Today my Mum flew back to Sydney after spending three months with us in London. She comes every year so I’m used to having to say goodbye, but it never gets any easier.
I’m not normally an overly emotional person but something weird happens to me at airports. I turn into one of those blithering idiots that attracts the attention of an extensive audience at the departures gate. The type that people step sideways away from. As though I have Ebola.
So a couple of years ago I stopped going to the airport altogether when it came time for Mum to leave and Rob would go instead. It was just too embarrassing and stressful.
However this isn’t just when Mum leaves, it can be anyone. In fact it doesn’t even have to be when they’re leaving. The same thing happens when Mum arrives. Sometimes it happens before her plane has even landed. When I’m at the arrivals gate waiting for her I see other people’s happy reunions and I start blubbering. I don’t even know these people yet I get so emotional and carry on like they’re my long lost lover returning from war.
The ones that get me the most are backpackers returning from their world trips. Where the parents are waiting anxiously having not slept for the past year worrying about them. I can spot them a mile away, usually before their own families have, and I feel like the biggest freak standing there watching with tears sliding down my face.
So anyway, today I had to take Mum to the airport because Rob was working late. I cried like I normally do but I didn’t do anything embarrassing which is always good when you’re me at the airport. I was feeling pretty pleased with myself as I left Mum, however on my way back to the car park I started crying again, got to my car and had forgotten to pay for the parking. About 744 hours later when I finally found the bastard parking payment machine, it wouldn’t accept my card and I had no money.
I don’t know what the hell came over me, I could have easily walked back into the terminal and withdrawn some more cash but I burst into tears and leant against the machine so the entire contents of my bag spilt all over the floor. A guy collecting the luggage trolleys came to see what was wrong and I couldn’t stop crying … one of those crys when snot leaks out of your head and you can’t breathe. Everyone in the queue thought I was crying because I had no money so the guy behind gave me a tenner and told me it was okay I could keep the change.
I’m never going back to Heathrow again. Ever. My face is still burning with embarrassment.