When I was a child, one of my grandmothers lived in San Diego, only a few miles away from our house, while my other grandmother lived near San Francisco, five hundred miles to the north. Many of those years she flew south to visit with us at Christmas, and we would drive to the airport to meet her as she got off the plane. I still remember, and feel, the old excitement of seeing her appear at the door of the plane, then quivering with pleasure as we watched her coming down the mobile steps which had been pushed up against the airliner. I struggle in my mind to think of the right word to name that moveable staircase – not ramp, not ladder, maybe gangway… but… but oh, the joy when she reached the ground and started walking across the cement field toward us.
Sometimes I would be allowed to slip through the fence gate and run across the hard ground to greet her with a big hug. Those were the days when “security” was for bank vaults, not airports. Those were also the days when I was little – six or seven – and was allowed, yes, even encouraged, to indulge in such extravagant displays of public emotion.