Was I nervous? What do you think?
I got up at five thirty, after eventually falling asleep about two hours earlier, got dressed, did a few last minute checks to see the flat looked as perfect as possible and drove off to meet my future wife and daughter at Bristol airport.
Of course I was nervous.
The morning traffic meant it was to be a leisurely journey and I wasn’t in any rush, so I cranked up the stereo and enjoyed the dawning of the first day of the rest of my life as I drove into the sunrise, singing along at the top of my voice.
I stopped for a coffee and a cigarette when I got within ten minutes of the airport, feeling excitement begin to finally chase away the nerves and suddenly I was in a rush. Very much so.
Arriving in the hideously overpriced car park at the exact time Her plane should have landed (I had at least learnt that much from Her last visit) I unsuccessfully attempted to stroll nonchalantly into the arrivals hall whilst my stomach played host to a gigantic swarm of epileptic butterflies.
The display board did indeed confirm that Her flight had just that minute touched down, but from previous experience I knew it’d be a while before they made it through customs and I made for the hideously overpriced coffee bar and the thankfully free smoking shelter.
Even then I couldn’t feign casualness, speed-smoking and gulping my (admittedly pretty good) coffee as I peered in through the window until I could stand it no longer and had to go and lean on the security barrier by the sliding doors, hoping each time they opened that it would be Her I saw on the other side.
And then there they were, trying to control two uncooperative baggage trollies, Her daughter completely hidden behind the piled suitcases and carry on bags that constituted their worldly possessions for the foreseeable future.
I watched Her search for me, saw that radiant smile light up Her face as our eyes eventually met and savored those very last few seconds of waiting, knowing that I wouldn’t be having to say goodbye to Her this time and wanting to etch every last detail of this moment into my memory.
Then they were through the security barrier and, after crouching to finally greet the shyly grinning little girl that I’d chatted and laughed with on Skype so many times, I stood and took Her in my arms once more.
Cramming all the luggage into my borrowed car, we set off for Home. Just the thought of that word gave me a huge rush of happiness and contentment, it had a finality to it that we’d waited so long for and now we were together, nothing else seemed to matter.
We chatted for a while, until the long night flight across the timezones caught up with them and they both slept for the rest of the journey.
I woke Her as we drove up the road towards our house, left most of the bags in the car and welcomed them into their new home.
I’d carefully prepared the first view they would get as they walked into the living room, the dining table held housewarming presents for all.
Flowers and a bottle of wine. Check.
Fairy-winged Barbie doll. Check.
Front door key on Mickey Mouse keyring. Check.
Then, exactly what I’d hoped for;
“I want to see my room!”
Little Missy was off, trying doors in turn (not that there are many to choose from) and rewarding me with appropriate noises of delight on discovering the fantasy-themed posters, dragon ornaments and lighted castle in her bedroom.
I was equally pleased at Her reaction to our family’s new living arrangements, watching cautiously as She took in the room layout and my taste in decor and feeling a happy thrill of relief as I realised She liked it.
They also both loved that we had a garden, complete with fairy lights in the trees and coloured LED spots in the decking and Missy was already planning the enchanted fairy garden she would plant here,
The rest of the day was spent unpacking, juggling space and belongings to make the most of our minimal storage and taking a brief trip to the local supermarket to pick up a few treats and snacks.
I cannot begin to describe how it felt to wake up with Her lying next to me in
my our bed, sharing our morning routine, deciding what we would all do for the day, just being together with them and revelling in the surreal, dreamlike feel of the whole situation.
They were finally, actually, really here and the fact filled me with such joy that I had to keep telling myself it honestly was real and they really weren’t going anywhere, because none of it seemed real yet.
The way the three of us fell almost instantly into a natural rhythm with each other made me impossibly happy.
We were a family. As if it had always been.