K.S. ANTHONY: Airports

21 March 2012


I always fall in love a little when I am at an airport.

There's something about the sense of possibility--the sudden epiphany of transience, of lives intertwined, of paths crossing--that makes an airport the perfect place to fall in love for a minute, or if your flight is delayed, a few hours.

You could be heading home to a perfectly secure life: know the way the new leather upholstery in your cart left at the airport will smell or the way the stairs will creak or the key will stick in the lock when you finally slide out of the black vinyl seat of a cab and up your front steps, but none of that trumps the intoxicating anonymity and the feeling that the world is wide when you're at an airport.

You pass strangers, hoping to catch someone's eye. You search their faces, looking for something you recognize: a sudden pursed smile, eyes that pause long enough to glance and take your breath before you can mouth hello. A warmth. A humanity. A mutuality. A belonging that you did not know before, but suddenly feel with all of your heart as though it was packed and folded up with the gym clothes that you never wore to the hotel gym because you never even went.

The airport is not like the street. Everyone has been x-rayed, searched. They've paid for a ticket. How bad could they be? The airport is like a great baptism. Sure, there are unpleasant people--the scowling, angry ones who sigh deep sighs and dramatically stare at their watches and look back at you in line at the gate or security, hoping to find some acknowledgement, some camaraderie in shared frustration--but for the most part, the airport, left to those who have been given the rare gift of time and patience either by their design or amused Fortune, is a place where the heart has space to wander and to wonder.