This is NOT a hinky post about the mile-high club, or some freaky new use for luggage straps. So calm down.
It is, however, a little strange…
Does anyone else get really excited about the airport? I have to say one of the bitterest disappointments of the post-9/11 era is that going to the airport isn’t quite as thrilling as it used to be. Now, instead of getting a knot in my stomach when I think about where I’m going and how ridiculously long it’s going to take me – really, I won’t sit in the exit row because at hour 7 of any trip, I start thinking about jumping out – I get a knot in my stomach thinking about going thru security and if I left my lip balm in my purse.
True confession – I have been known, in more innocent, psychotic-shoe-bomber-free times, to go to the airport just to watch the planes land. I used to be the sort of person who would meet a friend who had a layover in the airport – and trust me, I live in Atlanta so EVERYBODY did – for a drink, just for an hour, in the airport bar. How could you not? All that hustle and bustle, it made me feel jet-set by osmosis.
I fly a lot, and so I still get a great deal of enjoyment out of the airport. I love to watch the people rush around, tickets grasped tightly in their hands, carry-ons packed to bursting, and wonder where they are going. I love the USO greeter who meets the soldiers at the terminal entrance, when they come back from whatever God-awful tour of duty they’ve been on. I love watching the faces of the folks waiting to pick up their relatives at the officially sanctioned greeting spot, by baggage claim. And I love mocking what their relatives are wearing when they get there. Reallly, people – pajamas are meant to be worn by CHILDREN on airplanes. If at all.
But my favorite thing is to scan the departure boards as I walk towards my own gate – because it’s ALWAYS the last one – and look at the names of the various cities, and daydream about a trip to this place or that. Sometimes, the city listed is less evocative than others. Kansas City, for instance, inspires a daydream of about 14 seconds. But coming home from my recent trip to Spain, after two weeks away from home, I looked up at the departure gate next to mine and saw: LUXOR, Egypt. Home of the Valley of the Kings, King Tut, and the epicenter of Egyptian history.
And for a second, my imagination was filled with sand, camels, the hot desert wind, and Howard Carter looking through a chink in the wall and whispering, “I see wonderful things…”
Now, to even consider changing my flight home for a flight to Egypt was completely insane. I had been gone for weeks already, I’d been in Chicago for two weeks befor that, I was just about broke, and I was literally dying to get back to my own turf and eat enormous quantities of American food. I got on my flight to Atlanta and a very happy homecoming, and told myself I didn’t miss anything at all.
“I see wonderful things….”