"Oh the places you will go"

I love airports. I love planes. I love everything about this atmosphere. People are going somewhere and they are going everywhere because they just can. And no place is out of reach or unthinkable here. And you can fly. I don’t mean the literal action a plane takes, but what it is… being here means I will fly. And the magic takes over again of rising above the clouds and watching the earth below. This is fascinating to me. I never loved science overall, but I LOVED earth science, land formations, continental sciences. I flew to Africa from Europe and we flew over the Alps. And they towered and hosted clouds and met you above the clouds. They were wonderful. And then moments later, really, the unnamable blue of the Mediterranean was below me and it was a gorgeous pond of elusive waters. I fell asleep over it and prayed to be wakened to see the coast of Africa and when I woke next I was. We were over Tripoli. Overwhelming. It took 8 hours to head south across this land mass. But what amazed me most was the Sahara. I was flying over the Sahara and it was a tawny haze until I made out mild definition: sand dunes. And next, the space below was black with forest. Mold blowing to see all of this in a few hours. Watching the land below will never cease to captivate me. I would gorge myself on this. And it happens because I can fly. It’s enchanting.

I love seeing people’s shoes in airports. I look at these. You can tell which one’s are from Europe.

Seinfeld does a whole bit on what people are willing to spend in airports. I just spent $11.43 on a sandwhich, banana and a bottled water. I have quite a layover, but there’s no way I’d step beyond the boundaries of airport security because it’s such a pain to get back in. Frankfurt’s the worst with this. Their airport has what would be comparable to checkpoints… lot’s of points of entry. And just when you think you’ve cleared all the levels you find out you just haven’t. But their benches are comfortable to sleep on because there are no arms. I took one of Lufthansa’s blanket’s once and enjoyed a nap (until I was told my nap was done by a gentleman in airport wear). I still have the blanket.

I love watching the airport staff interact with each other like neighbors. They stop by to chat on the veranda’s of the eateries and admire each other as they’re walking the concourses. But they know each other because they work in the same vicinity. “You work on Concourse C. Me too. We’ll be seeing each other, then.” And they do. I’m sure there’s neighborhood gossip among the airport spokes. There’s probably a lot of inter-business dating.

People watching is always fun. That guy’s pants are really short. Does he know that? Yes, that man clearly was on vacation. He looks like a raccoon… or his tanning didn’t go very well. She must be tired of her children lagging behind but, oh, what cute luggage they have. Is that a man or a woman? I didn’t realize NASCAR made such apparel. But they have it in men’s and women’s clearly because that couple are wearing it all. That woman’s hair is quite large and she’s wearing a very faux leopard print jacket. Those two must be in their 70’s and they’re holding hands and I love that. Oh, that girl definitely missed her flight. That sucks. (that happened to me this morning. My schedule’s 5 hours off now. I’ll make it to my speaking engagement moments before I’m introduced)

I love the international climate of airports. I love being where polyglotinous conglomerates abound (those words together are probably a bit much. My apologies).

I don’t understand how women prefer to travel in 3” heels. That never seems like a good idea when walking long distances through the world’s large airports.

I love the bookstores. I will pay a lot of money for books in these just because, well, these particular shops are so inviting. And they really do have the most eclectic selection.

The people movers are fun. I have a friend that is looking forward to taking his children on these for entertainment, when they are old enough, when they have children.

I love the bathrooms. The stalls have floor to ceiling doors and this is very good. I have often found refuge in these. They are the most private place in an airport and though I really do love airports, I am still an introvert and need some space… not a lot… just not shared. The bathroom stalls do this for me. I’ve napped in them seated on my backpacks with my head against the door. No one is going to interrupt your solitude here. This is true.

Stories. Thousands of stories pass through these establishments daily. Stories of greatness, stories of victims, people going home to unexpected funerals and difficult families, people heading home to their spouses, people heading off to their affairs, people insecure, people unaware, people waiting to begin, people waiting to end. This is just a gallery and we are just performance art.

I walked off of the jetway and had my iPod on. Imogen Heap’s “Hide and Seek” was my soundtrack. Now it’s “Homeward Bound” – Appalachian folk song. I’ll end with Death Cab For Cutie’s “Soul Meets Body” streaming through my ears. The best line… “there are roads left in both of our shoes” and I’m off to follow mine.


kate said...

jenn - great piece of writing. i was going to put an exclamation point at the end of that sentence to show my excitement at your writing, but instead decided to punctuate with a period, because i take a difinitive stance on the greatness of said writing. it was cool to follow your train of thought. and yes, i am aware that you still have that blanket. :-) i also definitely look at people's shoes to see if they are european, because "euro shoes" are just friggin cool. i bought a pair once in croatia in hopes that i might be that cool, but when i checked it out, they were in fact made in the usa. which is funny, because if i tried while in the usa, i would have a hard time finding shoes made here. i leave you with my own ipod moment, in the words of u2, "walk on".

pk said...

Thanks for giving us that stellar experience.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I haven't read your whole blog but mean to. I just thought of a great airport song by a New Zealand band The Muttonbirds called Ngaire which mentions all the new shoes he's seen today. Airplane dunnies (really oz slang for toilets) are also a great place to get way from it all.

Anonymous said...

That's beautiful Jenn.

Anonymous said...

Did you know the Q-C Airport is in the running for having the nation's cleanset public restrooms? I for one have never had the pleasure :) of being in them. Wherever you are and whatever you are speaking on, I am praying for you. Whether speaking or singing, you always do a fantastic job!

Holly said...

Hey Jen!
I love airports too! Just got back from one Tues. Guess who I almost ran into on my way out of the bathroom? Martin Sheen!!!! No kidding. My first celebrity sighting. I could smell his breath! Crazy.....

Jess said...

Jenn, speaking of ipods, I still need someone like you, who is saavy in the music area to introduce me to some new tunes. It would enhance my life, I'm sure :).

PS: I love airports too! Is it weird that when I walk into one, there's an air of familiarity that is simply refreshing?

keith said...

I thought you were scared of aiplanes? That must have passed in the last few years? When did that happen?