I called Anastasia (who had been watching the event unfold on television with her fingers crossed) and then Tom- he was tuned in and didn't know I was on the plane! He informed me of the news crews filming passengers exiting the plane, and when I told him I was almost ready to do so myself, he told me to wave. Once out, I did. I waved at a helicopter and smiled widely, laughing drunkenly in disbelief.
We boarded a bus, the sun setting on the tarmac and the firemen walking about, illuminated by sirens. The terminal was swarming with media, and we were told we didn't need to answer any questions if we didn't want to, but I didn't care. As I went to retrieve my baggage, I was approached by a sea of lights, lenses, microphones and dictaphones, and I was asked a string of the same questions over and over again; I somehow never tired of answering. I stood next to a pretty girl with whom I had exchanged smiles on the plane. Someone inquired if we knew each other and we answered no, but I smiled, saying I had noticed her and thought she was cute. Oh, to be drunk with a beautiful girl in front of news crews.
I was soon requested to do the early show on CBS, and thought, "What the hell? Sure, I'll do it." Good Morning America asked me as well and I had to turn them down. How bizarre is that? CBS put me up in a three hundred dollar suite complete with a flat-screen television at the Beverly Hilton, and Alan (the show's producer) accompanied me to my room to relax and handle logistics. He flipped through the channels and caught news coverage of the flight. I watched myself responding to reporters on four different stations, and it already seemed distant- even more surreal. After a sushi dinner on Wilshire and La Cienega, I showered and half-listened to the news about the incident on a small monitor in my bathroom (yes- there was a second TV in my bathroom!). I went to bed after midnight and nestled in the soft, fluffy, strange comfort of a hotel bed, and thanked God that everything was OK. I scheduled a wake-up call, and finally let my tired eyes close for two hours...
As the outside world was dark and fast asleep, I washed up and put on the same clothes- they were the only clothes that weren't packed and protecting all of the promo albums I received from Mush. My hotel phone rang, and with groggy and burning eyes, I entered the bright, spacious lobby where Alan was waiting for me. "Hey rock star," he said, handing me the morning paper, "you made the cover of the Los Angeles Times!" And there I was, descending the steps from the airplane, holding my cell phone in the air and smiling triumphantly. I was on the cover of the fucking newspaper!
Alan picked up two iced coffees for me at Starbucks, and I started sipping one of them once in the limo on the way to the studio. The girl I had seen at the terminal (Christiana) was coincidentally also asked to be on the early show, and she arrived soon after with her father and her kitty, Margot, who also traveled with her on the flight. We were given light make-up and basked in the lights in front of the camera. Our interview was brief, and then we were whisked off in an even nicer limo to KCBS for a second round of interviews, and then did two radio interviews by phone on the way back to my hotel! I had an hour to kill, and I spent it talking to friends who were just hearing about the whole thing, seeing me on the news and in the papers.
Once at the airport, I did yet another interview with someone from AP, then met CBS at my terminal- they were waiting with a camera to film me checking in! I had lunch from a cafe upstairs and spoke with Stuart, finally heading to the gate and receiving star treatment from the airline. Surprisingly, I wasn't scared getting on the plane, and ate almonds watching "Mr. & Mrs. Smith" as if absolutely nothing had happened. I had a gin & tonic coming in to JFK and laughed at old Monty Python routines on TV. I made it off the plane feeling very lucky and happy, albeit exhausted.
I was given a gift basket containing fruits and cheeses and driven home in a limo after a final interview with CBS. I was so excited to be home in Brooklyn! I joined Swati and her friends Shalani and Yemi as they had a picnic in the living room, showing them the newspapers and images in my camera. Swigging some whisky Christy-Claire had gotten for me and smoking some weed of theirs, I opened my inbox to 72 messages... I wrote the whole adventure down in my Myspace blog and went to sleep after three; I had been awake for 24 hours.
The next week that passed was eventful and lovely. I did an interview the next morning, modeled for Forrest, and ate delicious sushi at Geido on Flatbush. Stuart's surprise 30th birthday party was that Sunday and was very emotional. We cried together, and it was just so heartwarming to be among close friends on that occasion after such an incredible ordeal. I was a paid member of the Maury Povich show audience the following day, and it was even trashier than I imagined it being- especially the audience! They should've been on stage themselves! I tried going to a second job on the west side where I would've been an extra in a Bollywood movie, but apparently they had enough people.
Christy-Claire and I met at Rai Rai Ken for delicious ramen, sitting near the window at the bar. She wore a nice dress and had done her hair up a bit, and looked beautiful. We bought Sweet Tarts and brown-bagged Sparks, drinking on the streets as we made our way to the Lower East Side. I really just remarked how nice it was being with her, looking pretty dodgy as we laughed and drank together on busy side streets. I finished mine by the time we got to Ludlow and Stanton, but we sat on a stoop so she could catch up. Unfortunately, she didn't finish in time: a police car pulled up and she was issued a ticket! I felt kind of bad for her, but thought it was pretty funny- so did she.