My blog has been dark these last few days as I’ve taken time to ready my home and my head for holiday celebrations. With school in session through the 20th and home renovations that same week, little things like cleaning and decorating…and bigger things like Christmas shopping got pushed off to after the break began.
As I headed off to the airport yesterday (the day after Christmas) to pick up my oldest son, I found myself thinking about the ups and down of the airport. Anticipation, dread, excitement, drudgery…they are all part of the airport experience, depending on the reason for being there.
Traffic was light and parking was easy as I arrived at the airport. I parked in my favorite 60 minute parking zone and knew I had a bit of time for some photographs before Andy’s plane landed. I thought I might see crowds of people ascending and descending the escalator either arriving in our sunny city or departing for parts unknown.
But instead, as you can see, it was pretty empty. As I got to the top of the escalator, I realized I could see the cityscape in the distance…as well as the sea of cars parked in the parking lot. (The illusion of emptiness was just that, an illusion!)
Crossing the bridge from the parking lot to the terminal I noticed the line of shuttles below. Who will get into these cars? Are they visiting family? Vacationing? Working? Were they for visitors to the Poinsettia Bowl?
When I arrived in the terminal, I immediately went back outside (into the 75+ degree weather) to take photos of the people. You can see that there were lines of people checking their bags…and there were also lines inside of people checking in for their flights.
And then I noticed this big crowd of people dressed in red. I first saw them near the baggage claim…and then they headed outside together. There were lots of them and they all wore red t-shirts that said something like, “Brown Family Christmas 2013.” There were little children in red shirts, teenagers, adults, and some grandparent looking folks too. Once outside a big fancy tour bus pulled up and they all began to load their bags and themselves onto it. And I wondered…did they all come from the same place to spend Christmas in San Diego? Did they come on different planes from different places? Do they do this every year? Who makes the arrangements and the t-shirts? I was reminded of a colleague I met this summer whose family collects dues to put on a family reunion each year…something that has never occurred to me!
And then I got my gift…my son arrived! Now that my children are grown I don’t get to spend every special occasion with them. I share them with their wives and in laws and jobs and friends. And instead of feeling like I am missing out, I feel grateful for the time I get to spend with them. And in that moment yesterday, the airport was one of my favorite places!
And even though Andy is here, the airport will continue to be present over this next week as my daughter-in-law arrives tomorrow and my other son and his wife board a plane to fly back this direction the following day. And then, all too soon, they will go back to their homes and their lives and their work.
I’ll be boarding a plane in not too many days too as I head off to meet with colleagues about some interesting ideas for our work. Many people focus on either the excitement of the airport as they travel off on exotic vacations…or the hassle as they get stranded, stand in long lines, or searched in the security process.
But the reality is, in so many ways the airport connects us. It shrinks the miles between us and brings us together…as families, as colleagues, as friends.
Airplanes bring my kids home to me…and who can complain about that?