Effervescent storyteller.

Welcome to My Modern Diary, an electronic journal filled with tales of nostalgic cuisine, wistful wanderings & personal recollections by Sarah Orman.

The airport

The airport


Yesterday was the second time I've been to the airport in two days. As I sat in international arrivals waiting for my mother-in-law who was flying in from Istanbul, an overwhelming sense of emotion rippled over me as a crowd of twenty-something people roared with delight when an eagerly awaited grandma, mom, sister, aunt and friend came into view from behind the swinging doors marked "Do Not Enter."

The crowd was jubilant. They squealed and laughed as the lady slowly made her way towards them. There were balloons, flowers, children running and jumping, people helping out with her luggage, photographs, hugs and of course smiles. Lots and lots of big, happy, out of control smiles. Every one of the twenty-plus crowd was overjoyed to see her and as I watched from afar I shed a tear. For the airport has long been a place of mixed emotions for me.

For six years now I have been accustomed to the good, the bad and the ugly of departures and arrivals. There have been countless ecstatic highs and equally, gut-wrenching lows. And in these six years of airport ups and downs I have come to learn that there is no in-between.

I first experienced the choking uncontrollable tears of departures back in 2007 when my mom and sister came to wish me well as I embarked upon my State-side adventure. After what felt like a lifetime of gripping hugs, I could barely see straight as I stumbled through security clutching what remained of my soggy tissue. No doubt everyone in close proximity to me was staring as I shuffled through the line to remove almost everything I was wearing {airport security hasn't changed in six years}. But I didn't care. They could stare all they wish. No one could distract me from the sniffing, coughing, face-wiping and let's be honest the damn right ugly sobbing that went on in this moment.

And so it began. Six long years of airport goodbyes. And let me tell you that it never gets any easier. My husband and I {then fiancé} even opted to part ways in the middle of central London once, hoping that perhaps the looming dread of saying goodbye only existed at the airport. How very wrong we were. Whilst there was at least the advantage of having barely a couple of seconds for a last embrace, the endless glances and outright staring as I sobbed my heart out hurtling through the Underground stations of central London was much worse than I'd anticipated.

That's enough of the ugly. The sad truth is that although I now spend every day with the one I love, there will always be airport goodbyes given that my family still reside in England. However, for as long as there will be the doom and gloom of departures, there will be the anticipation and excitement of airport arrivals.

I don't really remember the first time I waited for a loved one to disembark and wander through those swing doors scanning the audience for a familiar face. I have forgotten how it felt the first time I experienced the excruciating pain of immigration melting away to reveal anticipation as I frantically searched the sea of awaiting people.

I have been the audience and the eagerly awaited arrival on so many occasions and every single time the excitement is incredible. I've ran towards my husband with open arms and an unstoppable grin. I've skipped through the crowds with the British flag flying over my head as my family and friends appeared in a hysterical huddle.

I've now disembarked so may times at Dulles International Airport I know exactly where to position myself on the strange bus-like vehicle that ferries passengers from the plane to customs and immigration. Every second counts as I race off the vehicle towards the escalator. I pray as I approach the moving steps that my plane is the first of the "European-rush" to arrive. I have practically jumped the last three steps after discovering there is barely a handful of people in-front of me and as I hurriedly walk to the first available Officer {running is most definitely not an option at this point} I am a love-struck teenager on her first date or an anxious three year old on Christmas morning.

Of course there have been moments filled with dread as the snaking line at least eight rows deep has come into view at the top of the walkway. From experience we're talking at least an hour, maybe two. The very thought sends shivers through me. Of course another hour or two is just a drop in the ocean when you haven't seen your loved one for several months. And ultimately, despite my sheer lack of patience, every second of waiting has always been worth it.

As I took a moment to really look at the people around me yesterday afternoon, the good, the bad and the unescapable ugly of airport arrivals and departures was a colorful yet vivid memory of mixed emotions. It occurred to me that I don't recall ever going to the airport without feeling. And although I will always dread the goodbye, the farewell or the see you later, I watched the people celebrating the appearance of their arrival and remembered that this incredible feeling can only ever come from a departure at some point.

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