Musings at an airport.

I write this as I sit at Dublin Airport waiting for a flight to Lisbon for a long weekend City Break. As ever, I have arrived far too early at the airport – a trait which drives my family nuts! But I love airports, and railway stations, and bus stations, anywhere to and from which people are travelling; I could, and do, sit there for hours just people watching. People absolutely fascinate me, our behaviour, our demeanour, everything about us as a species. I think it’s partly to do with the fact that each of us is utterly unique, and that we don’t fit the little boxes into which politicians and bean counters would like to put us. Travelling means ‘hellos’ and ‘goodbyes’, and I am frequently looking on with tears in my eyes, scrap that, tears running down my face sometimes! At departures it can be heart rending seeing families and loved ones parting, but again it is the different actions andreactions which fascinate me. Many of the people here are happy, elated even, they’re off on holiday, going to meet friends and relations, or just travelling for pleasure. but then there are the others for whom parting is definitely ‘such sweet sorrow’. There are all those macho types with a stiff upper lip, to whom I would just love to say ‘loosen up and let your loved one see how important they are’; there are the mums who try so very, very hard not to go to pieces in case it upsets their offspring even more; there are the lovers, official and otherwise, who struggle to let each other go; the business people for whom a handshake suffices; and the children who just behave naturally. I wonder what are the backgrounds to their stories, will they get together again soon? The arrivals hall is usually a completely different picture. Most people are looking forward to meeting and greeting the traveller. There are frequent scenes of total joy (more tears for me!) when families and friends are reunited. Even the official meeters and greeters smile when they make contact with their target. I’ve realised, however, that some of these scenes can also be ones of sadness – people returning because of the illness, or worse, of a loved one; people coming back because life somewhere else didn’t work out; all kinds of reasons for entering a country. Then there are the people like me, and many of you who read this, who are at airports for the sheer joy and delight of travelling, of seeing different countries and different peoples, of hearing different voices, and loving those differences and revelling in every minute spent away. Have a look on your next airport visit, and see if you can spot the happy travellers.

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