A year ago, I wrote a post called Homeward Bound about feelings we experienced seeing friends off at the airport. It fooled those who didn’t read it carefully enough into thinking we were heading back to England. That same trek out to the airport is one we now make regularly to collect and drop off friends and relatives and today was one of those days.
We were offered a sage piece of advice before we emigrated. The advice cautioned us to wait eighteen months before having close friends or relatives visit; the reasoning being that it would take that long to grow enough roots to withstand the homesickness and emotional tugging that such visits might occasion. I couldn’t vouch for whether this is true or not but since the eighteen months past, we have had visitors from Australia, the UK and America and haven’t felt the tug or desire to return to the UK.
As I have pondered here before, there might be any number of reasons for this. Perhaps the fact that we’re not from the closest of families or that we live in country in which we can live a lifestyle that is relaxed and fulfilling without costing the earth. There again, the internet does shrink the world to some degree and makes separations easier. I have a brother and sister who also live abroad so emails and digital photos have been our currency for a while. I have met and made good friends with folks whom I have never met, whether through writer’s groups or a shared love of technology and others I have only met because I moved to New Zealand.
Sitting in the arrivals lounge earlier, waiting for SWMBO’s cousin and her friends to emerge from the customs hall, I looked around and took in the variety of greetings and reunions taking place. Curt bows and handshakes for co-workers, barely perceptible nods between world-weary backpackers, shrieking children spotting a tired and tearful grandparent – a distinct and individual story for every passenger and greeter.
As we scooped up our visitors and turned for the car park, I couldn’t help smiling at the woman next to me at the barrier. In youthful middle age, she was was wearing a bright yellow wig, a bowler hat and a pair of fluffy monster feet slippers. She saw my puzzled look and held up a hand-drawn greeter’s banner that read “Welcome to The Ol’ Boy’ as if it explained everything. ‘I’m meeting my Dad’ she said when I still looked puzzled and then, skipping from foot to foot, added ‘I haven’t seen him for thirty-six years so I’m a bit excited’. I laughed out loud and we left her to her preparations, quietly hoping that her Dad’s heart would take the shock that awaited him beyond the Customs Hall.