John Marsden Writing Topic #288

‘An innocent abroad’ is the theme of many books and films–Crocodile Dundee for example. Write your own innocent abroad story**

How We Got Here

Chapter 8: Julie

Dear Mum,

I’m so happy that this day is finally here! You and Travis deserve all the happiness in the world.

I’m not only happy for you, but also happy for Elaine and I. As you know it’s not only the first time all twelve of us will be together again in years, it will be the first time that Elaine and I have been home since we left for our gap year five years ago.

I never forgot when we told you at the start of our final year of school that we wanted your traditional graduation gift that you gave everyone, for us, to be funding for an overseas trip. I remember that you hesitated and that I knew it was because we hadn’t been overseas before and that we would be on our own. It’s not that we weren’t scared, but we knew it was something that we would have to experience and I know you knew that too. Elaine originally wasn’t so keen, but as always, I managed to convince her into it.

We learnt so much about Asian and European cultures on our trip and I felt that our travel made us better people and we learnt so much about life, however the thing we didn’t expect was that we would find the jobs of our dreams.

We already knew that we wanted to live and work in London like some of our friends and luckily with our savings and Visas we managed to do so. Cathay Pacific were recruiting for cabin crew from London and they were offering three year contracts, we thought it was the perfect opportunity to be able to travel and work.

The three years flew by as we travelled domestically and internationally, however Elaine and I didn’t always fly together. For the first time in our lives, we were separated from each other and it really changed us. As I thrived at Cathay Pacific and climbed my way up the flight attendant career ladder, Elaine worked hard and enjoyed herself, however she felt that she didn’t fit in at Cathay Pacific. She loved flight attending as much as I did, but not with Cathay Pacific. On the rare occasions that we got to catch up, we would usually end up fighting.

I never forgot the moment she told me when our contracts were up that she had resigned and got a job with British Airways. I was devastated and angry, I mean I was happy for her that she got a new job that she would hopefully be happy in, but I was devastated and angry because I was scared about being separated from her permanently. We weren’t exactly joined at the hip at Cathay Pacific, but we did see each other and work a rare flight together, it would be the first time in our lives that any separation we experienced would feel permanent. Even though over those three years we grew and started to become different people, actually become known as individuals rather than identical twins, I wasn’t sure how to cope without her. I know everyone thinks I’m the Alpha twin…mostly because I’m always the one declaring myself as the Alpha, I do have feelings and I felt scared, more often than everyone gives me credit for.

I know it was selfish of me, but I just couldn’t bear to talk to her. Even though I never forgot the moment she told me about her new job, I never forgot the conference call I had with you, Travis and Elaine. I’d seen you angry at everyone else before for various reasons, but I thought I’d be lucky and be spared my turn….boy was I wrong. You and Travis were right about everything—I was being selfish and that we needed each other and that we can’t ignore each other forever, especially with the size of our family. I finally admitted how I felt and I was pissed off that Elaine was surprised by it considering how close we were, but at least we managed to clear the air. Elaine is where she belongs at British Airways and I can’t see myself anywhere other than Cathay Pacific, you and Travis really should check out Hong Kong some time.

Elaine and I see each other whenever we can, usually one of us will fly over during our breaks, I always love it when Carrie can come over too, which reminds me, don’t worry, all of our flights are booked. I have to work our flight to Melbourne, but it was the only way my boss would give me the extra time off. I’ll change before I come home, it’s always hilarious when women hear us talking away in the airport bathrooms and they comment on how nice it is to see sisters getting along and then inevitably ask if it’s just the three of us. You should see the  looks on their faces when we tell them that we have seven other siblings and we point at each other and give them our serial numbers, “number 6”, “number 8” and “number 9”. I remember you telling me that you were always on the receiving end of judgement when you were younger about having all of us, but hopefully you find this funny, we can see the funny side now that we’re older.

When Bethie, Lucas, Kane and Blake are in Blackpool, I’ll make more of an effort to take time off and catch up with Elaine. We might get kicked out for cheering too loudly when they’re on the floor.

I can’t wait to come home, it will be weird being in the house after all this time, let alone with everyone else around. I love Hong Kong and working at Cathay Pacific, but I have been wondering whether my future holds me coming home at some point. I’m not sure how Elaine feels on the subject, but out of the two of us, the one to come home first would be her.

I can’t wait for the wedding, the last one I believe was Michael’s, I would count Christi’s if she had invited us. I liked Peter straight away when I met him on a layover in New York last month, and while I sympathise with her reasons for choosing to elope after what she went through with Damien, I still don’t understand why she wouldn’t let us experience her first shot at happiness in over a decade, with her. I think you and Travis will like him. I’m digressing, I can’t wait for the wedding, are you both looking forward to the next stage of your life? Marriage and grandchildren—I bet you would never put those two together with the phrase “next stage of my life.”

I like Gwen’s idea with these letters, but I’m not sure why you would need our approval, you know we all love Travis. Maybe I misinterpreted Gwen’s intentions, but we all know he’s been an awesome stepfather and will make an incredible step-grandfather.


See you soon.

Love Julie xxoo




**Reference: Marsden J 1998, Everything I Know About Writing, Pan Macmillan, Australia.

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