Stealing Glimpses

fathersonI spent an hour in an airport the other day.  I quickly lost interest in my phone, so I did the old fashioned thing — I people watched.

There was the usual hodgepodge of folks – young lovers saying goodbye, grandparents greeting the youngest additions to the family, anxious travelers staring at the departures/arrivals boards.  But my eyes were drawn to a young man.

He was with two ladies and a young boy.  I tried to piece together the puzzle.  I quickly surmised that the ladies were probably mother and daughter.  The boy was about five. How did he fit into the mix?  The young man was staying behind and he was saying goodbye to the other three.

I watched the young man say goodbye to the ladies – perfunctory hugs.  But with the little boy, he got down on the ground and took off his baseball hat.  He hugged the boy tight and looked directly into his eyes and smiled broadly at him.  He tousled the boy’s hair and then turned to leave.  At that moment, I saw a very vulnerable young man.

His face flushed and a wave of emotion passed over him.  He paused for a moment and stared off into space.  Something brought him back to reality and he quickly composed himself.  He put his hat back on his head.  He adjusted his hoodie.  He strutted out of the airport.  But I knew.  I knew he wasn’t the tough guy that he wanted everyone to believe that he was … he was a young man who just said goodbye to his younger brother or to his son – and despite his swagger and his clothes, Mr. Tough Guy was feeling pretty vulnerable at that moment.

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7 Responses to Stealing Glimpses

  1. Julie says:

    Wow. This leaves me wondering who the young man was in relation to the boy. Where was the little boy going? And for how long? Very provocative!

  2. Dana Murphy says:

    Love this Slice. What a great example of a small moment, a tiny Slice of your day.. but a very powerful one. Thanks to your exquisite writing, I could totally envision this moment, too. It’s like you saw a raw moment of human nature. And now I did too. Very enjoyable read.

  3. raeily says:

    This is such a great slice! Truly a slice, a tiny moment of your day.
    People watching. I’m relatively new to the whole “smart phone” thing. So I love to people watch. I love how you described what you saw and it makes me want to know the story behind the young man and the boy.

    Thank you for sharing!

  4. elsie says:

    Observing reveals or sparks imaginative thoughts. I loved your descriptions, the movements through these few minutes that revealed so much to an observer, but so much hidden to the casual passer-by.

  5. That’s an amazing observation. You captured a precious moment quite nicely here.

  6. Liz says:

    Beautifully written. I truly felt this young man’s pain in saying “goodbye” for however long it will be.

  7. What a great observational slice. It’s amazing how much we can notice when we pay close attention (i.e., get our noses out of our smartphones!).

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