There’s something enchanting about airports. Long layovers have never been an annoyance to me. They’re never boring, never a hassle. I could happily spend hours walking through the never-ending stream of strangers hurrying towards their various gates with eyes straight ahead in absolute fucking determination to get to their destination. They all look so perfectly robotic in their movements. They’re so predictable, but it doesn’t bother me. Airports are probably the only place where the mindless monotony of humanity doesn’t eat away at me. I love the fleeting connection I feel with each person that catches my eye. What are the chances we would have ever crossed paths if it weren’t for these layovers?
I could fall in love here. I honestly believe that there’s something magical in these walls. People rarely surprise me, but when they do, it usually happens in airports. A strawberry blonde haired woman sat down across from me while I was waiting to board the flight during my last trip to Vegas. She complimented my necklace and asked if I was going on vacation or if I lived in Nevada like she did. She told me all about her daughter who had just moved to San Diego for school. She had the most compassionate eyes I’ve ever seen. After the flight, she caught up with me at baggage claim and asked how I was getting back to my apartment. When I told her I was planning on catching a cab, she absolutely insisted I let her give me a ride even though it was completely out of her way. Her husband picked us up in a shiny, black, pickup truck and greeted me enthusiastically without even a blink despite the fact that I was a complete stranger. I climbed into the back seat and sat next to a few grocery bags and a high-end looking sleeping bag in a stuff sac. They pulled into a nearby Fresh & Easy store before dropping me off. I watched as they brought the groceries and sleeping bag over to this homeless man sitting against the building just around the corner. They explained to me later that they met him when they were out shopping a few months ago. He was just a kid in his early twenties. They had persistently tried to persuade him to come stay with them at their house until he could get a job and find his own place to live, but he refused. So, instead, they consistently brought him food and clothes and supplies like below-zero sleeping bags for nights when it was suppose to be cold. I’ve never met two people with bigger hearts.
A little over four years ago, I sat down next to this girl with bright eyes and a giant backpack. She introduced herself almost immediately and I spent the next few hours completely wrapped up in her. She was on her way back from winning the ski jumping world championships. I mean, how cool is that? She told me that her younger brother, who was ranked 64th, was going to be competing in the upcoming Olympics, but even though she was ranked number one, she wouldn’t be able to compete because women’s ski jumping wasn’t an Olympic sport. I signed a petition before she left to board her flight. Four years later, I got to watch her compete in Sochi.
So, I have a special kind of relationship with airports. I’ve slept on their floors, read a library worth of books in their rows of identical seats, sprinted down their hallways for no better reason than to feel that drag force resistance against my cheeks from moving so fast. I’ve even practiced yoga in their secluded corners. I’ve spent a good portion of my life living in airports. Maybe that’s why these chairs at this terminal in this city almost feel like home.
I’m legitimately excited and hopeful right now, which is a combination I haven’t felt in quite a while. If you’re in Newark, look for me and come say hi. I’m the one half walking, half dancing down the concourse with the Little Machines album blasting through my earbuds, and a small, sappy smile on my face. She does that to me.