Two big blue eyes stared up at me through a shaggy jumble of bright blonde hair; the rest of the world went quiet. The heat from outside rolled in through the automatic doors as they open and shut to let weary travelers pass through. Elbows and arms jutted through autonomous bodies, grabbing for luggage on the carousel. The loud voices that poured from the speakers and the countless digital screens that filled the room with timetables and charts seemed now to soften and mumble.
Just a few days ago, I was in Afghanistan working in the heat and the dirt. The world seemed simple. Without warning I was transported on a plane back home. Although I felt relieved, I was so out of place standing in the crowded airport on that hot July day, until I saw those blue eyes.
There was no pomp and circumstance around my return. I didn’t come home to a parade in my honor. No one came running to my side to say, “Thank-you for your service.” To the rest of the world, I was a young traveler on a busy holiday weekend, no different from the thousands of others. But to one young child waiting in the bustle of the airport, I was the one who was finally home.
The baby I had left so many months ago was now a walking, talking person. Nothing about him seemed the same, except for that adorable infectious laugh, that mass of blonde hair, and those piercing blue eyes. I spotted him from far away as he toddled through the baggage claim in pursuit of a fallen toy. For a while, I watched him play from afar. There is so much joy in the gait of a child that has not a care in the world.
When his gaze matched mine, he stood still. Cautiously, as if approaching a deer in the woods, I walked forward. I didn’t want to scare him by my movements. I wasn’t sure he knew who I was. But then, his arms reached out for me, and without a word, I picked him up and kissed him on the cheek. We stood there, silent in the terminal, just letting the time and the people pass, both looking into each others’ blue eyes.
Marcee Davis served four years on active duty and seven years as a reservist in the United States Navy. She was deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom during 2004, 2005, and 2007 with Electronic Attack Squadrons 130 and 134. She is a California native, and is currently pursuing her undergraduate degree at the University of California, Santa Barbara, while raising her two young children with partner, fellow Navy veteran turned student, Mario Moreno.