Homecoming

I was thankful to snap this picture in the waiting area at the airport. There were two groups of people I had been watching and the urge to photograph was strong.

I had had my eye on the ladies first. They were not identical twins but they had matching hair styles, curly and auburn (you know you’re from Alabama when you automatically capitalize the word “auburn”) and matching jackets.

The one in the black slacks was worried that they weren’t in the right place. She kept asking her sister, friend, if they were and what if they weren’t. The one in the purple would say that they were. I piped up that this was the only place in the entire airport that one could meet people getting off a flight. They were waiting on someone from the same flight I was. Her face was heavily powdered and her eyeshadow was green.

But even after this, the worrying continued. You can see it in the way they are standing. The sanguine one at the front, hands folded in front; the anxious one peering over her shoulder, one hand gripping her bag.

Where were they from, I wondered, if they had reached this age and and didn’t understand the simplicity of our airport? And why were they dressed so similarly and who were they meeting? My hands itched to take their picture. I shaped the question I might ask and considered my motives in wanting to photograph them.

The crew with signs started to assemble. The first few people off the plane joked to those meeting them that they had not brought a sign. Of the welcome party there are two signs, one waving flag, one camera to catch the face of the returning soldier. This is the day before Thanksgiving.

The ladies see that people are starting to deplane and they go to stand at the foot of the stairs, placing themselves in front of the lady with the camera. This was the first picture I took. The camera lady is already in motion, going ahead of them. They are not her intended subject.

The soldier’s face puffs up into tears as the family crowds around her. The woman with the camera, her mother probably, groups them together for a photo, which is when I step in, and offer to take the picture. With her camera. Then my mother appears. I didn’t get to see who the twins were meeting.

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