Why the Airport is My Secret Happy Place

MR's July Writers Club Winner

Come with me to a magical place. A landless, timeless respite from regular life where you can lounge at the tipping point of something new, in a pocket of space that exists purely to usher you off to your next destination. A place where you can get tipsy on wine like it’s 9 at night when it’s actually 1 in the afternoon; buy luminizing lotions crammed with mythical ingredients tax-free like you’re Amal Clooney; and arrange yourself nonchalantly over the latest copy of Vanity Fair like you’re someone who sort of has their shit together (when, in fact, you do not). Come with me to the airport.

The way I see it, waiting for a flight at the airport is an underappreciated gift of modern life. There may not be any unicorns in this particular magical place, but you have to be here to go there, so while you’re here — crack open a Jilly Cooper novel and have a spring roll!

I feel passionately about airports because there are so few other circumstances in which I allow myself to be completely where I am. In the departures terminal, questions over whether I am in the right place at the wrong time, the wrong place at the right time, or whether I can, should, ought to do something other than what I am doing are all but irrelevant. Save for situations where I accidentally go to the incorrect gate or get a headache from standing in extra long security lines, the airport is one of the few places on earth where I can be pretty certain I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.

And lo, there are SNACKS.

At the airport, life gets distilled into its most basic sensory components and simple pleasures. I need to exist, entertain myself and wait. It’s a privilege to choose what I’d like to eat, what I would most enjoy drinking and the perfect literature, Sudoku, YouTube video or simple daydream to pair with it. Enjoying a large BLT over a crossword, if executed correctly, offers me a unique kind of stillness. In this brief snapshot, the daily din of worries pauses; I can enjoy where I am and the prospect of where I’m going, to the tune of a delightfully silent mind.

An airport may seem an unlikely place to find peace, but when my brain is accelerating into hyperspace and I find myself short of a mountain top or beach to slow it down, I’ll take what I can get — with a gin and tonic to drink please, bartender.

Photo by Hulton Deutsch via Getty Images.

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