This afternoon I will find myself, yet again, at an airport. As I browse in the airport bookstore, looking for that specific plane ride book that is neither too serious nor too trite and has just the right number of pages, I will think, as I have thought hundreds of times before, that I am a fortunate woman.
Being able to travel is one of life’s greatest gifts It simultaneously keeps one humbled and fully alive. And for me the gift and magic begin at the airport. Despite body scans (and sometimes stripping down to way less than I am comfortable wearing) to get through security the airport is a place where I don’t have to try. It’s where I can be fully comfortable “between worlds”. I sit and people watch without seeming intrusive, I grab that cinnamon roll that I would never be seen eating on a regular basis, best of all I dream of the future and recall past memories of places and people who are no longer a daily part of my life but hold significant value in my mind and existence.
Alain de Botton, a Swiss writer was hired by Heathrow Airport to spend a week at the airport and write about what he saw and experienced. The result: “A Week at the Airport” a thin book complete with humor and insight. I can think of many friends of mine as well as myself who have spent significant hours of our lives in airports – waiting for planes, trying to figure out a missed connection, stuck for hours from a cancelled flight, running to catch a plane, sprawled out on the floor of Heathrow trying to get some sleep and making friends with the many immigrants willing to work long hours for low pay to try to make it in their adopted country – and it begs the question: Why not us? Why did WE not think of asking for this assignment and writing this book?
But I am content that his is a job well-done and agree with the author’s words that “airports are the cultural centers of the modern world”. “They express all the things that make the modern world so strange and horrifying and beautiful and exciting. They’re all about interconnection. They’re about technology. They’re about our loss of contact with nature; they’re about consumerism and our dreams of travel. All of this comes to life at the airport.”
For those of us who live “between worlds” and who are most at home in the airport – this is perhaps “our” book!
- Giddy to live for a week at the airport (cnn.com)
- Pauline Frommer: This book is a must-read for travellers (thestar.com)
6 thoughts on “Airport Musings – Part 1”
I love that quote! “They express all the things that make the modern world so strange and horrifying and beautiful and exciting.” It perfectly explains how I feel when I’m in an airport!
It’s funny – as I held my hands over my head in the body scan I thought “it’s a good think I posted prior to coming!” But here I sit feeling exactly as I knew I would: Lost between worlds! Thanks so much for reading.
Thanks, Marilyn, for putting my thoughts and feelings into such clear words, and thanks for the link to the NPR interview.