Sunday, March 1, 2009

Feb 15th: Airport

I like going to the airport. The best occasion for an airport visit is when I go on vacation somewhere, the second best is when I get to go pick up someone. Since we started having kids, the only times I have been to the airport has been to either go on business trips to St Pete, Florida or to pick up family members arriving from NL. (Since this thought went through my head the other day I realized it is time for Aaron and I to go on a trip together, we are planning to do so this fall. More on that in another post).
What I love is that at the airport you see people who were possibly on the other side of the world just 12 hours ago. You see airplanes at the hangar next to one another, one bound for Asia and the one next to it for Europe. People are generally going or coming back from an exciting vacation, or they are visiting California for the first time. There are also those who are in the US for the very first time, to live here. I kind of know how they feel...
Feb 15th finds me at SFO waiting for my Dad and Kathleen. My Dad has been in the US 3 times in the past 2 years. A lot for him! He was here in September with Rogier, and now to meet Annelies, his second grandchild. We take the same flight to 'commute' between Amsterdam to SFO. KL 605/KL 606. Too excited to sleep the night before, I checked to make sure the flight had taken off and was expected to arrive on time. I leave the house at 11, to be at SFO and have the car parked around 1:15. The International Terminal was remodeled a few years back. As I walk from the garage to the terminal I think back over the past 20 years, and how many times I have been to that airport. Too many to count. That is part of being an immigrant, I guess (well, not all people who move here go back as often as I do, probably, or have friends/family come out so often.)
Standing at Gate A (there is A and G, not fully sure what the logic is behind those letter choices, but I am sure there is one...) I look up to see the monitor. Cool new addition- they have monitors that allow you to see the passengers before they even get to the gate. The flight status monitor indicats that the passengers are in customs. Having just had a child, my emotions are a little bit out of whack, and standing next to people reuniting with friends and family members they have not seen for a while, or never seen in cases where grandparents get to meet their small grandchildren for the first time, makes me tear up a little. From happiness of course. The first sign that the reunion is getting closer is the KLM crew. They wear such recognizable outfits. I almost want to thank the pilot for bringing me my family safely (hey, this sounds corny but there have been 2 airplane crashes and that one landing in the Hudson in the past few weeks...). Then come the yellow bags. When you buy something at Schiphol, you get a yellow bag for your purchases. That bag says on it "See, Buy, Fly". It has been that way from the beginning (the 80's). When I start seeing passengers with those bags, I know it is any moment before they are here. My nervousness kind of peaks a little. Will we be OK right away, will there be awkwardnesses? Especially now, with Annelies in our picture. This does not last very long because when they arrive, it is like we just saw each other. It seems to me that when any of my family arrive, we are able to pick up the thread where we left off during our last conversation. I think that is a skill we all learned from living on opposite sides of the world (OK, NL is about 1/3rd across if you want to get technical). The 2 weeks they spend with us go by so fast, as usual. But they give us an opportunity to talk, understand each other even a little better, catch up, and create more lasting memories until the next time one or a couple of us travel across the pond (If you want to get technical again, when you fly to NL you travel across Canada, Greenland, the Greenland Sea,Iceland, the UK and the North Sea.) :)

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