Hilary came home on Saturday after spending two months in Beijing. She was there on a UC summer program, learning to speak Mandarin. Todd and I headed over to the San Francisco Airport to pick her up. It made me think of lots of things.
Whenever possible, we like to fly out of the Oakland airport. It’s so much easier. But for most international trips we must fly out of SFO and that is appropriate. It’s a big important airport for big important trips. Driving over there this time I paid attention to the journey. The Bay Bridge and the city skyline are iconic; they are the sights that mean we are home. I think it feels that way for Hilary too.
The approach to the airport itself always makes me think of old movies and the romance of travel, even though airports are often more ordeal than romance these days.
And there is something special about the International Arrivals Lobby. Everyone there has a story, and I always wonder what it is. Who are they waiting for? How long have they been apart? Is the traveler a visitor or someone making their way home? I know how exciting those long waiting minutes — hours — can be, watching the monitors and checking for texts. About a dozen plane loads of people were going through customs together, so we had plenty of time to watch people and make up their stories while we waited for our own happy ending.
It’s hard to tell, but there is a Hello Kitty suitcase at the bottom of this pile. That makes me smile.
It is very likely that in the coming years my girls’ adventures will take them farther away for longer periods of time. That’s not my favorite. Up to now I knew the path, but we are entering the uncharted territory of parenthood and it is definitely bittersweet.
So I will savor the homecomings.
Welcome home, Hilary.