thing happened last week as I traveled to and from Denver and then to and from
Northern Virginia. My fingers began to itch.
the airport concourse made me want to write: all those colorful bags, rushing
late-runners, wide-eyed children and distracted business people.
so much motion in an airport.
I watched the
different gaits, walks, swaggers, and charges of the passersby. I listed as
many adjectives as I could. What was the posture like? What about the pace?
person excited? Like my friend Kevin who felt so proud of himself for
purchasing a book in the bookstore that he strode through the Toronto airport
like a deep-thinking scholar?
person frightened? Like the soldier in Japan who was headed home from the
Philippines to his father whose motorcycle-wreck-coma may have already ended in
Did he cover
ground swiftly in paces that are self-assured and oblivious to surrounding
stagger under the weight of the carry-on, the diaper bag, the baby seat, and
the stroller push?
always written when I travel.
something so irresistibly universal about the experience of airports. We’re
all at the mercy of the elements: weather, airlines, security, geography, one
There are so
many stories in airports: where are you going? Where have you been? Ever had to
wait this long? How many times has your gate changed? How many hours have you
I love the
anonymity of the airport where you are simultaneously one of a million stories
that are all the same and also part of a unique experience unfolding as you
I stepped off
the plane in Honolulu and my phone lit up with text messages. My Nana had died.
I curled up
on the floor under a Delta blanket in Atlanta when we were the last flight
canceled and stranded at the terminal under a heavy snowstorm.
I put back
two extra shots of tequila in Detroit with another South Carolinian I’d
met two hours earlier before racing to the gate bound for Amsterdam.
I watched as
the lady next to me in Philly cleaned up her spilled wine when the iPad
cleverly propped up in front of her fell over and soaked her and all of her
a beautiful artistry to the mechanics of an airport. The design of the
operation: bags and ticketing and planes taking off and landing. There’s
also a clunky human element that makes everyone roll their eyes.
attendant from Dallas to Columbia actually called all of our names off the
printed roster, like the first day of school, to figure out who was on the
over-booked plane that shouldn’t be.
In all of it
I find inspiration. The human condition: emotions, filth, exhaustion, anxiety.
The imperfections of love, family, citizenry, and civility. It’s