I race to the baggage area for the usual “hurry up and wait” routine, but the carousel begins its screeching circular belch of bags almost immediately. My cell phone rings when the ‘beep beep beep’ begins and 150 newly arrived passengers swoop in to retrieve their bags before anyone else.
“Hello,” I chirp cheerily on my cell while scanning each bag on the merry-go-round.
“We’re here to pick you up,” daughter welcomes me, in a stressed tone with a capital S. “Come out the doors as quickly as you can. Security guys are watching.”
“Bag’s just about here!” I trill. “Can’t wait to see you!”
As the suitcases circle I wonder about daughter’s use of the word “we.” Our plan had been for her to leave the two kids at home with her husband so we could have some blessed “just mom/daughter” time before the madhouse of a family reunion. We rarely have time to finish a sentence these days – a one-hour car ride with just the two of us sounded like heaven.
Just as my large once-forest green, now cooked-artichoke brown bag sails by, my cell rings.
I pick up the duffel with a yank as I answer.
“Where are you?” sweet daughter shouts.
“Got it!” I reply.
“We’re right at the doors!!”
I begin to run to the right side of the baggage area but stop in confusion. A similar set of doors are also located on the left side. And they each display a sign that says, “Pick-Up: Taxi, Bus, Car.”
I stand in the middle of the large noisy room, vacillating. My cell rings again. Damn.
I shove my hand into my cavernous purse, the one that reminds me of Hermione’s magic bag in Harry Potter, where she pulls out books, clothes, a tent, and a shovel. My fingers search for my phone with no luck. My ring tone blares to the Beatles tune of ‘HELP!,” but I can’t find it anywhere.
So, I bend down in the middle of 100 bustling people and pull out my wallet, make-up bag, roll of Mentos, pack of red licorice sticks, favorite pink pen, hairbrush, and then finally, my phone.
A voice mail awaits me:
“WHERE ARE YOU?”
I hit Reply back and scream, “Which set of doors?”
I throw everything back in my witching bag and take a wild guess, going for the left-hand side doors.
But then I remember, she just bought a new car, and I’ve never seen it. I peer up and down and don’t see anyone I recognize. I open the g.d. phone again and, while standing in the middle of the airport car lane yell, “Can you see me? I can’t see you!”
“We can’t see you! A black van just passed us, did you see it?”
At this point I’m hoping to get run over by it. But then I view a brown hybrid five cars ahead, underneath the overhang. Heart pounding I run toward it with my 50-pound duffel bag, my book bag, my witch purse, and my cell phone at my ear.
Eureka ! My daughter is sitting at the driver’s side! I open the passenger door and almost sit on my mother, who along with 3-year-old granddaughter and 2-year-old grandson is grimacing at me as if I’ve been a very bad girl.
“Find a seat in the back,” they all yell.
Ahhh, family reunions!