Saturday, July 21, 2007

Cry Baby

Airports are difficult for me. They bring tears to my eyes almost as much as hospitals do. I’ve had so many emotional experiences in airports that I associate it with tears; tears of joy, tears of sadness, tearful farewells, tearful ‘I missed you so much’-s.

When I was younger, airports were frequently visited to wave off my dad as he left for business trips. As a true Daddy’s Girl, and the baby of the family, I kicked off on a temper tantrum every time he left. As we watched him walk away from us, through Security, with his smart clothes and his briefcase, he would turn and wave to his little family. I’d try my best to breath deeply, even as a five year old Princesse I knew I had to be brave until Daddy was out of sight. He found it difficult enough to leave us for a week or so on business, so I always held in the tears until he had walked around the corner into Duty Free and the Department Lounge out of sight. At this point my entire chin would quiver uncontrollably and seconds later I was lying on the ground, screaming and crying out for my daddy to come home.

On his return, we would head back to the airport to welcome dad, eager to see him and what wonderful presents he had brought us back from Berlin / California / Paris / Milan this time. He would emerge from the Arrivals amidst other businessmen and women dressed in sombre suits and my brother and I would run towards him, arms outstretched screaming ‘Daddy! Daddy!’ Pleased as punch to be back home and greeted by his young family he’d bend down and scoop me up into his arms. His baby girl. He’d take my brother’s hand in his big one, and embrace my mum with delight. I’d be so happy I’d cry.

And then, when I ‘grew up’, I moved abroad to France.

Airports became places full of emotion for me. The first farewell was exchanged at the delightful time of 4am at Edinburgh Airport. I didn’t cry. I was feeling something that resembled fatigue mixed with excitement. Waving goodbye to my mum, who had kindly insisted on getting up at an absurd hour of the morning to drive me and my friends to the airport, I managed to stave off any tears, instead finding the excitement of finally living in France an effective distraction.

But six months later, on my return home for a short stay in Scotland over the Christmas holidays I was taken over by extreme emotion. When I came out the arrivals gate at Glasgow Airport, I saw my parents and, all of a sudden, I found it absolutely impossible to hold back my tears of joy at being reunited with them. They were huddled together, holding hands and looking out of place in an airport late at night surrounded by young backpackers. Dad was wearing his red jacket, which I’d warned him never to wear in my company for fear someone might associate me with him, and I smiled. Silly man, he had worn the red jacket in my honour. He loved embarrassing me. Minutes later I was squashed against my parents in some kind of Princesse Sandwich, sobbing heavily like there was no tomorrow. Had someone died? My dad had asked me. No, I was just so overwrought with emotion to see them, so happy to be home.

But then came the time when I was greeted at Beauvais Airport by a very handsome FP who smiled shyly at me as I emerged with my battered old suitcase. From that moment I knew it was only time before airports would begin to play a large part in our relationship.

Time and time again, farewells with FP said at Beauvais Airport and occasionally at Edinburgh Airport, were rife with sadness, regret and speeches of I-love-you-so-much and Don’t-forget-me. In fact, so many tears were shed by myself that I became quite used to going through Passport Control or getting a taxi back home with a pale face, quivering chin and mascara streaking my cheeks.

FP is very good at making farewell speeches that tug at my heartstrings and make me feel that I can’t possibly leave him otherwise my heart will stop and I’ll dye of love sickness. I have been known to ask him to please not say the word ‘goodbye’. I’ve also gone as far as to ask him just to walk away from me without saying a single word, in a way that will trick my mind into thinking he’s just gone to the shop to buy me some chocolate and a glossy magazine and he’ll catch me up when the queue at Security has calmed down.

This time, we stood in a snaking queue at Check-In, surrounded by young families with toddlers and naughty children and gorgeous babies with marshmallow hands. FP and I had reassured each other over and over again, ‘Och the flight leaves at 11 at night, it’ll be dead quiet’. But we turned up late, after I had a fight with my suitcase and he had refused to pack me into the car while I was having a tantrum on the floor of the bedroom, only to find that every Glaswegian and his dog were taking my flight.

Merde. I prepared myself to be squashed tightly in between the two most fattest, sweatiest men for the hour and a half flight.

