Spead the Love

December 12, 2011
I watch the people rush by me, becoming nothing but a blur of colors in the overcrowded airport. The symphony of sounds never ceases to amaze me. Wheels on a suitcase rolling across the tiles, people chattering, and the constant reminders over the intercom create a unique harmony.
Smiling from ear to ear, I grip my suitcase, happy to be off the plane. I will never be able to grasp how a giant chunk of metal can fly. Soon, though, I’ll be far away from these giant metal birds in the small little town of Davis. After a week in San Diego, I’m ecstatic to be closer to my home. There are no huge buildings towering over you, taxis are rarely seen and traffic lights are never more than thirty seconds. To me, big cities are frightening. Though the crowds don’t faze me, I feel so small and insignificant next to all the big buildings and speeding cars. I feel like I’m nothing more than an ant trying to get back home.
My mom and I are waiting right outside the airport, at the busy pick-up curb. We, like many people, are waiting for a friend or family member to get us away from the bustling airport. My dad had taken my siblings in search of our car. My mother just received a text from him, saying he is on his way back with the car. That was about five minutes ago.
Feeling the tug of boredom, I start to get impatient. I fidget with my thumbs, my hair, my shirt and even the potted plant next to me. I also start to be more aware of the subtle things around me. Every little discomfort I have seems multiplied by ten. The air is hot and still, not a chance of a breeze. Sticky sweat starts to form on my forehead as I search for a place in the shade of the building. Next I become aware of the twinge in my ankle, still recovering from a previous injury. Shifting from foot to foot, I suppress an irritated moan. I need a distraction.
I search around for some sort of sight or activity I can occupy myself with. I survey all the people around me, all the shapes sizes and colors you can imagine. Some people are by themselves, a melancholy look on their faces. There are moms with little children, screaming with excitement all around them. Some people were in a group of friends, laughing and enjoying good times. Then there are the quiet families. They smile and stare sweetly at each other, unbroken and loving. One of these families caught my eyes.
They are a family of three, mother, daughter, and father. The father’s clothes are camouflaged with many hues of green, the type worn by the men and women in the army. He is carrying a bulky, olive green backpack upon his lean shoulders. On his head was a cap of the same color, covering most of short, dark hair. His daughter looks about nine years old, with the same dark hair as him. She is beaming with joy. Her daddy probably just arrived home from Afghanistan. I smile, happy that the man was able to come home and see his family. I could see that he loved them very much. It shows in his green eyes.
Interrupting my admiration of the love this man had, a group of old men emerge from the airport, their loud voices cutting through the usual chatter. I roll my eyes in annoyance. The group consists of three elderly men, all probably in their seventies. One of them looks particularly old and cranky. He has a round pot-belly you usually see on a pig. The white and gray stubble on his cheeks seem uneven and flaky and the wrinkles around his eyes are droopy and limp. His expression was something that looked like a mix between a smirk and a scowl. He is yelling some incomprehensible stuff, which I probably don’t even want to understand. Then he did something amazing, something which changed all my thoughts about him.
The elderly man stopped yelling, stopped scowling, stopped smirking, stopped everything. His face was now soft, his eyes glimmering. He was gazing at the military family. He took a hesitant step, though still showing some confidence. He took another and another until he walked all the way over to the small, quiet family.
“Hello, it’s very nice to meet you,” his gruff voice was still loud, but subdued with respect. I couldn’t catch the next couple word he said. He probably introduced himself. He takes the army man’s hand and shakes it, then pulls him into a tight embrace. The way they hugged was so brotherly, so tender. I can’t remember the last time I hugged someone like that, with meaning.
A moment of panic shoots through my system out of nowhere. What if I haven’t shown enough love to my family? Do they know how I truly, deeply love them? I take a couple deep breaths to calm myself, and then I continue to listen to the old man.
“Thank you so much,” the old man says, his eyes twinkling with gratitude, “for your service for our country.”
The man and his family looked surprised, their eyes wide. The father nodded his head once, letting all the shock of the statement disappear. The family now smiled, their eyes welcoming the man.
“And thank you,” The old man continues turning to the little girl, his voice tight with passion, “for letting your daddy go so far away from home.”
The girl’s soft brown eyes were wide as she whispered a small, “You’re welcome.”
Her mother smiles, tears watering her eyes. A warm feeling spreads through my body, and I recognize it as love.
“I got something for ya,” the old man reaches into his pocket and hands something to the girl. She grabs it and holds it up to the sun. It was a shining metallic sticker of a pilot’s badge. The girl eagerly peels the sticker off its back and places it over her heart.
The old man smiles, then says thank you one more time, before heading back to his original spot.
“Cassie,” my mother’s voice jerks me back into my life. “They’re here. Can you help me with the luggage?”
“Ok,” I say, lifting my bag and hers. My dad was sliding our gold van into a loading spot for us to put our luggage in the car. Though I was helping with the luggage, my mind kept going back to the old man and what he did. Why didn’t I go up and thank the soldier and his family? Why couldn’t I show them the love that the old man did?
My mind is troubled as I step into the car. Why am I so hesitant to show people my love for them? I must be too shy…
I can’t live my life being shy, hiding behind the emotional barriers of my mind. I can’t let the brave people do all the work. I need to spread the love too!

I feel guilty, like I’ve done something horrible, when really I’ve done nothing at all. A jolt of realization shocks me right after that thought. Maybe doing nothing at all is the problem. Maybe I need to take action. I need to show people that I love them.
I look out the window of the car, watching the flat ground of the Central Valley pass by. I could learn a lesson from today. This memory will probably stick with the soldier’s family, more than it will to me, but I will hold on to it for as long as I can. I won’t forget the gratitude and love shown by the old man. I will take his boldness and use it in my life.
I look back at the airport, sending a silent thank you to the kind, old man.

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This article has 2 comments. Post your own now!

LenoreNevermore said...
Jan. 31, 2012 at 2:38 pm
dense. haha, jk. the format's weird.
TheRavenNevermore said...
Jan. 1, 2012 at 2:38 pm
love it! you know I do!
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