Julia Gabbert

            I’m a road trip kind of person; I won’t even flinch at the prospect of driving cross-country for 24 hours or longer. And because my whole family is the same way, it wasn’t until high school that I had the chance to fly in an airplane. I was very active in my high school journalism program (which sparked the love of journalism I have today), and the program was successful enough that it allowed us to travel for journalism competitions. My junior year I flew to Phoenix, then the following year I went to Washington, D.C. On both of those trips, along with my most recent trip, I’ve had the same unavoidable and slightly existential feeling of being very, very small.

            In Lambert airport, but also all the other ones, people are constantly scrambling around everywhere. People from all around the world. People with their own individual problems. People I will never, ever see again. They’re all heading to different destinations and the five seconds in passing is (most likely) the first and last time I will ever see that person as long as I live. What if we could have been best friends? What if together we could have changed the world? Neither of us will ever know. It’s a strange feeling to realize just how big the world is and how many people there are on this planet. (Of course my environmental studies background wants to think about overpopulation and how we’re beyond 7 billion on Earth and how that can’t possibly be sustainable at our current rate of consumption, but I digress…)

            Okay, when I referred to this feeling as “slightly existential” I was selling myself short. This is big, people! We are small and insignificant, et cetera.

            The positive side of airports, I guess, is that even for a short time, they can bring people together who would not have otherwise met. On my plane to London, I sat next to a woman from New Zealand. Later in the Heathrow airport, I recognized a family from the airport in St. Louis, who apparently shared two plane rides with me. We exchanged subtle smiles and nods of acknowledgement. It was almost a moment from a flashback (/sideways) in ‘Lost.’ Almost.

            My point in all of this is that airports are weird. That’s not a good weird or a bad weird, it’s just a for-lack-of-a-better-word weird. It’s a weird worth thinking about.

8/7/2012 10:01:34

You should have said, "See you in another life, brotha" to the people you shared your planes with...


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