Want to Witness True Happiness? Go to an Airport

a yellow board that has the words "arrivals" and "departures" written on it

I am a huge fan of the movie Love Actually. It’s my Christmas season staple. I watch it at least once a year, and subconsciously, my screening criteria for the inner circle of close friends is them having the same level, if not more, admiration for the movie. 

So naturally, I carry it everywhere with me in my head. If you haven’t seen it, you are missing out on a lighthearted ode to love.

the official poster of the movie LOVE ACTUALLY

There is a scene in the movie where the British prime minister, played by the charismatic Hugh Grant, remarks, “Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion’s starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don’t see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere”.

It made me think.

Curiously, I do find that true. And this isn’t specific to Heathrow either. I am no world traveler, but the airports I have had the pleasure to visit, fortunately, painted the same picture.

I had gone off to pick up a relative at the local airport a few months back when I witnessed the same thing.

This airport, being a reasonably small one, allows people to receive guests inside the airport. Visuals of family reunions are heartwarming, even when they are of strangers.

I happened to notice an older woman with a young German Shepherd, leaning by a nearby telephone pillar, with the dog on a tight leash and eyes glued to the escalators taking travelers down to the Arrivals area.

The flight may have been delayed, because the woman was there before I found the nearest bench to sit on. Every 10 minutes or so, she and the dog would go out for a five minute walk, and then come back to the same spot and adopt the same posture.

Twenty minutes into this, I realized another member was in her party—a very young girl who looked like her grandkid. The girl was doing the same thing. Hiding behind another pillar, with her head sticking out, eyes glued at the same spot as her granny’ scanning for a sign of somebody.

It was apparent they were eager to meet this person. There was a lot of love and excitement in that wait. It was contagious. Definitely to the dog, because he, also from time to time, hid behind the woman to not blow her cover. Unsurprisingly though, he was the most distracted of all three.

There was an announcement of flight arrival, and they all became extra cautious, regaining their earlier postures—woman on one corner and grandkid on another.

Suddenly the girl and woman made eye contact, and the girl mouthed something the woman seemed to have lipread because she immediately hid behind the pillar completely, with the dog in tow. The girl must have spotted the person they were receiving. That anticipation lured me in, and I followed the girl’s movement with my eyes. 

The mystery is going to be revealed soon enough, I told myself. 

The girl now seemed to be tiptoeing behind a tall elderly gentleman and, without a moment’s notice, hugged him from behind. The gentleman had barely handed over a giant soft toy to the girl when the older woman and the dog made their way to this man. All three hugged like a family while the dog took turns jumping at all three or pulling at their coats. It was a sweet reunion. 

Heartwarming! 

At that moment, I forgot all I had heard in the news that day; the world was alive and well- a big happy family. The moment reminded me of all the goodness out there in the world. And also that the flight my relative was in had just landed.

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