Collective Remnants On Loan
A lot of people compare airports to a purgatory-black-hole. A sort of weird limitless in-between space competing for your precious attention, money and time. Save for a few notable exceptions (Changi), most are decidedly un-extraordinary and for-profit. What really matters is the space they provide: seating? outlets? a decent food/beverage option? Some concept of raum goes a long way too. LaGuardia in Queens has been the worst. Everyone knows this.
I like airports. Even the shitty ones like Fort Wayne, or Majuro. I like the in-between-ness of them. For one, they are excellent places for people-spotting. There are all the “types”, from frantic, to forcibly calm, to befuddled. I love the old couples camped out at the gate, having contentedly claimed their spot hours early. Some people drink or take medication to slide into flight mode. This usually helps with nerves, but not always.
I also like the unattachedness of being in between. You don’t necessarily have to be yourself. Sometimes you meet crazy, random people from middle school, sometimes someone is leaving and never coming back. Some people are drunk. And annoying.
But the possibility of airports is fundamentally cool. The where and how. And the why, too. They all have a wide range of options and outcomes. Tampa and Detroit sure, but sometimes Africa, or Ceylon. Sometimes people are going to weddings or bat mitzvahs. Cousins birthday parties. Sometimes it’s not so rosy.
Once there was a woman sitting on the floor, sharing an outlet with me, and crying on her way to her mother’s funeral. Fucking Newark.
In airports, we exchange ourselves and our time in order to be transported somewhere else. Sometimes its our choice–but often not. And it affects each of us in different ways. Sometimes we become other people. Sometimes we try to be nothing, as if it will get us home just a little quicker.
It’s really a shame that flying is so carbon-negative. Flying is dirty. It generates so much waste that it’s literally raining back down on us. But airports and other big places of transit reveal sides of us often unseen. People have to barter about where they end up, and how they get there, and watching that process play out hasn’t gotten old so far.