Sunday, December 13, 2009

Flying Solo

Airports… the hustle and bustle of people rushing to get to their gate on time; the nervous cluelessness of people as they go through security; the curiosity of children’s faces as their eyes take in everything that is the terminal; I love every bit about the airports and there is no place where I feel more at home.

Growing up with a dad working for Northwest Airlines, we traveled a lot. Holidays were often spent with relatives elsewhere and once a year my dad would take me and my brother on separate trips to whatever location within the United States that we wished to travel. I was always fascinated by the terminal with my wide-eyed curiosity at everything that so much as looked like a plane, but my love for the terminal did not come until the more recent years when I began to travel on my own.

When most people walk into a terminal they are stressed and worried as they frantically try to remember what can and cannot go in a carry on and what they have to remove be

fore going through security. I, however, enter the terminal with a sense of excitement running through my every fiber. I hop into line and look around at all the different people that surround me. My mind engulfs all that it can in the few precious moments as I stand there. Everything from military personnel to a small child running circles around their parents is in my view. The airport is the ultimate view of the middleclass American melting pot.

I step up confidently to security to have my i.d. viewed and my boarding pass checked and marked off before making my way to the bins. It is fun to see unprepared people attempt to juggle all of their belongings as they dump change from their pockets and throw off their jackets and untie their shoes. In the mean time, my laptop is in my arms waiting to be placed in a bin. My shoes are already off, I have no metal on my person, and my jacket sits waiting with my shoes. They go through so much craziness and still have to have their bag checked because they forget to take their laptop out, or they have to be wand searched because they forgot the keys in their back pocket. As they or their luggage gets searched, I already have my shoes on, my laptop packed, my belongings secured, and am ready to start the rest of the adventure.

As much as I love the confidence booster of

being the only person knowing what they are doing on a flight, what I love even more is the waiting area and the flight itself. I love people watching and the airport waiting area is the perfect place to do so. People go bustling by of all sorts of shapes and sizes carrying luggage of the same diversity. I always like to imagine stories to go with some of these people as to where they are going and where they are from. Anytime I get the chance to actually meet the majority of these people I am usually completely off, but it’s still a fun game to play. I wonder how people see me…

One woman just walked by, cute, redhead, about mid20’s, carrying a child who seems to be about a year old. Behind her is what seems to be either her sister or friend, a brunette about the same age, carrying the baby’s carrier and looking

rather unhappy. I can only imagine she must not be too excited about her situation, I too would rather be

carrying the child in comparison to the child’s carrier. The child is a redhead with the brightest blue eyes I have ever seen and, oh, what a smile this child has. She could most certainly steal the hearts of many. Oh she is crawling around and just being an adorable, explorative child. I think I have made a new friend. Nothing brightens up people waiting in an airport more than an adorable, smiling, explorative child. (Although, on the flip side, nothing puts them in a more sour mood than a crying infant on a plane.) My best wishes to my new friend as she explores the exciting world of airport and airplanes.

The big looming question still sits in my mind as I scan the gate. Who will I sit next by? As a single passenger it is usually inevitable that I will sit by some a random person. (Child just sneezed into her blanket and looked up at her mother with a huge smile as if to say silly me, mommy, look at what I did.) It is always my favorite part of life itself to get to know that person. I have made lasting friends simply by sitting next to them on a plane. My first airport friend was named Cal. I was sitting in the airport in Detroit waiting for my connecting flight to go to Florida for my brother’s EOD graduation. I was missing a Packers game (I was a packers fan at the time because my boyfriend at the time was. Now, I have a mind of my own and am an ever faithful Vikings fan) He was watching the Packers game on the phone and I asked him how it was going. Conversation continued on from there and we ended up exchanging numbers and keeping in touch. We both travel a lot and I end up in the Detroit airport a lot (where he is from)and he ends up in the Minneapolis airport a lot, so we now both have another place to stay if we ever get stuck in a layover. We’ve had lunch a few times when he has been in the cities over the summer it is just good to know that I have a new friend from a random encounter. Another one that stuck with me was a guy named Jake. Oh Jake… how that guy made me laugh. I sat down next to Jake and, I don’t remember why, but soon after the plane was in the air he was making fun of me. We talked about everything. He did some work for some water company and had just finished a project in Marquette. I do not remember where I was flying to for this flight, but I was going to Detroit for a layover first. We walked to our next gate and waited for my plane to board together. I remember at one point he asked if this was going to be like in those chick flicks where the guy meets the girl and never sees her again and forgets to ask for her number. We exchanged numbers and stayed rather good friends after that, but we have sort of lost touch since. On my way to Haiti while flying to Miami I sat next to this one guy who was working towards being a Catholic priest. He was an interesting fellow to talk to. He was telling me to serve God and to go out in the world, but never really gave me a chance to tell him the irony of the fact that I was on my way to spend a week in Haiti. I wonder who I will meet on this flight.

I am sitting in seat 1A for this flight, first class, oh boy. First class usually is lofty people who do not like to talk. I rarely end up making long terms friends with a person in first class, but, who knows, maybe I’ll be surprised this time!