Love Actually is one of my all-time favourite movies. It's the one that made me fall for Hugh Grant. It's the one that -- even though I've seen it almost 50 times in three years -- never fails to make me cry.
From the opening scene even.
Cue the lobby at Heathrow Airport. People are hugging, smiling, and laughing.
And Hugh Grant's voice:
Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion's starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don't see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often it's not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it's always there - fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge - they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I've got a sneaking suspision love actually is all around.
Then they switch to some doddering old wanker covering his own song, Love is all around, for Christmas. (Little did I know that song was also featured in Grant's Four Weddings and a Funeral, which I saw for the first time only last weekend but ... SIDEBAR!)
Anyhow ... I've been in a few airports in my day. In terms of frequency, I've probably seen the inside of Halifax International the most, then Vancouver, Kamloops, maybe Calgary.
Only once have I ever had someone greet at the airport with a hug. It was 1996 and my father had just died. His funeral was on a Saturday and my flight to Vancouver left that Monday.
I was living in Newfoundland then and my mother had given me the Christmas present of a plane ticket to Vancouver to visit my then boyfriend, to whom we shall refer as Dopehead (seriously ... I know ... I pick the winners ... I do).
I hadn't seen Dopehead in five months. I wondered if the sparks would still fly.
I don't remember very well that day 12 years ago but I know he couldn't pick me up at the airport without the boys with him, his posse, his crew ...
I'm pretty sure I got a hug and a kiss but it really was nothing remarkable.
Since then, my airport experiences have been relegated to hauling my luggage off the carousel and out to the parkade where the boyfriend du jour was patiently waiting and avoiding the dreaded $10 parking fee. Given the year of Dopehead or Useless, they probably burned more gas circling the airport than it would have cost to park.
Oh and the lovely thing about Dopehead? He would have been driving my car and burning my gas anyway ...
Other airport experiences include snarling in the general direction of happy people, whilst I attempted to manage luggage, purse, wallet and cellphone on the way to the car rental desk ... where I would sign over several hundred dollars before a two-hour drive to my final destination, my home town.
There have been times when family members have picked me up at the airport ... probably my eldest brother, to the best of my memory.
But never once have I had that moment of sheer joy ... that 'Oh my God, it's so good to see you!'
And every time I watch that scene in Love Actually, I feel like I'm missing out on something ... like there's a moment waiting for me, if I could just find the right person to share it with.
Will I ever be the Natalie-type who leaps into Hugh Grant's arms and wraps her legs his waist? (Friggin' happy rights I would be if it was Hugh Grant waiting for me, dammit ...)
Probably not. But it sure would be nice to have the opportunity.