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Watching love at the airport

November 17, 2010

By Erika Weisensee

Airline travel these days can certainly offer up its share of headaches. Two years ago, as my son and I waited for my husband to get home from a business trip, I was people watching and witnessed the love that often  transpires at the airport. I wrote about what I saw:

On a cold November night, I headed out with my two-year-old son, Owen, for a little outing to the Portland Airport. It was a Friday evening and we were both ready for my husband to return home from a weeklong business trip.

When family and friends ask me to do an airport pick-up, I always park and go in to greet my loved ones, rather than just driving up to the front, taxi style. I think it’s more courteous, but I also have to admit something: I love people watching at the airport, where the careful observer can notice just about every human emotion. You can feel the anticipation of farewells and homecomings, of happy hellos and tearful goodbyes. There is stress at the airport, but there is also plenty of love.

As Owen and I sat waiting for our guy, he munched on gold fish crackers in his stroller while I watched love unfold before me.

First, I saw a family of women (a mother and her daughters) with a hand-painted sign that read “Welcome Home Hero.” Next, I noticed a dad carrying a dozen roses while trying to contain his three children walking beside him. Then, right in front of me, a tall man approached the waiting area, taking position a few feet back from where arriving travelers would emerge from the security gates. He looked normal enough except that he was holding a little wooden step stool. He put it down on the ground directly in front of him.

Within a few minutes, travelers began to arrive, walking down the rope-lined aisle one after another. All eyes in the waiting area turned toward the soldier dressed in fatigues. His family engulfed him in hugs and tears. A few moments later, the three children stormed their mother. Then, it became very obvious what the step stool was for when a petite woman stepped right up on it and kissed her tall man.

Finally, it was our turn. I saw my husband and waved. I bent down next to Owen, got his attention and pointed. He looked, his big eyes searching. Suddenly, his face flashed with recognition and a wide smile. Daddy was home.

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Erika Weisensee is a writing mom. She lives in Milwaukie and teaches journalism and communication courses at the University of Portland.

  
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Discuss this article

SloTwitch November 17, 2010

Enjoyed your love at the airport moments. Perhaps there will be an increase of love with the new rules for screening. LOL

Bubbles November 17, 2010

Seeing these veterans return home and hug their families always makes me weepy.

Second thought November 17, 2010

I miss the old days where you actually see the plane come in and greet your family right as they came out of the gate. This made the reunion more drama filled and more exciting and rewarding. The kids loved it as well. Now we have to watch as a hundred people pass out of the central exit gate and you hope you do nto miss them in the crowd which I am sure has happened.

Olivia November 17, 2010

Erika, thank you for the memories, happy and sad. I’ve shared many of them from saying good-bye to our son on his way to college years ago to aniticipating his visit next week for Thanksgiving. Airports are emotional places, a cross-section of life. You captured those feelings beautifully.

Naomi Ruth November 18, 2010

Your article made me stop and take part in that moment. I too, love to greet visitors, in person, at the airport. Thanks for sharing your gift of observation and communication with us!

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