like a lot of things in my life these days, i approach them with a sense of urgency and with a clock acutely flashing in my brain. my niece was flying up to visit from florida and i had my arrival to the airport down to the minute. mainly, i didn't want her to walk out to a welcoming crowd of zero and secondly, i had an appointment following her retrieval and everything was timed just right.
as i briskly walked to the arrivals monitor to verify that her flight was right on schedule, maybe early even, i was shocked for some reason to see that it would be an hour late. an hour! not only would i miss my appointment, but i hadn't even brought a book with me. playing words with friends on my phone would take up about five minutes and then my time would be spent without accomplishment.
so, i got an iced green tea and found a corner to camp out in. you would have thought i'd just been told i'd be sitting there all day. it was only a little ol' hour, but at the time, i felt lost. once i settled in, sipping my tea, i started looking around me and reminiscing.
when i was a teenager, my friend and i would sometimes drive to the airport for something to do. at that time, 2001 was a year in the future and we were still able to walk aimlessly around any part of the airport. i suppose it fascinated us to people-watch beyond our local mall with so many different types of people with destinations and homecomings like we hadn't experienced in our lives.
my favorite part of the airport on those evenings and even as a passenger myself was that moment of embrace when a loved one was waiting to greet at the airline gate. through my late teenage years, i did a fair amount of traveling and i can distinctly still feel the warmth even today. i'd stand in the crowded aisle of the airplane with anticipation pulsing through me, knowing someone was waiting for me just outside the door that separates air with land. walking briskly down the corridor adjoining the plane with the airport would seemingly take forever. then, i'd spot the person there just for me and we'd lock eyes in a widest of grins.
most often, i remember my aunt in seattle waiting happily for me and we'd hug long enough to make up for the time since we'd last seen each other. all around us, similar mini-reunions were taking place and so much warmth would be in that gate's lobby that you could feel it on your skin. now, airports are a little more functional and a lot less affectionate. i miss those days.
as i waited for my own niece to arrive in baggage claim, hugs were hollow and most people seemed rushed, much like myself. then, i witnessed one of those embraces that whispered tales of either love or heartache and either way, it was beautiful. without warning, my eyes swelled with emotion. i really miss when arrivals were something more to be celebrated. maybe i need to make a better effort myself to bring back that warm fuzzy feeling for my own friends' and family's arrivals.