On the other side of that door they’ll be hundreds of expectant faces. They won’t have much longer to wait. Any minute now, that door will open and someone they love will arrive home.
Families will be huddled together, jostling to get the first glimpse of a relative. Kids will be holding up ‘Welcome Home Daddy!’ banners with tired little arms as women discreetly check their make-up for the hundredth time. Lovesick, freshly-showered boyfriends will be waiting nervously with flowers, while excitable family pets will be straining at the leash. Old friends will look forward to catching up. Tired taxi drivers will wait for their fare and think of dinner. Mums, radiant with relief, will be anxious to hug their children as dads will secretly hope that they come through soon to save on parking. They’ll all be reunited soon.
As the door slides open, they’ll glance at your face frantically for a millisecond before moving on to scan others. You’re not the one. Not today. You and your battered bags are invisible to them. As you walk past, frantic shouts erupt around you – ‘Mira, es ella!’, ‘Mi amor!’ ‘Papi!’ – as everyone rushes forward, their arms stretched out wide. The sound of wet kisses and muffled embraces drown out the airport security announcements. The limbs of hugging families and dropped luggage block your path.
A testimony to the beauty of love, friendship and family, these are moments of pure joy. But when you’re not home, walking out of that door into arrivals can be the loneliest walk of your life.