Thursday, May 7, 2009

The Allure of the Airport

Looking at the sprawling spiderweb that connects the world’s airports, I often imagine myself as a tiny dot on one of those arcing lines, slowly traversing the distance between two larger dots, which incredibly represent entire cities full of tiny dots like me. I dream of spending my life moving from point to point on the map, discovering what makes each of those identical dots different.

The feeling I get when entering the airport is probably comparable to the feeling a beer lover might get if he walked into a bar with all the world’s brews on tap. For an airport is possibility, and possibility is intoxicating. As I walk by the gates I observe where each one is heading. Get on this plane, go to Bali. Get on that one, go to Bogota. Then step out into a new day— one with warmer air, brighter colors, and surrounded by sea of strange tongues. The prospect of so easily exchanging one environment for another is enormously appealing to me; just three hours separate London fog from the Spanish sun.

An airport is a modern-day harbor, constantly buzzing with activity, as travelers arrive and depart, and thousands of bags criscross unseen conveyor belts on their way to a final destination. People from across the world convene at these amazingly intricate nodes, bringing with them their hometown newspapers, fashions, and foods. So many people, so many stories, so many reasons for their fleeting presence in this window to the world.

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