All the puzzle pieces clicked into place last week. Late Tuesday, or maybe it was early Wednesday? I got an email. It was a ticket confirmation. Dave was flying home!

After months apart. Months waiting on HR to get him on boarded. Months after the job after. Almost a year after the job search started. And exactly six months to the day of retirement, Dave’s job is really real.

Bright and early Saturday morning, way too bright and early for me, I packed Tess & Dane into the van and watched the sunrise on my drive up to Frankfurt. While I hate getting up early, I love the sun coming up through the clouds. I especially love that light that brightens the sky just before the sun actually appears. Even more? I love it when there’s clouds, or mist, hanging just above the fields, wisps woven through the trees. It’s a magical, otherwordly look and it makes me happy.

Almost as happy as finally holding Dave again. Stop. Not so fast. You didn’t think our reunion would be that easy do you? Nope. Nope. Nope.  Nothing is easy. I should’ve known better. All of last week was too smooth. Visa cleared, check. Plane ticket, check. Flight, check.  Toiny find Dave at the airport…. crickets.

I will admit to this all being my fault. I got cocky. I’ve been in & out of airports my whole life, I know what I’m doing. I didn’t scout out the lay of the land before leaving my neck of the woods. I got to Frankfurt airport easy as pie. But my GPS and the signs said two different things. I followed the signs.

I wound up in parking at arrivals. In theory, a good move. Dave as arriving. But parking at Frankfurt is a loooooooooong straight tunnel. With gate exits going off to the left. There are no signs in the parking tunnel. No “park here for American Airlines”. Just ticket machines and boom barriers. And emptiness. Lots & lots of creepy emptiness.

I finally picked an exit. Drove into a little side arm off that empty tunnel and found about 50 parking spots, half of them empty. I parked at the far end to quickly and easily get in & out of the parking garage. My bad. The exit was actually right next to the boom barrier I passed through at the entrance.

The kids & I quickly walked the length of our little parking sub-section, and I memorized my spot “Red 33”. In the little hallway between the tunnel and our parking sub-section, we hopped an elevator to flight arrivals. We came out in a long hallway, matching the long tunnel below, but this time for walkers. Also empty. Also creepy. Also with lots of exits going off to the right.

We walked down to an exit on our the left, walked up a little ramp, and into the bustling crowd of the Frankfurt airport. Tess memorized our surroundings. We were using turns using our brains. We quickly discoverd this is where the plane folks diverged to trains, buses or cars. We swam upstream looking for where the planes actually disembarked  passengers. Looking for Dave.

We soon, but after at least a kilometer of walking, found the gates. No Dave. Almost no people. All the flights coming in were Lufthansa. We walked another kilometer looking for American Airlines planes. No luck but my Pokémon Go buddy, Wailmer, found 2 more candies.

We hit a deadend, returned to the first arrival gate and went up the escalator to the main floor of the Frankfurt airport. There was no map to be found. No information booth to be found.We finally spotted a free person, sitting behind a counter, and asked where American Airlines was arriving. At Terminal 2, we were in Terminal 1, up the stairs, to the right on the skyline. Follow the signs.

We kept walking. We couldn’t find signs. Not to skyline. Not to Terminal 2. Not to American Airlines. We finally we found a map booklet, randomly attached to a pole in the airport. Without a map. The second booklet did have a map. But Terminal 2 was stuck on the back page, with no clear mapping off where it was in relation to Terminal 1. We did discover the emblem for Skyline, but not where one would board Skyline.

We wandered the halls of Frankfurt again, my Pokémon Go buddy collecting more candy. Finally, exhausted, frustrated, we asked another lonely person behind a counter. This time we got better directions, and within minutes were heading up stairs towards the Skyline symbol.

In our defense, the Skyline symbol, and the Terminal 2 signs, were small. Really the size of footnotes on the signs above.   Signage in the Frankfurt Airport leaves much to be desired. Also, we are not candidates for the Amazing Race.

Soon we were on the Skyline, heading towards Terminal 2. The Skyline made a stop, but no announcement, and we almost got off. However, since no one else got off we stayed put and arrived at Terminal 2. We practically ran down the 3 level of stairs to the arrivals area. No Dave.

We split up, kids to the meeting spot, me to the pick-up area outside. No Dave. Rinse & repeat. No Dave. Rinse & repeat. No Dave. Finally, I decided to try paging him. I turned to go back in, after my third stroll of the sidewalk outside, when I heard my name. I turned. Dave!

I am so incredibly happy to have him home. And wearing a suit every day! After 32 years in uniform. I could get used to this.