During our hour long wait in what shall now be known as The Queue From Hell, we had striked up a conversation with the lovely Scottish lady in front of us and realised that her husband was French. (As it happens, the family in front of them was also Franco-Ecossaise, and, I later discovered, several other families were half and half. Encouraging! Although now I know it’s very common I feel less special). Her husband magically appeared out of the nearest shop with a baby boy on his shoulders. The most beautiful baby boy, like, ever.

The baby was bald, and had huge, brown, bambi eyes like his daddy. He flashed the most gorgeous smile at us (the baby, not the dad), and he giggled when I stuck my tongue out at him and made the obligatory silly faces one must make when faced with a baby. But baby wasn’t interested in me. Baby was interested in FP.

For the duration of the wait in the queue, the baby looked at FP, sometimes studying his face, as though he was trying to work out where he knew him from, other times giggling and drooling, smiling and clapping his podgy hands. As I watched my boyfriend smiling at baby, it occurred to me...

One day, that could be FP and me.

After I left my man (yes - tearfully) at Passport Control, I watched the family who had been in front. Like us, the man was staying behind in Paris. The Scottish lady was travelling back home alone, with their baby.

And then I wondered if, in a few years time, I would be that Scottish lady, travelling home to Scotland alone with our baby. And I wondered if it was entirely a positive thing or not.

Does this mean that even when FP and I are married and have a family of our own that I’ll never be rid of those emotional trips to the airport? Am I destined to always have to queue in snaky lines at check-in and passport control and say tearful farewells to my man?

Perhaps it will be my daughter trying to stay brave until I’ve walked through into departures out of sight, before she erupts into tears. And, when I enter the departures lounge will I be crying just as much as her?


FP said...

wonderfull post and full of hope for me... that's a great Princesse Ecossaise post.. baby you are wonderfull to me. One day we will see what futur brings to us.
lots of love... X X X X


Lis of the North said...

Pensive Princesse post here! I can say truthfully that I know where you're coming from on this one. Hope you are not stuck at home with the dissertation for too long - just get it finished girl!!!

Ghosty said...

My God, still with the dissertation?

My recent ex feels the same way about train stations that you do about airports. We have a whole line of inside jokes and hidden nuances concerning 'Gate C' at Union Station. Trust me, you just don't want to know.

Anonymous said...

I totally understand you ! I feel the same with airports. They're a place to cry, a place to hope, a place to leave for another life... I had a lot of experience with them !

I usually don't allow anyone to take my to the airport when I leave cause I get to emotionnal. Espacially now with all the security, it's basically checking backs and going to the boarding gate alone.

I love the feeling when someone is waiting for me at the airport though. Looking for the other person, seeing him/ her, having someone to confort you after a long flight...

Miss Despina said...

That's all so sad and sweet and true Princesse! I had a lump... It's airport time for me tonight too :( I think I'll just tell him I'm going to the loo, (since I go every 10 minutes anyway).
Hooray, you put your award on the wall!

Princesse Ecossaise said...

FP, ahhh comment t'es si mignon mon tresor! Yes, only time can tell but whatever happens, I'm quite sure our future together is going to be wonderful, just like our past together. Je t'aime x x

Ah Lis, I'm trying with the dissertation, really I am, but it's just so god damn boring. Well anyway, I aim to have most of it finished by the end of the week and very soon I'll be back in France with my lovaaaaiiir!

Yes Ghosty Still with the bloody dissertation!!!!!

Zhu, I too love the feeling of finding someone waiting for you at arrivals, it's so much better than arriving at the airport and having no one there, it's embarrasing when you lok around and see everyone else's friends and family and no one is there for you - I hate that!

Oh Despi! Is that J going back home already?! How did time pass so quickly??!! Well Good Luck! Although, perhaps it's already been and gone, but I hope it wsn't too difficult...poor Despina and Jez, I totally know how it feels!

And yes! Thankyou so so soooo much for my award! You're a star mmmwah!

mrsnesbitt said...

Airports bring out the worst in me!


T.D. Newton said...

It is such a beautiful story. We are all lucky that we can experience life through your eyes and I hope, at the very least, we will continue to do so whatever your future might bring.

Nothing is certain except the vision of what you wish to build out of the raw materials of your life.

sylvie d said...

Airports...I love it! they are so charged with raw emotions like yours!!!
The best is people watching in airport and do the guessing game...that's when I have been waiting for too long when a flight has been delayed. I love it so much that I even worked as a flight attendant for a while!
Good luck with the dissertation!