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The Sweetest Arrival—When They Are There to Meet You

The Sweetest Arrival—When They Are There to Meet You

Welcome Home Sunflowers

Welcome Home Sunflowers

It doesn’t matter what a seasoned traveler you are or if you are 98 years old–everybody needs a “Welcome Home” hug when they step onto the platform.

July 10, 2007

I love to travel alone.  I don’t get lonely, and I have no qualms about eating solo or exploring on my own.  The sense of freedom is exhilarating, and if I decide to stay another week or to get right back on the bus, there’s no argument.

But there is one thing, coming into a new town, that gets me every time—there’s no one to meet me at the station.

Generally in Latin America, even before the bus or train comes to a complete stop, whole families are crowding the platform—beaming mothers, cranky toddlers, proud Papas, oddball cousins, and Gramma waving at the wrong bus.  Fellow travelers descend the stairs into a sea of love.  Uncles help with the luggage, Godparents proffer tacos al vapor, and everybody needs a bear hug and a big kiss.  It doesn’t matter if the traveler is returning from a year backpacking the globe or eight hours selling balloons in the mall across town—everybody gets the hero’s welcome.

I’m swamped by this sea of humanity, hug-less and alone and wondering how far it is to a $10 hotel.  It’s a disorienting feeling that disappears as soon as I’m moving again.  But I definitely feel the twinge on the platform.

One of the million reasons coming home to New York is such a wonderful experience is that someone is always there at the end of the line—loving friends like Bill or Ray, and especially Mom, waiting impatiently on the far side of the x-ray machines with limitless hugs and blueberry muffins and the inevitable “What did you pack in this, your old rock collection?”

Meeting a loved one at the airport here in Guadalajara is almost as wonderful.  Omar and I stand in the crowd outside of immigration, competing to be the first one to spot our arrival.  You used to be able to look in and see baggage claim and customs and wave to your guest, but now they put dividers just inside the doors so you don’t know if that special someone arrived until they pop, confused looking and luggage laden, through the wide door.  Most of our visitors are from the frozen north where flowers cost a fortune, so we always trade our arrival’s luggage for a big bouquet (they think “$75–wow!” and we smile “$3.50—Ahhhhh”) and a huge “Welcome to Mexico” hug.

The guys especially like the flowers.  No one gives a guy flowers.  Give me sunny daffodils and clear blue Japanese irises and I’m yours.

Sometimes it’s nice to surprise someone with warm greetings even when you don’t know them.  There were just two of us on a flight from NYC to Utica a few years ago, and after Rich and Ma gave me a loving welcome we noticed that my fellow traveler, a young man, was alone and perplexed.

Now the Utica airport would never be confused with O’Hare or Atlanta, but this evening the only airline folk around had boarded the plane for Rochester, leaving us alone in a completely abandoned airport.  (You have to understand—in Utica the traffic controllers need to go out to the runway and explain to the cows and the deer that a plane will be arriving soon—would they mind grazing over on the knoll until it lands?)

We asked the young man if he had a ride, and he said no—where are the taxis?  Now, I suppose Utica, 15 miles away, has 5 or 6 taxis, but they don’t go way out to the rural airport.  So we ended up bundling all his luggage along with my mountain of stuff into the car and taking him to a hotel in civilized New Hartford, where he could get a ride the next day to his destination—Unadilla Forks.  Anyone from Unadilla Forks can be forgiven for thinking that a big metropolis like Utica should have taxis at their airport.

I’ve noticed that many families are too cool and sophisticated to get worked up over arrivals these days.  Forget it.  Everybody needs a hug, a fresh-baked pie, and a “Welcome Home-we really missed you!”  I know I do.

Dan and Omar

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A sample text widget

Etiam pulvinar consectetur dolor sed malesuada. Ut convallis euismod dolor nec pretium. Nunc ut tristique massa.

Nam sodales mi vitae dolor ullamcorper et vulputate enim accumsan. Morbi orci magna, tincidunt vitae molestie nec, molestie at mi. Nulla nulla lorem, suscipit in posuere in, interdum non magna.