On Dec. 18 at 7 p.m., after three months of newness– new country, new house, new roommates, new school, new cultural references, new way of ordering my Starbucks drink, new grocery store, new church, new post office and stamps– I happily stepped from the airplane walkway, connecting flight CO something to Gate something into the San Antonio International Airport. For once, everything did not feel new and instead, in the best senses of the words, felt old and familiar: the terminal, the shops, the restaurants, the Quiznos and Starbucks, the cowboy hats adorning the Texas souvenir store, and of course the four excited and bouncy people waiting for me past the security area with neon signs in hand which read Englishy things like “Cheers! You’re CheeriHOME!” That was the best and most FAMiliar (get it??) part.
Mom: Running toward me, first and loudest, arms ready for the kind of hug only a mom can give her daughter recently released into all things unfamiliar
Jenna: older sister, the shortest, yet mightiest, of the family, humbly holding her clever “Cheers…” sign and smiling
Sara: younger sister, dressed as fashionable as a brit and making sure her equally great yet a little less clever coming-home sign is read in full
Dad: dropped a couple of inches behind the rest but offering the kind of tear-inducing hug only a dad can give his daughter
Family is familiarity (I’m sure there’s a derivative there), and even if we had never made it from the airport to our house, which brings with it its own set of familiar smells, like mom’s coffee in the morning, sights, like the view from our back porch of the valley undergoing eternal construction, and physical feelings, like the carpet beneath my bare feet, I felt home right there beside Baggage Claim because it’s the people I care about; the rest is just scenery.*
*I know I’ve heard “the rest is just scenery” somewhere before, and since what I’ve mostly learned in grad. school so far is to give credit where credit’s due, I will inform you when I remember who first told me this or where I first read it.