I’ve recently experienced a wonderful, challenging, bittersweet year abroad. Upon our return, my family and I disembarked at two separate airports. I am not here to tell you of my adventures at either of my destinations but to instead address the loud, bustling experience of airports and question the lives of the travelers there.
I sat with a pen in my hand and my journal open on my lap, the lined pages blank. I wanted to write something imaginative, thoughtful, creative, and yet nothing was coming to mind. “I can’t think with all this noise!” I thought angrily to myself. In calming my small amount of rage I tried to think with an open mind. It dawned on me that the life of every single person surrounding me was, in fact, fascinating enough to fill an entire book. So, I decided to attempt simple observation. Allow my eyes to linger, my ears to listen. Because the commotion all around me was perfectly entertaining and interesting if I allowed myself to see it so.
My eyes carried left, where an elderly woman in a floral blouse sat slouched and solemn as she also observed the goers-by. She had jazz shoes on which were propped up upon a black leather suitcase. Position and a grim expression suggested she had been sitting for quite some time and still had to wait for many more minutes to pass before she had any reason to move on.
Curious, my mind buzzed with questions. Does she travel alone? If so, why? Is she making a return journey or leaving for an adventure? Why has her trip taken place at all? Does someone miss and await her in a warm distant country? Does her saddened expression only exist because of loneliness and weariness or is it something more?
As strange as it sounds, I had an urging to make my way from person to person and question them. Not in a creepy way but simply out of curiosity. Every single human had come from somewhere and was going someplace else. And each with a different cause. I wanted to know peoples stories, have my questions answered. Luckily for them, I am no sort of extrovert and would rather find content with no answers if receiving them meant talking to a total stranger.
Across the way sat a couple dressed in black. Perhaps they weren’t a couple at all but siblings, for they both maintained a head of golden locks. As opposed to the woman in the floral top, they seemed to be embracing their airport adventures with excitement instead of sorrow. Perhaps the first thrilling stages of an opportunity filled journey was forthcoming. Or instead (excluding the possibility of sibling relation), was a honeymoon at hand? Did they travel to live abroad or simply go on vacation?
Behind me, Swedish conversation took place. Two rows ahead the air was filled with heavy French accents. Overhead, the voice of a young air hostess could be heard announcing plane departures. “Last boarding call for the 8:15 flight to France!” Yes, the place certainly was loud but how very stimulating!
A young man and woman sat near one another in the opposite aisle making occasional conversation. Though they both seemed at ease as they conversed I couldn’t help but wonder whether they spoke pleasantly simply to pass terminal time or if they were travel companions. Was a seed being planted that could blossom into a lifelong relationship? The possibility that I was witnessing the union of a pair placed a smile on my face.
From my position in the terminal, I could admire the joyful squeals as loved ones reunited. Families exchanging tender embrace as they become whole again. Far off, a bittersweet farewell as a youngin departed to experience the world and the aged parents remained to linger on.
I discovered in my boredom that the airport is one of the few places in the world where the interaction between different nationalities is constantly taking place, thus making any airport experience interesting if you have the time to observe your surroundings. Allow them to, and questions will buzz your brain unceasingly. One appears from an obvious observation which leads to another and another. Has that person come here simply on a whim with a desire to see the world or with a purpose? Does that purpose involve a career path, a union, danger or fun? Or somehow, both? Every human life is interesting. Therefore, every human should have the opportunity to speak of their life as someone listens.
Next time you’re at an airport (or any place busy with human interaction, for that matter), observe. Question and ponder. It was fascinating enough to me that I wrote an entire blog about it. What will your experience be like, I wonder?
Warmth and light,