When I was a little girl, I used to visit my grandma. We had a special relationship and I wanted to stay there with her forever and ever, where I felt comfortable, safe, and loved up.
After a visit, when my parents came to pick me up, she would stand on her front porch and wave goodbye until our car passed over the last rise and out of sight. I always had the feeling that she stayed there, for a minute or two afterward, with her hand raised in a wave just to make sure that I, teary-eyed, with my nose pressed against the back window of the car, could no longer see her.
Last Sunday, when I left Chile, friends gave me a ride to the airport. I had three big bags to check in, plus a small carryon and a shoulder bag. When I moved to Chile in 2011, I had intended to live there permanently so, other than the four small boxes I had mailed back to myself, my whole life was packed into those suitcases.
At the airport, my friends didn’t just pull up to the curb and drop me off, they pulled into the parking lot and got out with me. Javi, wrestliing my suitcases out of the car, and Sarah, pushing the cart with the mountain of bags on it.
Inside, they didn’t just deposit me in the check-in line. They got in line with me and waited there for an hour and a half as we poked along by inches. I was concerned that they would miss the beginning of the big soccer match. Chile vs. Argentina for the Copa America Centennial championship, but they assured me that it was okay.
When I finally reached the head of the line, Javi heaved my three bags onto the scale, one at a time, and we cheered together as they each weighed in just under 23 kilos. The maximum, fifty pounds.
They walked with me down to PDI, the Chilean police, where they check your documents before passing through security. Javi and Sarah couldn’t go with me into that area. Ticketed passengers only. But after we hugged a long goodbye, they stood at the big glass windows and watched, waving and blowing kisses to me until it was my turn, and even after, as I passed from PDI to the security area.
I returned their waves and kisses until I lost sight of them as I passed through security. I walked to my gate, thinking of them and of my grandmother, recognizing that feeling of being supported and taken care of. Loved up.
Once again, I’m reminded of one of my favorite literary characters. I quote A.A. Milne, through Winnie-the-Pooh and his friend, Piglet.
“We’ll be friends forever, won’t we, Pooh?” asked Piglet.
“Even longer,” Pooh answered.