In the three and a half years we’ve known each other, Mike and I have spent at least 3 weeks apart nine times now. When Mike was still living in PNG there was the three months apart right after we started dating and three and a half more after we got engaged. There were four month-long overseas consultancies Mike did during our first year of marriage. We spent about half of the first six months of last year apart before our move to Laos. And then there’s been this last ten weeks.

Mike will arrive into the Gold Coast tomorrow morning at about 7:30am, so when I haven’t been wondering whether the baby will beat him here I’ve been thinking a lot about reunions lately.

The last couple of days before a reunion I used to get oddly nervous. I wanted to be back together again but I often caught myself fretting about his return, too. What if he’d changed? What if I had? What if we struggled to find things to talk about? What if it was weird and we ended up staring at each other over the dinner table (or in bed) wondering, “who are you, and what are you doing here again?”

I’m not feeling nervous about Mike getting here this time – possibly because when I haven’t been busy forgetting all about appointments and planned skype calls any fretting I’ve done in the last ten days has run more along the lines of: “who am I, and how did I end up pregnant and living with my parents again?” So given that Mike is landing here in ten hours I’d say I’m home free this time, because even when I did get nervous in advance of a reunion I was usually beyond the anxious stage by the time I reached the airport.

I always aimed to get to the airport not too long after Mike’s plane was scheduled to land so that I’d be there before he exited customs. I wrote the following in my journal the day after one of these pickups during our first year of marriage:

I don’t mind these airport waits as long as they don’t go on too long. You can’t maintain that focused state of excited expectation for too long before it rises, crests, and transforms into something else for a while – boredom, thinking about things I need to do, anxiety. But as long as they don’t drag on beyond an hour there’s a wonderful concentration to these snippets of waiting to come together again. A profound gratitude, and amazement, that we have journeyed halfway around the world and yet again found our way safely back to each other. A wonder at the mystery of relationships, at how my life has been transformed during the last two years in ways I had never imagined.

I like standing there in the airport anticipating the moment that Mike will come through that door. I like watching other people doing their own waiting and wondering what has bought them to that point. I like feeling a part of the mystery of a thousand separate lives all meeting at that single moment like a huge tangled ball of living yarn.

Waiting in the airport is that turning point from the busyness of getting ready to have him home and the solitude of the last month. The familiar happiness of reunion begins before he even appears, although the instant of greeting is always a slightly different experience. Yesterday, the kiss I’d been anticipating – that radiant singular moment of greeting – was fleeting and not as electric I’d expected. The hug was better. All warm, and stubbly, and smelling him familiar, his hands firm against my back, tilting my face up towards him as you lift it to sunshine on a spring day.

Our last LAX reunion before moving to Laos - June 2010

What have been your experiences with reunions – what do they make you think and feel? Do you have any reunion traditions?

8 responses to “Reunions

  1. Lisa, your honesty makes me tear up and reminds me of the reunions with my Dad at Sydney airport almost every year for the last decade. My favourite being meeting Dad in Circular Quay after arriving on a cruise ship – even amongst the busy crowds of people and the changes the years bring on us, it is amazing that you always recognise your kin in an instant.

    I wonder whether that will also be true of your next meeting with your newest member of your family?

    Much love
    Katy xo

    • Ah, meeting on the Quay from a cruise ship. There’s something so old-school nostalgic about such a scene. Thanks for sharing Katy… I’ll let you know how it goes with meeting the newest member of the fam.

  2. “like a huge tangled ball of living yarn” — Man, I love your writing.

  3. I always get a bit anxious before a reunion too! when i went to South Africa to meetup with Mark (who was already over there) and his family – i spent all my time going through customs stressing that i wouldn’t be able to remember what he looked like! (and by this stage we’d been housemantes for 3 years, and together as non-housemates for a six or so months)! it’s quite insane, but i often do that.

    that being said, like you, i do love the waiting at the international arrivals at melbourne aiport. there is always something exciting about the anticipation of everyone there.

    hope you guys are doing well!

    • We are thanks, it’s nice to be back together again in this window of peace just before the baby comes. And, reunions, yeah… Mike doesn’t get this at all, but I’ve spoken to enough women (it does generally seem to be women on this one) to think that it’s not just me that can do this.

  4. My most memorable reunion was several years ago when I arrived in northern BC to visit my parents, but I didn’t tell them I had cut my blonde hair short and dyed it dark brown. It was a small airport, and they were anxiously watching each person get off the plane, but didn’t even recognize me. I got to come up from behind and shock the heck out of them :).

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