I discovered something last night: the happiest place in town, the place to go if you are needing a date night or a reminder that joy still exists in this old world is the international arrivals terminal of any major airport. I happened to be in Atlanta.
I was there to pick up the working daughter and her best friend from a tour of Israel. Usually a very routine event, the airport pickup, I found that the international airport pickup is like a free movie, or even a free trip. The girls went to Israel, but I had as much to tell about my hour at the arrivals gate. All the better because it was unanticipated, a Wow! surprise.
I hadn’t reckoned on the reunions. That’s what that terminal is all about, after all. Reunions. And of course the exotic mix of people from all over God’s earth landing in Georgia, USA.
First, Air Force family. A young mother in red with a baby in a smocked American flag bubble suit waited on a plane from Paris carrying her deployed husband. He hadn’t seen the baby since the day she was born. It was a muted reunion, but I had to remember soldiers are generally muted kinds of people. And one cute detail, the baby’s pinkie toe kept coming out of her sandal. This little piggy kept going to market.
Guy in Green. This guy’s arrivals refused to arrive. He spoke with distress and broad Wisconsin vowels into a cellphone explaining that he was there but they were not. His shorts were olive green and his t-shirt was kelly green. You might think I am going to say, “But it worked.” I’m not.
Intense Turkish Woman. Straight out of a BBC period piece, she was in an apricot chiffon sari and her eyes were dark, intense, and worried. Her mother had Parkinsons and was arriving and the daughter doubted her mother could negotiate customs alone. In her song-like speech she enquired of passing porters and luggage attendants things they could not know or answer.
Girlfriend. In an eyelet halter top, Girlfriend held a homemade sign that read, “Welcome Home, Meatball!!!!” She did a skippy dance when she spotted Meatball and the two reuned happily. He was a Swedish meatball, by the way, not an Italian one.
Bossy Redhead. Handing out little French flags to the whole waiting fam, including Gram in a wheelchair, Redhead instructed everyone on what to do.
Embarrassing American. I am a proud American who does not look for reasons to disparage her country or countrymates. However. Of all the exotic people and garb ebbing and flowing around me, this guy looked like an ad for ‘Yacht Life’: Salmon colored outfitters shirt with flaps, vents, etc; aqua shorts; RL leather flip flops; not that there was one thing wrong with it all, it just looked a little silly on the world stage. Though, who knows, he might have been a philanthropist or benefactor or founder of college scholarships. (But still, the colors and all . . .)
Willowy Indian Girl. Indian women in long tunics float; they just glide.
Serbs. I have no idea if they were Serbs, but something in me just said, “Serbs!” 20 men or so all in their 20s looking fit and edgy moved together to wherever they were going – soccer practice? mercenary orientation?
Dude Ready. Unlike the Serbs who were clearly unimpressed with the watching waiters, Dude Ready was all about this moment. He had done his homework and coordinated his outfit, however he had mixed at least four metaphors. Black converse high tops, untied and artfully gaping to expose a red lining said NBA, above which were tight, rolled cuff skinny pants saying Seattle. A proud American Eagle emblazoned T brought in the teen model demographic, and last but not least, no kidding, a long lanyard hung from his pocket to his knees completing the inclusion of the Rock The South crew. I liked Dude Ready, though. He looked eager for the Great American Experiment.
The most wonderful common denominator of all these disparate groups was that, with the exception of the Serbs, when the waiters were reunited with the arrivers you could tell that the chief joy, the thing most anticipated, was to have their arms around each other. How wonderful it was to hold the person in their arms. They embraced, rocked, rubbed, patted and marveled that they were touching again.
Arms. Arms and holding are universally craved.
This pic has nothing to do with the post, but all posts needs pics and this one is a happy one. 🙂