watch a very special live stream of an event from Mojave. I hopped on the tram, grabbed some Greggs and was back in my place ready to watch the stream of a test flight that was scheduled for the morning.

As we all know things did not go as planned that morning in Mojave. I watched the screen go black, saw an e-mail asking everyone to go back to the office and immediately burst in to tears. I was 5200 miles away feeling scared and worrying about my work family back home and if I’d have a job to come back to. I started packing while looking at flights to get back to Los Angeles. After a chat with one of my colleagues in Mojave they told me they would make sure things were taken care of and that me spending a few thousand to rush home and miss these events I had been looking forward to was just an idea I would regret later. With that I hung my clothes back up in the wardrobe and sat on the edge of the bed a little numb before finally settling in for a nap.

I woke up an hour later to a dark sky and rain gently falling. I wasn’t sure if England even celebrated Halloween – I did know that they took full advantage of Friday nights though so I went for a wander through the Northern Quarter. My first stop was the adidas spezial exhibit. This was only on for Manchester Fashion Week (it’s a real thing I swear! It’s not just tracky suits.) and I had completely forgotten that it was on. Just came upon it a few minutes away from my front door and stepped in to the gallery surrounded by hundreds of pairs of adidas. A mixture of a few collections it was beautiful, vintage, limited edition, custom and so many more all on display. On the wall were pictures from the new spezial collection and quotes from some of my favorite musicians talking about why they love the brand.


I spent about an hour at the exhibit and went wandering over to Market St feeling inspired to pick up a new pair. Walking away from the shop with a blue suede pair of Handball Spezial I stopped at Nando’s for dinner and checked out Instagram. New posts had just been put up by Gary Aspden (curator of the exhibit) with Noel Gallagher and Mani from the Stone Roses at the exhibit just a few minutes after I left!! I left some comment on the picture asking if they had watched and waited for me to leave before visiting that night. After I finished my tasty chicken I wandered back up to the gallery knowing they were long gone but just wanting to see the shoes one more time before they closed. On my way out I stopped to buy some stickers and in walked Gary, thought my luck had changed and I was about to run in to some musical heroes. No manc legends in tow this time but I still introduced myself and thanked him for putting such a lovely collection on display. He asked if I was the woman from LA that had just missed him earlier and I said I was! We chatted for a few minutes before he asked what I was doing in Manchester and I told him about the match I was heading to and the event in London. I told him about the accident earlier that day, he had seen it on the news and asked if I was ok and if I had any news from the company directly. Standing in a room of his fanboys having him take a few minutes to speak to this woman that was still clearly in a bit of a daze and letting me ramble on was so kind. He even let me show him the shoes I had just bought, got the big thumbs up on my purchase as well.

I went back to my apartment to put my shoes away and watch a bit of news. I couldn’t watch BBC because I had a connection with the reporter sent out to cover the story and it was just too weird to watch him there in my bit of the desert. Switched off the TV and put on some dancing shoes and went back to the Northern Quarter to see if the city had the Halloween spirit. I walked in to Dry Bar and settled in on one of the couches, gin and tonic in hand to watch the dancefloor. I must have looked slightly down still as I soon had company. After chatting to a few people I wandered over to a booth with a small group and they took me in to their night out to help cheer me up and make sure I had as good a time as was possible that night. I didn’t have to pay for a drink, they let me go outside and just have a tiny cry when I needed it then pulled me back out to the dance floor.

On my way home late that night – chips in hand walking past people not ready to let the party end just yet I knew that nights like this wouldn’t happen in LA. It took a crisis back home in a town of strangers to make me realize that everything would be alright. I had always enjoyed my visits to Manchester but that night with the kindness everyone showed to me I truly fell in love with the place.

57,863 Miles

28 Feb

Last week I climbed in to my Mini and started it up to have the cold weather warning alert pop on to the controls along with the mileage 57,863. I sat there staring at the numbers for a minute thinking of everything that’s happened during those miles. I bought the Mini while working at a company that was based in Encino and had me making my longest commute of my working life. Within a few months that company would start to implode upon itself with the owners relapsing in to their addictions and I made the decision to walk away grabbing my last paycheck not knowing what would happen to me next.  I came home that day and took a look around at my apartment and wondered how long I would be able to stay there as I wouldn’t be entitled to unemployment.  I had a vague promise of a temporary job with Virgin Galactic on a data entry project that would help keep me going until I found permanent work. It was a chance to work with some old colleagues and my way in to a company I had wanted to be a part of for nearly a decade. Having spent the bulk of my working life with another Virgin company, oddly enough starting off as a data entry clerk I was familiar with the brand and always regretted walking away before. On my way to Mojave for my first day orientation I was hoping with each passing mile that it wouldn’t be my only trip. I must have done an amazing job on that data entry because I’m still with them now and I can’t imagine being anywhere else.

Those miles include so many trips to Mojave but they also have a lot of adventures packed in there. Trips to Indio for Coachella, Las Vegas with friends, that one weekend we drove to San Francisco then down to San Diego in the span of three days chasing great music. Early morning drives over the canyon to the Kings Head to watch City play and now to the Rec Room from Long Beach where I now live.  The supporters club that was started by a few stray fans has now grown to this giant loud group and I couldn’t be prouder of it.

Sitting outside that gas station in Mojave with the winds whipping around me as I was tucked safely inside the car staring at that number I felt content. The next morning I would stand out on the edge of a runway and watch a beautiful spaceship take another test flight. My life isn’t perfect by any means but it’s pretty good at the moment and I’m looking forward to the next 60,000 miles.