The other day I had the opportunity to spend some time at the international arrivals gate at the airport. No, I do not just like to hang out at the airport. Yes, I was picking someone up.
My brother and his family were arriving from France and somehow, they got stuck at customs. Could have been the crying baby, but who really nows?!
Anyway, if you ever want to witness pure joy for a small (parking) fee, the international arrivals gate at any airport will do. For the first time in who knows how long, families and friends are reunited. Maybe even strangers are meeting for the first time.
But the joy and delight and sheer relief of seeing someone that you love walking towards you is palpable. I must admit, I was crying myself. And I didn’t even know any of these people.
So of course, being me, it got me to thinking about how I show love to people that aren’t even far away.
Does my husband know that I love him by my actions? I will admit, it has been quite some time since I have rushed towards him with my arms open and my smile wide at the first glimpse of his handsome face at the end of the day. Come to think of it, have I ever done this?
And what about my kids? Do I get giddy tingles when I hear their little voices giggling (read: arguing) first thing in the morning? Or have I sat in endless snuggles with them on the couch while watching a movie? It’s actually more possible that you would find me sneaking in one last load of laundry instead of catching up on hugs and kisses.
Well, I will admit it, in hind sight, I guess I could do a lot better job of showing off my love instead of saving it for some special occasion. Because, lets face it guys, we all hope for some special occasion but they rarely ever happen on their own.
Someone has to plan them. And that someone might as well be me.
HOW DO I SPEND MY TIME?
- The actual “back-to-school” day
- Re-buying lost school supplies
- Putting together agendas for various PTO meetings
- Church calling prep
- Organizing rides to and from football practice
And the list just goes on.
Look at how I am spending my time? I mean, it looks like I am being efficient. Kind of. My calendar looks like a rainbow, all filled with obligations I am responsible for. Outside of the home.
But no where on my list of things to do have I scheduled in down time. Or time to sit and snuggle with loved ones. Or even a really hot date. Because it is really hot here in Texas right now—108 degrees Fahrenheit. And that’s not counting humidity.
So, if I pull out my trusty math skills and add up all that time spent serving others and spreading my attention around like thinly spread butter, I can easily determine where my interests lay. And, the total sum does not look good. My time is being spent outside of the home.
There has been no time scheduled in for running down the hallway full tilt towards my shocked looking husband.
And you can bet, by the end of a day filled with PTO meetings, football practice, hangry kids and homework, there will not be any dewy-eyed bed times with endless rounds of “I Am a Child of God” sung quietly to little boys slipping quietly into dream land. Bed time will have become another item on the long list of to-do’s.
PDA: PUBLIC DISPLAYS OF AFFECTION
Unfortunately, I cannot change my obligations at this point. But I can issue a challenge to myself. I can challenge myself to be more conscious of taking time to show love. To show the kind of love that is undeniably obvious.
The one thing I loved about that scene at the airport was that no one held back. The ones who were waiting at the gate weren’t just standing there with their eyes glued to their phones. They were pressed as close as they could be to the guard rail. Their eyes were searching the distance for just a glimpse of that someone they yearned for.
The mere fact that they battled rush hour traffic to be there was enough to set my head spinning. Rush hour traffic is love.
And finally, when their loved one was spotted, the person waiting let them know it. They waved their arms, shouted for joy, and cried with relief. What a welcome! Who wouldn’t want to come home to that outward show of love and affection?
As I waited for my brother and his family, I wondered if I would exhibit the same symptoms of love and affection when I saw them as my fellows at the arrival gate. I don’t consider myself as someone who thrives on PDA. It’s something that I usually try to avoid.
But no, I wasn’t immune to it. When it was my turn to lock eyes on a familiar face, I felt my heart begin to race. My brother hadn’t seen me yet, and still, I waved my arms in the air like I just didn’t care. I ran along towards the front of the entrance gate. I even had to hold back wild exclamations of jubilation.
They were here! My loved ones had arrived. And weren’t they a sight for teary eyes?!
At that moment, I felt such awe for my brother and his family. When we finally came together, I hugged them all tight and told them how happy I was to see them. They responded in kind. It had been a long two years since we had last met. Bienvenue from France!
STUCK IN THE MOMENTS
As we walked to the car however, I noticed something strange begin to happen. The excitement began to wear off. I was still excited to see my brother, but the stress of losing my car in the parking garage and then finding my way back home through toll roads and intersecting interstates began to deaden the excitement.
And so, I suppose, that is the way it is with life.
We become so overwhelmed with becoming “stuck” in situations of our own making that sometimes our senses become dulled. Maybe we just don’t feel like we used to. It’s hard to feel giddy about kissing your husband goodnight when you are worried about the responsibilities of tomorrow.
Those responsibilities will still be there tomorrow, but tonight won’t.
Or how about just the way we talk to one another. When we are in a hurry, already ten minutes late, and still half an hour away, do we choose the most flattering phrases? Or are we still stuck on who forgot to take out the garbage. Because that’s why we are late, right?!
It is in those moments that we really have to ask ourselves:
“What is more important right now? The person that I love or showing up late?”
Showing up late is never fun, and probably not a good idea. But I hope you understand what I am trying to say here. You don’t have to repair a relationship that has not been destroyed in the first place. At the end of the day, you are still going to be with your spouse or children or brother or friend, but the late arrival will have been all but forgotten.
I hate to even admit this, but I didn’t even want to go the airport that day. It was another item on that long list of to-do’s. In fact, I was secretly hoping my husband would volunteer to make the trip.
But, right when I stepped into the arrival terminal and felt the energy in the air, I felt a little bit ashamed.
Because, I knew where I needed to be that afternoon, and it wasn’t at home crossing things of a to-do list.
It was right there, witnessing the joy of reunion after reunion. There is an honesty to love that someone chooses to share without holding back or worrying about tomorrow. And I want that.
I would not have known that had I not seen it in action.
So here is what I am going to do. I am going to step away from this computer. Right now it is 9:38 at night. Tomorrow I have a closet full of clothes in my boy’s room to restore to order and a meeting in the afternoon to prepare for. I also have a book to read and review and laundry to fold and stuff under my bed for another day.
But, my husband is downstairs somewhere. I am assuming he is unwinding after driving to and from football practice. I haven’t spent more than five minutes alone with him all week. And it’s Thursday. Shame on me.
There is a TV show that I would really like to watch, but I know where I should be.
And it’s there with him; not worrying about tomorrow or what I could be doing with the last few hours of the day. Maybe I won’t run down the stairs with my hands in the air screaming uncontrollably my joy and excitement of seeing him after a long week of here and there’s and to-do’s and did-not’s.
I will, however, make the occasion. I will be honest with my time and with him. And I will remember that reunions should be very very sweet.
Jessica Clark is a wife, mom, writer, runner, knitter, and proud Canadian. She graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in Anthropology, and has been a student of people and cultures ever since. Right now she is busy studying the behavior and cultures of the people of Texas.