Departing is Sweet Sorrow, Delight on Safe Return

Posted on February 19, 2013


What direction are you travelling?

Ignoring the aggravation of cancelled or late flights and the long lineups that ensue from unplanned airline changes, how do you feel about airports? Over the decades, I have had countless trips to airport Departure and Arrivals gates. (It’s seems that it was part of the fine print along with the marriage vows.) Honestly, I don’t like spending time at the Departure areas very much. Good-byes suck, and even after you’ve waved your farewells there’s a sadness that lingers for a while.  It doesn’t matter how busy my plate is for the duration of one of Hubby’s trips, as soon as I leave the parking lot heading back home, the count-down begins until my return trip to Arrivals. With all the parking fees I’ve paid, I figure I should have my own parking stall by now.

Still, despite my lack of enthusiasm about the numerous trips in and out of airports, in my capacity as Airport Gopher, I find the area just before the departure gates to be an interesting study in relationships. There is young love, demonstrated by the “octopus embrace”, arms and hands groping in lust, oblivious to passers-by. Then there is the tamer, but focused, kiss from a young mother to her partner, the “I’d-give-anything-to-escape-my-life-with-this-teething-toddler” kiss. (This kiss is sometimes accompanied by “the evil eye”, but not always.) I often get teary watching as wee ones wave good-bye to their daddies or mommies – I am such a softee.

Airports offer interesting places to watch people.

My favourite departure scenario actually has to do with elderly couples not actually parting ways at the gates, but proceeding to them. In that brief walk towards Security, I have overheard everything from loving reminders (to not forget to take your prescriptions) to needling comments regarding the packing of extra gauze for a way-too-graphicly-explained affliction – eeeew. It is their own peculiar way of supporting the other, caring. I could be spared the details of their health history, but they probably don’t realize the volume of their conversations, or they have hearing issues, or more likely, they don’t care.  And that’s the attitude that a lot of older seniors adopt with their years – they don’t sweat it – and it makes my experience at the airport that little bit more memorable.

The other half of that glass is my time waiting at the Arrivals area of the airport.  I love it when there’s a group waiting with balloons or “welcome back” signs; After a long flight, especially one of those “red-eye specials”, what could be better? Waiting at the Arrivals is almost always about joyful reunions of loved ones, and I’m all for that.

Baring the occasional time when Hubby’s return flight has been cancelled due to dismal weather conditions in the Okanagan Valley, I unabashedly admit I get a bit gleeful in anticipation of seeing him walk down the entry ramp. It’s the same feeling I had nearly 36 years ago when I waited for (not yet) Hubby to return from a long flight from Toronto. The weather in Vancouver had been unseasonably harsh, yet he was determined to catch a quick turn-around flight in order that we wouldn’t miss a special music concert we both hoped to see. (He had purchased the tickets before getting on the plane – what a romantic guy.) I hope I never lose that tinkly sensation.

I’m fortunate that more and more of my trips to and from the airport these days are spent with me beside Hubby, not trips when we’re parted. That has been a conscious plan of ours. Give us another decade, and perhaps you’ll overhear us on the way to Departures conversing about the latest medical obstacle – or maybe it’ll be just a little kiss to get the trip started.

Posted in: Mid-Life Quirks