The Airport

Last Saturday I flew to Albuquerque, New Mexico for a work conference. It’s been a while since I’ve flown, so as I walked the terminals I started thinking again about how much I love airports. When I travel I just go with the cheapest flight I can find, so I’ve been to a lot of airports in the U.S. This type A librarian loves a list, so here are my Top Ten most awesome things about airports:

10. Moving walkways. Rest for my weary soles. Also, you will almost always see a child who walks the wrong way on a moving walkway. It looks like fun, but I’m too proper to do anything like this so I watch and live vicariously.

9. Hudson News. Snacks! Pain meds! Magazines galore! I usually try to read several magazines all the way through while standing inconspicuously in the back corner. I have this thing for shiny magazines, especially People and Entertainment Weekly. I never buy them, can’t justify the expense. So I devour them at airports.

8. Food courts. There was a time long ago when they served hot meals with a knife and fork on airplanes. Now you have to bring on your own food, but luckily most airports have restaurants featuring regional fare (shout out to the Charlotte airport for the awesome barbeque joint). Or you can just hit up the McDonald’s. Yum. You’re usually so hungry and thirsty that you just go for it, no holds barred.

7. Carry-on luggage watching. I think it’s fun to see the bags people try to bring on a plane. I like to guess whether they will get away with it. A happy side effect: feeling good about myself and my own modest carry-on.

6. Airplane watching. I know there’s a scientific explanation, but it still seems like magic to me that a giant, man-made machine can fly so gracefully into the air. Wow. I love watching them take off and land out of all those big, beautiful airport windows.

5. People watching. Airports bring together so many different types of people. The clothes, the hair, the accents- it’s entertaining to observe this rich cross section of human life. You see a lot of different kinds of relationships, different parenting models. My husband and I always see something to have a psychological discussion about!

4. The buzz of excitement.Travelers are going on vacation, going home, going to school… People are talking energetically and are generally happy- those who aren’t utterly exhausted, that is.

3. Meeting cool strangers. Sometimes someone asks, “Where you headed?” and you meet a really cool musician, businessperson, or student. Or you might see someone wearing your college sweatshirt or a t-shirt featuring the band or movie you love and you strike up a conversation. These chance encounters can lead to opportunities- to teach and learn, to encourage and be encouraged.

2. Farewells. Usually pretty mundane, but there are those occasional moments when great human emotion is so evident in those final hugs, kisses, looks, and words.

1. Greetings.  I miss the days when loved ones could come all the way down to the gate and you could see those faces right as you stepped out of the jetway. Now, the anticipation builds as you walk to the security exit. You find that familiar face, speed up the pace a bit, and get to the big moment: hugs, laughter, fast talking, maybe a few tears. In this day and age it is rare for someone to take the time to park and come in to the terminal, so when it happens you just feel loved.

I’ll never forget one homecoming- it was right after my fiance had broken our engagement six weeks before the wedding. As I came around the corner and exited the security area, I saw my family there with signs, balloons, and flowers. They knew I needed that little extra boost! Best airport moment ever! And I see those kinds of things happening all around me when I go to an airport.

ps. Favorite airports- Charlotte, Philadelphia, and Portland, OR (’cause it’s home!)

 

 

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