Anyone who has watched the movie “Love Actually” may vividly remember the opening scene at the airport. It is an emotion packed scene at the arrivals hall at Heathrow Airport. The seasoned British actor, Hugh Grant, one of the movie’s main characters ushers the viewer at the start with the following monologue:
“Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion’s starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don’t see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often, it’s not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it’s always there – fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know, none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge – they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaky feeling love, actually … is all around.” Love Actually
The airport is a bee-hive of displays of love and affection. As a writer, I can see many story-worthy scenes; scenes of love all around. The goodbye kisses, the welcome embraces, children running up to loved ones, the forlorn glare as a loved one walks away, the scenes are endless. The opening scene captures this powerful display of affection. Affection and love which is not perceived as newsworthy as Hugh Grant nicely iterated. I have seen this love countless times yet amazingly, it never changes. I often wonder “Are they all picture perfect families, friends and lovers?” Perhaps not. However at that moment in time, raw emotions of love is expressed and captured in its rarest form at the arrivals hall of airports.
I apologize to the readers who have not seen the movie. My opening statement may not resonate with them. “Love Actually” is a movie I will recommend to all. For the fellas, yes, it is a “chick flick” but one that I find both funny and realistic. I like this movie simply for its realistic portrayal of love . The nature of true love is often misrepresented in movies. The hero does not always get the girl at the end. Life happens after that lovers kiss which precedes the closing credits. It is not always “a happily ever after” scenario because we are not perfect. I would love to see a movie which screens 10 years into the lives of the same lovers. It will be refreshing to see the weight gain after the birth of the kids, the romance which has dissipated out the window. And perhaps, the romantic couple in divorce court ripping each other apart 10 years down the road. “Love Actually” gives you a glimpse into the messy nature of this enigma called love. You do not always get the girl you want. Love is not always that dignified. Some lose in love, some win. “Love Actually” captures this reality succinctly.
There are times in life when I realize the value of both love and loved ones. In these times I realize that having genuine love and company is indeed priceless. A realization I am confronted with each time I travel. I have been on flights every month for the last 2 years for either work or for fun. All those frequent flyer miles do not make up for what I miss every time I scurry through the halls of an airport.
Oh! About the Ghanaian girl I met at the airport. Well, we just had a nice lunch and caught up since I had not seen her in years. I just thought I’d mention this coincidental encounter in this piece since it was a pleasant surprise to run into her at an airport. Were you expecting more? LOL. I travel alone all the time. No one to kiss goodbye. No one waving with sad eyes as I walk away or even lingering until I disappear into the terminal. No one to welcome me with warm embraces on arrival. My plight is my own doing. The results of my many mistakes and missteps in life. In my love life, I have built fortresses and tore them down with my bare hands.
As a single guy, I find the arrival scenes particularly enjoyable and painful to watch all in one. People actually do miss each other and love each other, I mutter in my thoughts. I can tell from the children waiting eagerly for loved ones with the colorful “welcome home” signs. The people with flowers clutched firmly in their hands waiting impatiently for their loved one to emerge. Their faces lighting up when a loved one eventually comes out. Their smiles get broader and broader until they run from ear to ear.
I prepared for the arrival scene this time around. My headphones most likely tired of repeating Chan Marshall’s indie pop song “The Greatest.” Regardless I do need to indulge in Chan’s melody at this time to soothe the loneliness I feel as I navigate through the arrivals hall. If you have not listened to or heard “The Greatest” by Chan Marshall, I recommend you go check it out. The song itself is haunting, sad and eerily enlivened by Chan’s surreal, punchy and raspy voice. She sings about how wrong we were in thinking that we will be the greatest in life.
Once I wanted to be the greatest
No wind or waterfall could stall me
And then came the rush of the flood
The stars at night turned deep to dust
Chan Marshall..Lyrics from “The Greatest” I know from personal experience that when one is alone all the time, most of one’s time is spent in silence. This silence is carried with me in my travels. There is always endless chatter and noise all around at airports, but this will mostly be the sounds of strangers. I always have a book and good music with me I find solace in the words and the melodies on these journeys. I feel as though I lose touch with reality. It feels as if I have been invited to a party where I only know the host and everyone else knows each other. This moment passes when I retrieve my car from the parking lot. Hugh Grant’s words no longer haunt me until next month. My airport routine is regimented to a point where I do find it rather boring. I check in 24 hours prior to the flight, drive to Los Angeles Airport, park at the long-term parking garage, wait for the terminal shuttle, go through security checks, grab some snacks, find my gate and plant my lonesome self in a seat. When I get on the flight, I am hoping that I get to sit next to a nice person, a cute single woman if I am lucky. I get to my destination, pick up a rental car, drive to the hotel, check in, step out again to find a place to have a lonesome dinner.
Free Wi-Fi is always a welcome blessing at airports. A trip to Starbucks is a must. Some Chai Tea Latte or an Iced Caramel Macchiato always hits the spot. If there is time, window shopping at some of the retail outlets to while away the time does not hurt. It is Los Angeles, and so naturally, celebrities abound. They are a common sight in the LAX airport . I happened to catch a glimpse of Rihanna last month. I tried to take a picture and as luck would have it, my cellphone storage was full!!! Major bummer!! This time around I spotted Michael Irvin, the Dallas Cowboys Football hall of fame legend and sportscaster on ESPN. I happened to be on the same flight as he was. I managed to take some not too good pictures of him. As a California resident, I know that it is rude to take pictures up-close of celebrities or ask them to take a selfie with you. The visitors do that, the locals however just observe and chill.
It is time once again to board a flight. Time to check out some pretty air hostesses hopefully. Time to feels the pangs of isolation for the single traveler in the arrivals hall once again. Hugh Grant, here I come. Chan Marshall, I’m certain I’m going to need you now.
Kwadjo Panyin; From 10,000 feet up in the air….
Kwadjo Panyin is a Ghanaian born relationship and lifestyle blogger located in Los Angeles, California. He holds three degrees; a Bachelors degree from Rutgers University in New Jersey, an MBA from Franklin University in Ohio and a Masters of Science degree from Northern Kentucky University in Kentucky. Kwadjo is a business professional who blogs for fun. His articles are about the challenges of dating and relationship anomalies. Writing, blogging, world travel, and photography are his favorite hobbies.