It was empty.
I sigh as I reach Gate 25. The quiet is welcome after navigating my cleaning trolley through the chaos of departure gates 14 to 21 on the east side of Terminal 2.
Irritated passengers, whose flights have been delayed, litter the polished white floor with makeshift beds of jackets, jumpers and travel pillows. But here, on the west side, there’s a stillness.
The pop-up coffee cart has been locked up and half-filled water bottles and empty coffee cups lay scattered, used and unwanted. I pick them up and throw them in the open bin liner attached to my trolley.
The floor to ceiling windows are black with night. I ignore my reflection as I make my way to the cleaner’s cupboard. I don’t need to be reminded that I didn’t stick to my new year’s resolution to lose the weight I gained or that I'm still cleaning public toilets for a living.
After locking up my trolley, I go on my break and head to my favourite part of the airport—arrivals. I sit on a row of chairs under the oversized Arrivals board and scan the list of exotic destinations I can’t pronounce and will never get to visit.
If money was no object, I would spend my life chasing spring and summer. I’d fly from one hemisphere to the other, spending six months in each so I wouldn’t have to wear winter coats or boots again.
Travellers pour through the opening doors, dragging suitcases, navigating trolleys, and clinging to their small children.
There’s a squeal. A woman in her fifties throws her arms in the air and wraps them around a tall guy in his mid-twenties. He beams as she sobs into his shoulder.
A cheer explodes to my right as two families lay eyes on an elderly couple that they gently embrace.
Two lovers race to each other and kiss deeply.
It is here, in this place of transit, I’m reminded love is real. It’s comforting to think that all around the world, in every airport, there’s a young boy with a handmade sign anxiously waiting to see his dad, a husband desperate to see his wife, and a mother longing to have all her children home at the same time again.
Here, in this wonderland of reconnection, I see magic at work, and it is glorious.
I check my phone for the time. I’ve still got five minutes left to witness a little more beauty. Five more minutes to witness the best parts of being human.
© Michelle Upton