I’m sitting in the newly remodeled Terminal C at Logan International Airport. I’m here early and enjoying the anonymity of airport travel, sipping my coffee and occasionally looking up from writing to observe the crowd.
There are the families going on vacation, happily clad in their sandals and shorts, hats on more for affect than for the sun. We are, after all, inside. There are the business men, distracted, hurrying, not even realizing they are pushing others aside. They are the ones on tight schedules with gadgets galore, hoping to get on the earlier flight. There are the kids traveling alone. There’s the college student, wearing a crass grey and white t-shirt with the words “I’m a (insert bad word) genius,” a fact that I seriously doubt. There is the elderly couple, she so cold in her wheel chair, her thin body tense as she’s wheeled to her gate by someone who doesn’t yet know the meaning of aging. Her husband is right behind her, he too unfairly reduced by age. There is a grandmother, laughingly trying to keep up with her granddaughter. She looks at me and smiles, says “I keep on telling her to slow down–Ican’t go so fast!” The old and the young, the world goes on, generation after generation.
There are tattoos and piercings, there are high heels and jeans. There are blacks and whites, there are East Indians and Chinese. It is the great equalizer.
I watch all this and I remember that I’m only seeing the briefest snapshot of their lives. They are not just anonymous travelers; they are beloved fathers, grandfathers, grandmothers, friends, sisters, and lovers. They are at times happy and full of joy, at other times angry, still other times lonely and grieving.
Airports contain so many stories and so many secrets. They keep their secrets well. Right here at Terminal C is a picture of humanity, and all of the shared experiences of human emotion.
I’m reminded of the story I shared in a piece in December called “Our Shared World.” In this article I referenced a beautiful piece that has periodically resurfaced through social media. The piece is called “Gate A-4” written by a Palestinian American woman. I reread it as I sit here, and I smile and realize just why I love to travel.
Because it reminds me that not everything is lost.
Excerpt: She was laughing a lot by then. Telling about her life, patting my knee, answering questions. She had pulled a sack of homemade mamool cookies— little powdered sugar crumbly mounds stuffed with dates and nuts— from her bag and was offering them to all the women at the gate. To my amazement, not a single traveler declined one. It was like a sacrament. The traveler from Argentina, the mom from California, the lovely woman from Laredo— we were all covered with the same powdered sugar. And smiling. There is no better cookie.
Then the airline broke out free apple juice and two little girls from our flight ran around serving it and they were covered with powdered sugar too. And I noticed my new best friend— by now we were holding hands— had a potted plant poking out of her bag, some medicinal thing, with green furry leaves. Such an old country traveling tradition. Always carry a plant. Always stay rooted to somewhere.
And I looked around that gate of late and weary ones and thought, This is the world I want to live in. The shared world. Not a single person in that gate— once the crying of confusion stopped— seemed apprehensive about any other person. They took the cookies. I wanted to hug all those other women too.
This can still happen anywhere. Not everything is lost.