I love airports. I know that for many people they are the bane of one’s existence, but I love the idea of travel, the goodbyes and hellos, the people who are there alone, the people who are there with others. It’s great to see the expected and unexpected ways in which humanity comes together in airports and on airplanes.
Right now I am sitting in the Denver Airport terminal C as I await the arrival of my colleagues for our trip up to Fort Collins and our winter meeting of our doctoral program. I am so excited for this for a few different reasons, and I’m sure I’ll continue to write about our goings-on throughout the weekend, but a few things I’ll highlight.
I began my morning at 3:30 when I could not sleep any longer in anticipation of my trip. My dad phoned at 4:15 just to make sure I was up for my 5:00 departure from my house. I guess there’s just enough sleeplessness in my family that it went all around. When I arrived at the airport, I drove around for what felt like forever, looking for a parking spot, only to end up parking next a faculty member from my campus who has license plates which label both the institution and the department in which he works. I love this aspect of living in a small town.
After arriving in Denver, the flurry of emails arrived from campus and text messages from friends wishing me safe travels, some who are also traveling, others leaving soon for great life adventures, and from my parents encouraging a safe flight. One stuck out. It was from a good friend who I met when living in Colorado as we worked on our master’s degrees together. He asked me to call when I landed, and I thought back to the many flights and trips to the airport we had together, whether one of us picking the other up or dropping them off, flying back to the Midwest at the same time, or other situations. Upon seeing the text message, I half expected to see him in the terminal. Who knew airports could bring us together when we live miles apart?
After calling him back, I caught up on my email first and foremost and then started reading Buzzfeed, perhaps the greatest time waster that has been created recently. One post struck me as a mother of a child with autism shared appreciation for the person sitting next to her daughter on their recent flight. While I was reading that article, a woman came up to the couple sitting near me and asked where they got their food because it looked like it tasted good. Would she have done that in a mall or another public space where people were not forced to sit together for a period of time? It’s debatable, but I appreciated the simple compassion of this today.
When I first arrived at the airport this morning, I was thinking about the way flying used to be, with less security checks, keeping my shoes on, leaving things how I had packed them, and a hub for interaction. Those were great days and I miss them, but it also seems that in this loss of privacy, increased regulation of safety, and general hurriedness of the world, airports are also the place where we can take the time to look up and smile at one another, recognize our common humanity, and lend a helping hand to one another.
This might be a little different than the other Wednesday encouragement posts that happen this year, but as we think about traveling and being present (stuck) at airports, I hope that we can all continue to show a little compassion to one another and recognize our common humanity.