Pathway #1: Hellos

by pvakil91

I love airports.
I love the smell of cafés and freshly baked/heated pastries.
The sound of trolley and luggage wheels being pulled across the floor could easily lull me to sleep.
Most airports I’ve seen -been lucky to have been in- have an energy unlike anything else. There’s the influx of passengers through the airport doors, where you can still hear cars and loud chatter of ‘see you laters’ and ‘text me when you get through’. There’s the buzz and dings of airport personnel lifting bags, checking people in while the overhead speakers recite their warnings in many languages.
Then there are the passengers, having arrived at their temporary destination (every destination is temporary), leaving this beautiful chaos.

I love airports because there are so many different people. There are languages being spoken that I’ve never heard and there are so many goodbyes and so many hellos.

The things I love about airports hit all my pleasure centers, just at the mention of the word “airport.” I get really happy. Even knowing that I get to go pick up someone from the airport makes that pleasure pathway light up like the Eiffel Tower at night. The hellos are beautiful. It’s actually one of the biggest things I take for granted when I travel. I don’t take the time to appreciate a hello. It’s usually a quick-long hug with a lets-leave-the-airport-and-do-the-travel-stuff!

But when it comes to goodbyes, I mull over those for a while. It’s like I go through a mini-grieving where I prep myself with the knowledge that a change is about to happen, where someone I care about is going to be leaving, and then I work out the anxiety and finally come to terms with it when the moment approaches. But right after, my mind still dwells on it. In fact, I just said my umpteenth goodbye/see you later to my sister. And I’m writing about it.

Hellos are just as anxiety inducing as goodbyes. Or at least I think they are. They definitely have different dimensions to them and it always depends whether you’re the one visiting or the one hosting. Goodbyes are also a great reminder of hellos. The anticipation of finally meeting someone after years, friends or family is extremely rewarding. That hello is mixed with tears and hugs and kisses and so much joy that not many words can convey.

*Pleasure centers say what? Ding ding ding!*

While the anticipation of never having met someone can breed a hesitated hello, it also makes us aware of how brave we are.

Maybe hellos don’t get all the credit because they’re usually a positive feeling. Our brains tend to remember and recollect more negatively oriented things to protect us. Maybe it makes sense why more people dwell on goodbyes – or at least why I do.

I can say hello in a couple of languages but I think my favorite greeting so far has to be how Spaniards say hello. It’s also the way you say goodbye: a kiss on each cheek. It’s a little bit more intimate than a hug and usually accompanied with a ” ‘Ta luego” (hasta luego/see you later). Even though you learn “adios” in Spanish, you rarely ever use it. This greeting to me is more time consuming and personal – even when you meet someone for the first time. For someone who has lived in the US for a decade and used to personal space, where hellos are usually communicated verbally or formally with a handshake, it breaks those boundaries.

Hellos deserve just as much of attention as goodbyes. I think it’s taken for granted because most hellos are easy. They’re safe and they’re usually good experiences. But maybe if the pathways of Hellos are strengthened, you’ll look forward to them.

In the end it doesn’t matter whether you’re good at goodbyes; because you’ll always be great at hellos.