On Airports

8daa58a5159406d621f1021989f10740I’ve started writing an essay titled, Why I Always Cry in Airports. I start writing this as I am crying in the Phoenix airport. I am trying to recall how many times I have curled up in faux leather seats or massive window sills and drawn my knees to my chest. I watch the rhythmic impossibility of flight. There is an energy here, a literal buzz of electricity and human emotion churning on top of each other. It changes the filtered cold air into something else. They are their own city, their own world, they are a literal no mans land, the gap between here and there, there and everywhere else.

I chose a seat at a bar facing out to the people passing. I want to watch them, and listen to the way they hurry. I do this before a flush of tears come on and now it feels like a strange choice or maybe a dangerous place to sit. But as I cry, bare and out in the open to hundreds of people walking past me, no one sees me. And I realize this is why I cry in airports. I am not crying because they don’t see me, I cry because they don’t see me. Because oddly enough, it feels safe. I don’t know if it could possibly make sense to anyone else. Certainly not to you. There is something so simultaneously exposing and isolating about this moment. I’ve often felt most alone in crowded places, our bodies pressing past one another, all strange and strangers carrying our own baggage and getting on with everything. Everyone near me is coming and going on their own time and their own life, and they too have broken hearts, and sick children, and exciting plans, and people they love. So many orbits and so close to one another, and yet, so impossibly far apart.

I think we can look at our lives, even from a close distance or inside the very moment, and recognize where shifts or breaks come in. In these instances the universe has given you a hard shove to the left and irrevocably changed the trajectory of the path you so foolishly assumed you were on. For lack of a better expression, nothing will ever be the same. For me, these moments have most acutely taken place in the hollowed walls of airports. I get cut away and opened when I am in new places. I get suspended in those planes, the world below stops, and we wait as we pass through time zones. It is safe to fall apart in the inbetween. 

Perhaps it is the gap, or the movement, or the fact everyone is so focused on where they need to be next that I feel like I am standing alone on a mountain in this sea of humans. There is nowhere to hide in an airport, no space to be alone and cry. They force you out into the open, sitting ducks and landmines. And even though I find a frightening kind of safety in this, I also know above all else this moment will not last. I feel so wholly myself and yet entirely other. There is a fast river moving around me and I need only to have faith in the condition of my condition. So for now I will sit here and cry in an airport.