Friday late afternoon found me dodging cars on the I-270 outer belt, en route to Port Columbus. I was not flying anywhere; Warren was flying back home after a two-day conference in Manhattan.
This was the first trip to New York he's made in recent years without me. My friend Katrina moved to Houston soon after our doll-sorting escapade in 2012, and so New York no longer holds the same appeal it once did. Warren and I had talked about my going along, but the thought of my seeing the Metropolitan Art Museum or walking around the city while Warren attended his sessions paled without Katrina.
I beat the plane by some 20 minutes. That was a bonus. I got to watch a family, four adults and one wriggling, perhaps about 10 years old, anxious girl wait for Tyler, coming home on leave. They had balloons and signs and the little girl kept waving an American flag impatiently. When Tyler finally appeared, the little girl let out a delighted shriek. Others in the area, seeing a young man in military fatigues being covered by hugs and kisses, started clapping, one man even standing up from his fast food meal in the food court to applaud. Tyler turned bright red.
Warren's plane came in at the most distant gate from where we were allowed to wait, so I had plenty of time to watch arriving travelers stream my way. Some were met with hugs and kisses and thumps on the back. Others strode by intent on reaching a car or a shuttle, their eyes focused on a faraway point. Finally, I saw Warren at about the same time he saw me. We waved and I smiled: a familiar face, a well-loved face, my husband's face.
There is an ineffable sweetness to homecomings. The visitors from afar have arrived, the son or daughter or parent or spouse have returned, the circle is complete.
Two weeks from today I will back at Port Columbus, waiting for a different traveler to arrive. This one will be curly headed and walking, although she had little hair and was not even crawling the last time we met. This one will be accompanied by two adults, both of whom are dear to me and one of whom I have known all of his life. And this one will be coming home to Grandma April's house for a whole week.