Almost completely unfurled, I took myself back to the Airport yesterday to pick up beloved Big Irish Man and tiny child.
I like airports. I like them even more since the Bim and I met. They featured heavily in our courtship, given we lived in separate countries then. I still get that little fast-heartbeat frisson as I stand with other fast-beating hearts at the Arrivals barrier, waiting for my loved one to arrive. Only these days of course I wait for TWO loved ones, which is at least four times as exciting.
So I got there a bit early, deliberately early, in order to savour those strange moments-in-waiting unlike any other moments in life. The board informed me that they were in that limbo state of 'Baggage in hall'. Isn't it always, I pondered. Don't we all have baggage in the hall, just waiting to be put out with the rubbish? Don't we all wish, sometime or other, that that ol' baggage would just up and out the front door of its own accord... So my thoughts ran as I ate my cheese and tomato Tostato, which tastatoed of precisely nothing. Even this cotton wool eating experience, however, could not dull the fascination with which I watched the other wait-ers as one by one the folk they had come to meet appeared through the double doors.
Next to me there was a mother and her three-year-old son, waiting for his grandparents. For every single person who came through he informed us: 'That's not Nanny! That's not Grandad!' When his dear Nanny and Grandad did, finally, appear he ducked under the barrier before his mother could stop him, dodging trolleys as he ran - straight into the arms of his grandfather, and shouted 'At last!'
It was, I suspect, how most of us would like to behave on first sighting our loved ones after they've fought the battle of the skies and won. No matter how much they tell us we're more likely to meet our death driving to the corner shop for a bottle of milk, air travel still makes the best of us quiver and grown men drunk. It's just not natural, for goodness sake. But I'm not suprised Anna-mouse has fallen in love with it either, for even when your flight's cost you less than a good meal out there's still something inherently glamorous about it.
So what I observed about my fellow grown-ups-in-waiting was this: very few of us know how to do a proper 'hello', in spite of our palpable relief that our awaited travellers have actually turned up alive. Men were the funniest and most touching. Watching them greet other men was quite extraordinary - their pleasure expressed in a series of really-quite-hard slaps, pats and punches. Women were a little more obviously aware that they were being watched (or maybe, theatrical that I am, I was simply more aware of the effect of the double-doors entrance), and were either studiedly vague or deliberately flamboyant.
For the record, the minute I spotted my two I found myself, like the three-year-old, shinning the barrier and hare-ing up behind them making funny faces. The Bim hadn't seen me but Anna-mouse, hanging over her father's shoulder, thought this hilarious and suddenly we were one untidy hugging bundle shrieking and laughing in the middle of everyone. But hey, d'you think I cared?