Creative Nonfiction Contest Finalist

Airport: A Place Where Time Flies

What does my love for the airports tell me about myself?

Mehboob Khan
Dec 22, 2020 · 4 min read
Photo by Suganth on Unsplash

Say right after you cracked a tough interview. You might be satisfied because you got the job, but you will also be restless to celebrate.

Similarly, a melange of emotions stirs within me every time I am at the airport. I feel satisfied because I am traveling to a new place, leaving behind all the worries. Restless, because one, the thought of missing the flight keeps me on my toes. Second, I love to scan the whole place, relish the imposing architecture, buy a new book, watch the planes take off, devour an expensive cup of coffee, and talk to strangers. It’s the perfect artist’s date for me. I feel free, nimble, and full of life. Like a lamb let loose on a grassy knoll.

Airports are like a second home for me. I travel to some place every three months. It might be an official trip or a casual vacation. But whatever be the destination or the nature of my errand, I am always excited at the prospect of sitting amid the hubbub of the airport, waiting for my flight; Singing with a group of hippies playing guitar, watching business executives in their expensive suits working on their laptops, getting stubbed on the toe by over-excited kids running helter-skelter, hearing security personnel screaming their heads off, moving out of the way of families with elders on wheelchairs, and getting blown away by air hostesses in their chic outfits dashing towards the airdromes leaving behind an echo of their clacking heels.

When I hear announcements, or see flights getting canceled on the led boards, I feel bad for the fellow travelers. I think how bad I would have felt had my flight got canceled. After all, it’s the thought of landing in a new city that adds to the excitement. Destination gives meaning to the journeys.

But sometimes I also get anxious when I think about the destination. It’s like how you feel when you are finally meeting your loved one after years of separation. You are excited about the meeting, but when you finally meet, you feel that something is missing. You don’t feel the same way as you had expected. Similarly, sometimes the new city might hold an unsettling surprise, or it might disappoint you in some aspect.

But the sojourn at the airport never lets me down. It’s like a meditation chamber for me. I get clarity of thoughts sitting on a chair, without the rattling train of trollies bothering me as it moves past me.

In those tranquil moments, sometimes, I wonder, what is it really about the airport that makes the experience so sensual? Why am I attracted to the airports?

Is it the idea of being only a few hours away from any corner of the world that is so exciting? Like how you feel when you are relaxing on a beach, staring at the line that separates the blue of the ocean from the blue of the sky. The thought that you are just seconds away from an adventure that can take you to any part of the world is rousing. The idea of riding the waves and sailing into the vastness of the ocean feels invigorating.

Or does the hot coffee at the airport tastes extra creamy because my worries are no longer chasing me? Like how you feel when your neighbor’s Rottweiler stops chasing you.

In other words, do I like running away from my life? Running away from my responsibilities, my work, my family, my friends. Running away from myself? The worries I leave behind can be said to be the different shades of life. Responsibilities can seem repulsive. Family can be overbearing. Friends can act like foes on some days. Life itself can be hard.

Am I always looking for the greener pastures on the other side, the treasure at the end of the rainbow, a place where the sea meets the sky, searching for a different life, a different me?

Is it only me who feels this way, or does everyone else?

The roaring sound of the aircraft engines often interrupts my train of thought and pulls me out of my chair so that I could see the plane whizzing into the air. It’s like the airport’s way of snapping me back to reality and telling me to chill.

The sight of the plane vanishing into the sky is satisfying. It reminds me to make the most of my time at the airport. Because like the airplanes, time also flies.

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