I arrived at the airport at 12 noon. I couldn't sleep anyway and what if his plane landed early? (yeah right, an early international flight, right?) M still had not called, but what else was I going to do? I had driven 12 hours to pick this man up from the airport. . . . I walked around the airport shops looking for food. Drank some juice and watched others waiting for their families in the international section of the waiting area. There weren't very many stores because this section of the airport was undergoing renovations.
I found a phone card after walking around for a while and called M's home number to see if he picked up the phone. One of his brothers answered. I called the cell phone, no answer. It wasn't a definitive answer, but at least I knew he wasn't stupid enough to have ditched me and then answered the phone. The brother who answered the home phone seemed to be trying to tell me he wasn't there anymore, but with our broken language lines, I just couldn't be sure.
I checked the flight prompter, each time I checked it there was a different delay, it went from on-time to one hour delay, to thirty minute delay and then to landed. The plane marked landed around 1:45 pm and by 2:30 I was getting antsy again. I was pacing a little and each time the doors opened I watched intently to see any sign of which flight was coming in, an impossible task considering that there was such a crowd and I couldn't catch a glimpse of a ticket or luggage tag, and was too far back to question anyone as to which plane they had gotten off of.
I began to notice that other people who were waiting had began to watch me. One specific old man had been watching me for the last two hours or so, I guess wondering why I was still here and what I could possibly be doing. I was starting to lose hope that M was coming at all. His plane had registered "landed" for more than an hour and a half and still no sign of him. I was standing behind a crowd of people and I was too short to see over them, I had to peer between them to see the new arrivals. I began to get panicked thinking that maybe I had missed him completely and he was in another part of the airport looking for me.
Suddenly the doors opened again and a fresh batch of arrivals came walking through. I could see women, then a family and an elderly couple and then a thick batch where I couldn't make out each individual face. I was standing on my tip-toes when I saw him. He'd only been gone for five months, but he had aged years. There were bags under his eyes and his normally strong thin frame was emaciated. He was a little darker and rail thin, but as soon as he saw me his eyes changed to the person I remembered. He grinned the same surprised grin he gave me when I had come to Montreal the first time.
His mouth was open and his eyes turned red. I teared up, but I did not cry. I darted to the outside of the ropes and M came underneath it. He hugged me the way I remembered. He hugged me hard and close. I couldn't believe he was back. For the entire trip I had convinced myself that I might not see him even this time, but here he was, thinner and sadder, but here. He quickly stopped hugging me and grabbed my face and just stared at me. "I really thought I would never see you again," he said, "I didn't think you would come."
We walked out to the car holding onto each other all the way, tightly.