There is something beautiful about airports.
In the gates of every airport around the world, there are whispered “I love yous,” tears that never dry, hands reaching out to those who have flown thousands of miles away. There is an unspeakable pull towards something that may never come; maybe it’s love. Maybe it’s wanderlust. Maybe it’s a sense of self-worth that no amount of money or promotions or empty promises will ever gain.
Airports, with their washed-out white walls and walkways that stretch on forever, have oddly made me feel at home.
I’ve given a blanket to a woman at 4 in the morning after both of our flights were delayed, us occupying the same space with the same fluorescent lights that make you dizzy if you look at them for too long. She thanked me and said that all of her kids are grown, and that I remind her of the daughter she hasn’t seen in months. I shared my goldfish crackers and we sat together in silence.
I’ve laughed with a man who wrote a book 10 years ago, who showed me a picture of his only son (and said that the two of us would make a very cute couple), and who was flying around the world with the woman he loves most in the world, just for the hell of it, because he can. I want that freedom to roam someday.
I’ve gotten a cab ride home from a man who asked me, a 20-year-old college kid whose eyes still burned from the tears of my grandmother’s funeral a few days earlier, to edit the book he’s been working on for years. He called it his baby. I tipped him $15 when the ride was over.
These people probably don’t remember me, and perhaps the trips they were taking have since faded too, only a fuzzy memory that will be refreshed by flipping through photos once or twice a year. But they each left me with something special.
These people let me, a complete stranger, into some of the most intimate parts of their lives, and that sort of benevolence can never truly be repaid. I’m doing my best, though. I smile at people I pass. I hug those close to me and never forget to say ‘I love you,’ even if they’re only going to the grocery store or leaving for work. Most of all, I remember that everyone is fighting silent battles, and that kindness will make you more friends than anything else in the whole world.
Love until you feel like your heart might give out, and even then, keep loving. I promise there will never be enough to go around.
The man who wrote the book 10 years ago told me to never give up on what I want. He told me to always write about what I love.
I write what I know and even what I don’t know—what I hope will soon become a part of me, like a stranger turning into a friend, a whisper into a scream, a singular spark into a burning flame that has the power to change the future. My words bleed out onto the page, unflinchingly honest, just as they’re meant to be. I’ve decided that I don’t want to be anything less than authentic–I owe myself that much.
Be what you need. Be that someone you’d want to talk to at 6 a.m. when you feel like everything’s falling apart around you, when your headaches and your heart does too, and all you want is to crawl under the covers and never come out.
I am learning to unravel the deepest parts of myself, little by little, to see the whole picture. It’s painful at times, but I do what I have to do to take care of myself. And you should, too. Don’t hold back because you’re scared. Your comfort zone is meant to be broken out of.
Look for the small moments that take your breath away. Reach a little bit further beyond your grasp and open yourself up to what comes next. Seek out the extraordinary in the ordinary, and when you find it, you’ll just know–it’s where the magic happens.