So almost a year after I started this blog, I find myself on the last run through to the season which marked its beginning. Last January Christmas was done for another year and I was driving brothers to airports so they could return home to their New Years. David Bowie was still alive, the UK referendum had not taken place and neither had the US elections.
Today the cycle started again as I headed out to the international airport to pick up one brother who was flying in from Thailand. I shouldn’t call it the international airport anymore, but old habits die hard. The roads around the two airports have been completely re-structured and at some point in the process, their names changed from ‘domestic’ and ‘international’ to T3and T4 and T1 and T2 respectively.
This confused the hell out of me because I never had any idea which terminal was which but thanks to Virgin Airlines who had decided to build a massive terminal of their very own and fly domestic and international flights into the same hut, we lost the helpful names and now just have to remember numbers.
While there have been massive upgrades to the road system, and some great road architecture created, the old international airport itself has not changed too much. It is still basically a long, rectangular building behind which all the airplanes park. The traffic control tower sits in front of it, and you drive towards it as you approach the airport.
One new feature this year, though was a great Xmas tree outside the terminal building. Its thick-waisted trunk and body was hollow, leading to a narrow top and two branches stretched out ecstatically so from a distance its silhouette would look like a giant mad aunt rushing excitedly to pick up a small puppy. The tree’s trunk was hollow and was filled with huge football sized golden, brown and bronze baubles.
I loved this tree. Christmas is always tricky in Perth because the traditional trappings look completely incongruous against the white light and clear blue sky of a Western Australian summer, but Perth Airport, of all places, had managed to blend a native Boab tree with an established festive decoration.
The image of the tree was used again inside the airport on the sliding doors through which people appear like rock stars having made their way through customs and passport control. Next to the tree were the words, ‘the best Xmas present is about to walk through these doors.’ Quite an ambitious statement, but not unreasonable given the time of year – and actually largely true, given the numbers of people being greeting as they flew in for the holidays.
And soon enough, my brother walked through the doors. I had been chatting to him on messenger as he sat on the plane ready to take off seven hours earlier, but it was great to see him back in Perth again. In two days time, brother number two and partner will be arriving through a different set of doors and bringing with him a very special present – my parents’ first grandchild, and like the Christmas Boab on the forecourt outside, I will be the mad aunt stretching out my hands to welcome them.