I love the airport, especially when I’m not traveling myself, and especially in LA. The diversity amazes me. I could watch people coming and going for hours. The energy! All those lives coming together from different places, hovering in one place and time for a few minutes, and then kareening off again in different directions. There’s a magic to it that I can never quite put my finger on.
The other day, I got another gift: unexpected tears.
I was waiting by the baggage claim — my mom’s flight had finally arrived an hour late. A young man in military camos came out the double-doors. There was a streak of black hair as someone darted through the crowd, and then THOOOOM! He was tackled by his wife. She leaped into his arms and he stumbled back. Then they spun and spun and spun.
Tears were suddenly in my eyes, before I even had a chance to process the emotions behind them. This soldier had been in Iraq. His wife’s vault into his arms said everything about the months of desperation and hope and prayers and longing. Everyone in the area could feel it. I was not the only one suddenly dabbing her face with her sleeve. It breaks my heart even just thinking about it — I wish you all could have seen them, could have felt the honesty and the rawness of it.
After they’d spun a few times, and kissed, and stared into each other’s eyes grinning like fools, people started coming up to them, thanking him, thanking her. Shaking their hands. Tears just kept coming. My mom came out a minute or two later, when I was wiping my eyes again. She said, “Did you see that boy from Iraq? I want to thank him.”
It was a good day at the airport.