I will never forget the first time I’ve been to the airport to travel, not just to pick-up relatives vacationing from abroad. To travel not for leisure but for work. I was always fascinated with airplanes flying so high above me when I was a small girl. And so I was so flabbergasted when I got face-to-face with an airplane on one of the wide windows of the airport that night I’m bound for Kuwait. It was huge and magnificent that I had to stop, look and tell myself that it’s real, I’m looking directly at an airplane that I just used to see flying above me. I felt like the plane was staring back at me, too. It was wow! Then I went looking for my gate and I’ve seen a lot of people mostly Filipinos but many others with different nationalities, too! The shops, the monitors. And since then my love affair with airports has started.
I don’t travel much but yes, I love airports. There’s a different feeling whenever I arrive in airports. I love reaching them way earlier than my flight. For the past nine and a half years, I’ve been living eight minutes away from the airport. Sometimes, I go there to kill time. I go around then sit in a cafe as there are no cafes in my area. (Yes, you’ve read that right, none! Only Arabic style coffee shops that’s filled with thick, suffocating smoke from cigarettes and hookah/shisha/hubbly bubbly.) The Kuwait International Airport is small but development works are on progress so we’ll be seeing more of that in the next few months/years. Still, it’s okay to just go around the area where non-travelers are allowed.
When I travel though, as I’ve mentioned earlier, I love reaching the airport way earlier than my flight time. I go around the area before immigration then check-in then go around again. Once I pass the immigration, I continue walking around and checking all the shops without the intention of buying anything. (The only things I buy in airports are books and coffee.) Then after giving myself a tour of the entire place, I choose which cafe I’ll buy coffee from and find a good spot to read, write or just people-watch while waiting. People-watching in airports is never boring. Human drama right in front of your eyes.
Sometimes too, I just stare at several tv/monitors, big or small, showing the departure flights. Yes, I enjoy doing that. It makes me happy staring at all those flights change their status one by one — boarding, departing, delayed. Furthermore, I also like watching the ground crews do their jobs when a plane arrives at the gates. And I like seeing the pilots pass by us before boarding. Well, it’s nice to know who’s flying the aircraft, right?
I love airports not the way I love a certain restaurant, museum or shop. How so and why?
When I’m at the airport with my luggage and all, I know I’m set to another adventure. I’m riding an airplane. I am going somewhere. Some place other than where I am at the moment. A place I haven’t been to before or a place I’m returning to. Somewhere, someone or no one, is waiting for me. A place I might like or not. I’m going far away. Or I’m going home.
In addition, I feel most interconnected whenever I’m in airports. It’s a place so full of movements. A place full of change. My brain cells get so alive, active and energized. The diversity of people who crowd the airports, coming and going from one place to another for whatever reason. It’s compelling to see people of different nationalities, young and old, families, tour groups, solo travelers, waiting for their flights or just arrived.
Next, airports make you step back and wait. I mean, in this present world where everything just go by so fast, it’s just nice that whether you’re just transferring from one plane to another or having a really long layover, airports make you stand still, stop, pause, wait and think.
What’s more is that it makes me temporarily escape from my everyday life. From the person I choose to become. From the life I’m leading. It reminds me that I can go somewhere else again and start all over though it’s not going to be easy. The point is, there are many other possibilities, many cities, many countries to go to. Sometimes, seeing all the destinations in the monitors makes me realize where I really wanted to be.
Airports are a beautiful place of transition. For some, it’s where their journey begins, to others it’s where it continues or to many others, it’s where it ends. One thing’s for sure in airports though — no one stays. Everyone leaves.
Both photos are from Google. Credit to the owners.