Return of the Matt

Matt was away for six weeks but he finally came back. I decided to surprise him by going to the airport to wait for him. Pudong airport is about 35km from central Shanghai, so probably 45km from our house, and it takes 2 hours on the metro. As I set my alarm for 5am, I did contemplate not going… but dragged my sorry arse out of bed and onto the metro.

I arrived at Pudong at 7.30am, and headed to the arrivals hall. Matt’s flight was due to land at 7.50, but I was suddenly really unsure about what that meant – the wheels touching down? the doors opening at the gate? the passengers coming out at arrivals? I wriggled my way into a prime position at the front of arrivals and waited.

It became clear that passengers were coming out of arrivals up to an hour after the posted arrival time (I was peering at the luggage tags on people’s bags, to try to match them up to earlier flights). Finally the British Airways cabin crew came out, unmistakably British (sadly more Lad Bible than top hat and tails).

Now the wait was really on. There was a TV screen above me showing the doorway just after the final security check, and about 15 seconds later, the images on the screen turned into real life people walking out in front of me. I looked between the two, frantically. What would Matt be wearing? What if he came out in a little crowd and I missed him? Should I keep an eye out for his bag, which should be easy to spot as it’s the one I’ve taken around the world?

In the end, it was easy. A blond head came walking down the corridor, first just the top of his head visible and then the checked shirt and orange rucksack. Matt.

I waved and he looked over, nodded and came over for a hug. He told me he’d wondered if I would come but knew it was early so thought it would be too much to expect. He didn’t want to look around too eagerly in case I wasn’t there.

We retraced my footsteps all the way back home and then Matt had a 5 hour nap – a terrible idea as then he was awake all the next night. What a treat to have him home.

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