Airportal.

posted in: Day In The Life, Paean, Travel 4
Universal.
Universal.

I like planes. Love them, actually.

I love planes so much, I’d marry them. I’d marry planes and have plane babies. And those babies would play with toy planes on planesAnd they would be very well behaved, my children.

I like airports too, quite a lot. As a rule, I arrive at least two hours early to any flight I take just so that I can walk through the terminal a bit then find my gate and plop down to work. I get more done in airports than anywhere else. I’d wager there’s 15% increase in my overall productivity and a 10% spike in creativity. If I knew how to merge those numbers to yield some kind of work-probability number I could stick into a P&L, well, I wouldn’t be a content creator, I’d be doing something else and probably be flying first-class.*

People move through space in airports with a plan and a purpose and that is a comfort to me. I like the scale of airports, even the small ones. I like that I can buy stamps, newspapers, and hot coffee every fifteen feet; I like how airports are basically vast, continuous newsstands where planes drop down and scoop you up and deposit you someplace else.

It’s lucky I feel this kind of way, since I seem to be traveling by plane every other week right now. Maybe it’s because I fly so much that I’ve come to love planes and airports like I do; maybe it’s just the familiarity. After all, I have my rituals, like anyone else who travels all the time for work; everyone loves their rituals, travel or otherwise. (A few of mine: if I’m on a flight out of Midway before 10am I go see my friend Sam at Potbelly’s, who never charges me for extra cheese; I always bring my journal, a book, and and eyemask; I know where the secret bathroom is at LaGuardia; I visit the USO and donate money wherever there’s a USO and I have enough time. Stuff like that.)

I hear air travel used to be sort of glamorous, but I don’t know anything about that. I book my own flights. I schlep my own stuff. From time to (glorious) time there will be a car service waiting to pick me up and my name will be one of the names on signs when I come down the escalator, but that’s atypical. Usually, it’s a solo walk to a taxi line. Indeed, loving airports is loving them alone most of the time and in spite of the hiccups and the headaches that will forever occur.

But we can fly. And that’s the real reason I’ll always love being there.

Human beings can fly through the air. