As I sit here at the airport, next to an electrical outlet in gate A9, waiting for my flight to Washington D.C., I realized how much I love airports. There was always something about them that got me so excited. Any time someone would say “airport”, my mind would flash images of me with my mother, luggage in hand, walking across the vast San Francisco International Airport. I could feel the wheels of my carry on baggage smoothly gliding across the linoleum floor, as I pulled it along with me. I could hear the quiet hum of voices and the sporadic announcements made by a woman’s monotone voice, notifying passengers on Flight 268, en route to Bangkok, to report to gate B14. I could see people frantically gathering their belongings after passing through the security checkpoint, afraid to hold up the line behind them.
Perhaps it was the thought of traveling somewhere that got me so excited. More specifically, perhaps it was the thought of visiting a completely new place, away from my mundane life at home, that made my heart race. Perhaps it was the atmosphere of the airport, all kinds of people leaving their homes behind for a certain amount of time, to a certain place, for a certain reason, that made me curious. Whatever it was, I’ve always loved airports.
For me, the airport was an escape. Don’t get me wrong, I loved my life at home, but there was always something exhilarating about leaving what you knew behind and discovering something new. It was a change in scenery, if you will. For me, the airport was a location of transition, foreshadowing a change in my life, whether it was a short couple of days, or my whole summer. I liked that I would be immersed in a completely different setting than what I was used to, and would be experiencing things I hadn’t before. Even though the change in setting and new experiences wouldn’t occur until I got to my destination, being at the airport, waiting for it to happen, was a big enough thrill for me.
Airports are also a place of emotion. To be honest, I enjoy people watching at the airport to pass the time. I see joyful reunions, of college students coming back for the first time in months to their parents, of husbands returning to wives, and of in laws meeting the family for the first time. I see tearful separations, of wives bidding farewell to their armed force husbands, of siblings leaving to start their own families, and of overprotective parents once again saying goodbye to their children leaving for school. I’ve oftentimes heard that airports hold the sincerest emotions, a statement I completely agree with. When someone leaves, the feeling of separation garners the truest of emotions.
Airports are full of life. They harbor inspiration and interest for young people hungry to discover what else the world has to offer, as well as love and graciousness for individuals that learn to appreciate the presence of important figures in their lives. The next time you go to an airport, be sure to take it all in, because there is so much you can feel and learn from just being there, en route to your next destination.