I love being in airports. I love their bustle, their balance of art, commercialism, and practicality, their hum and buzz. This is a love that goes way back, when going to the airport as a kid signaled freedom adventure. A new place! With new (perhaps laxer?) rules. A timeout from the ordinary home and school routine. And this may be purely pavlovian, a signal that a trip is starting, but that love has carried on to this day.
And that’s why, sitting in a corner booth of a cafe at JFK airport on Sunday, I was delighted. Not by my upcoming trip, which wouldn’t seem real until I got there, but by the act of being in transit.
Things happen in transit that you don’t expect. You see things, you taste things, you smell things. You find a corner of a foreign airport dedicated to napping lounge chairs full of sleeping tourists. Or an unguarded piano where a sixth grader decides to play a song at an entirely inappropriate hour. Or meet a British family who’s five-year-old says hello to introduce you to his Corduroy bear and it transports you back to your own childhood and being read the same story.
I love all the places in between the places, the truck stop, the highway gas station large and small, the Greyhound station with its vending machines, the magnificent art deco train station, the wet subway platform, the dock on the spot that’s not land and not-yet-the-sea.
And that’s why, I don’t mind a very long layover, or delayed flights, or interrupted plans, because I love my time at the weird, cheery, always bright airport.