Essays

Cross sections

Airports are a wonderful place to be shaken.

Every sort of bubble you can live in, you do live in. A routine creates the bubble; sticking to that routine ensures that the outside world never gets in. 

Airports, travel, the encountering of the other, pops that bubble more quickly and more surely than any safety pin or toothpick.

I both love and hate airports; I both love and hate travel. The act and the art of escape is one I am most familiar with, but every time I use it, I’m reminded of why I should not.

And yet, there is a thing that happens to me when I am pressed into this sterile space of bad bars and overpriced restaurants with pedestrian decor and smelting, bacteria-ridden carpet. I both see and meet people unlike me.

From the bearded, tattooed, beanie wearing Colorado mountain man who reads from a tattered and loved book of poetry to the perfectly made up Texan cheerleader who holds her girlfriend’s hand with the tentativeness and obstinance of any Vermont-born vegan revolutionary that still appreciates her Southern families annual hog hunts.

We encounter a reality that is different than our own and for a moment, we are all forced to reckon with both our sameness – for we are all travelers, are we not? – and our differences that do not separate us as much as we would like or thought they did.

I come back, again and again, to airports not just because of the need to go from one place to the next, but also from the desire to be humbled at the times in life when it feels easier, nay, even preferable, to sit on my high horse.

I travel for my humanity. I travel for my empathy. I know it is a privilege; I would be loathe to surrender it, despite the discomfort that comes with it.

The most important part of the journey is the first step because once you take it, there is no turning back.

Aren’t we lucky for that?

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