Monday, November 15, 2010

Musings from an Airport

A few musings about airports during my 6-hour layover in Chicago….

Sitting in an airport, I always see people who look like people I know. Every other person reminds me of a friend or acquaintance, with just one little difference in look or manner. Why do I notice this? How do I see similarities in perfect strangers? I have heard that artists tend to be some of the few people who can identify what it is about a person that makes them unique and identifiable. I don't know if we artists can actually SEE the differences or just have more success than non-artists in describing those differences. Regardless, I see not only the differences that make people look unique, but I also see the similarities that make people look the same - especially at a distance. I have actually stared down an approaching person who I absolutely knew was someone I know - the closer they get, the more sure I am - yes, it is  - it has to be them …. or not! It's usually not the person I thought it was - except for one occasion. I really did run into someone I knew in the Denver airport about 11 or 12 years ago. Ever since then, I have looked for someone else that I know. One of these days it will be the person I think it is on approach!

It's also the place that I very often have deja vu. Might the deja vu be the result of such similar experiences from one airport-stay to the next? Each time I am at the airport, I am on my way somewhere - obviously! - I am always carrying too much, but I walk around as much as I can, knowing that soon enough I will not be able to walk around at leisure - I always have a book with me, and find places to sit and read while waiting - I watch people, sometimes getting into the same first-layer conversation of the "single-serving friend" (Fight Club). The experience of being in the airport is usually the same - just take the template of events and overlay it onto the specified airport: Philadelphia, Boston, Houston, Chicago, Dublin, Guatemala City, Madrid, San Juan, Rome - anywhere but Miami; every time I am in Miami, something goes wrong and the air conditioning is broken! The conversations or a pause and glance up from my book are the two times that most often generate the deja vu moment. Maybe I am not actually remembering this very instance happening, but the feeling of the moment is the same. A glance up from reading a book (usually something not too deep that will keep me from having to think too hard but will entertain me throughout the hours and hours of waiting), reveals a river of humanity flowing by me. Have I encountered this very river before? Have I waded into it and been touched by the same drops of water at another place? I like to think that I have!

There's something else about being in an airport - the hunger. There is a type of hunger that is specific to my airport experiences. After getting only a couple hours of sleep, getting up in the middle of the night, and spending hours in flight, the moment I step out of the jetway into the airport I this kind of hunger strikes. It's a shaky, bleary, psuedo-hung-over kind of hunger that only one thing will satisfy: lots of pizza!!! Thank God for pizza!! There is something about the warm, melty cheese and crust that soothes the soul and assuages that crazy hunger.

Now if I could only sleep....


  1. oh my word, stef! I think I see people in the airport that I know all of the time! And like you, it's only been once that I've actually seen someone I know. I'm not an artist by any means, so maybe the theory for me is that I am secretly yearning for a companion in a sea of strangers...

    I love reading your blogs.. you write so well and I realize that we are more alike than I knew! Can't wait to read more about your upcoming adventures and insights... I love you and hope your first day in Georgia goes well. I miss you!

  2. I miss and love you, too, Liz!! My first day was exhausting! We spent 10 hours in training: language class and teaching methodology! But today I was able to get out a couple of times to check out the city. It's been good so far!