December 24th, 1989
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
The first thing I saw when I strained to open my eyes this morning, was tinsel. And the first words I heard were Frankie’s.
“Morning darling! We need to get into the Christmas spirit!”
“Didn’t we have enough of that last night?”
“Never,” she squealed, with the widest grin, that I have to admit would make even the grumpiest person smile.
“Let’s go down to the pool,” she said, jumping on my bed.
I yawned and stretched. “I need to wake up first.”
“You can do that on a sun lounger. I’ll pop my headphones on and promise not to bother you.”
It was like crew central by the pool and I felt utterly out of place among the bikini clad girls with their perfect figures. We got chatting to some girls from KLM, none of whom were less than five ten, all statuesque and stunning. And so friendly that we arranged to meet up with them tonight.
By lunchtime it was far too hot for me so I came back to the room. Wrote a long letter to Ben that I scrunched up and tossed in the bin and started feeling sorry for myself. I was thinking about Nana and how much I miss her, then I thought more about Ben and tortured myself by wondering if he’s spending Christmas with Mandy.
That thought sent me into a downward spiral so I lay on the floor, in front of the huge window, in the beginning stages of what I commonly refer to as my “Christmas Cry.” I was well into it when the phone rang. My first reaction was to ignore it, then I thought it might be Frankie ringing to say she was either staying at the pool or on her way upstairs.
When I picked up the phone, I caught sight of myself in the mirror and shook my head when I noticed how red my eyes looked.
“Yaaassss?” I said, expecting to hear Frankie respond with her signature chuckle.
“Oh, ehm, hi.” I quickly cleared my throat. “David, hi, wow, how are you?”
“Awesome. Are you ok? You sound like you have a cold.”
“No, I’m eh, I’m fine, yeah, I’m fine,” I stuttered.
“You sound surprised.”
“You can say that again,” I laughed. “How on earth did you find me? I mean the hotel and everything?”
He laughed. “I have my ways.”
“I like your ways,” I said in a cocky tone that made him laugh more.
“I wanted to say hi and happy holidays.”
“Well, hello to you and Merry Christmas.”
“Merry Christmas from LA.”
“What time is it there?” I asked.
“Twenty after nine.”
“Yeah, twenty-one twenty on the twenty-third.”
“Stop trying to confuse me,” I laughed.
We had a lovely chat and when I hung up, I turned on the radio and blasted Christmas music. Then I ordered champagne flutes from room service, as well as an ice bucket, into which I popped the bottle of Dom Perignon I’ve been lugging around in my suitcase. I yanked a string of tinsel off the wall, tossed it around my neck and suddenly, even though we’re six and a half thousand miles from home, it started to feel like Christmas.
Tonight, our entire crew met in Captain Alan’s room and exchanged gifts. Whoever picked my name hit the nail on the head with the gift of an intricately carved jewellery box that I love.
Went for dinner, which was really fun, albeit much tamer than usual, due to the early start tomorrow. A few of us carried on and went to The Ship, where we met up with the KLM girls. We swapped some amusing stories about life in the tin can and came to the conclusion that regardless of nationality, human nature is all much the same.
Famke, one of the Dutch girls, suggested going to midnight mass, which I have to say was quite spectacular and an experience I’ll never forget. The service was very moving and either because of that or the fact we’re far from home, I noticed a few tears being wiped away.
From the pub to the church, it’s just like being at home!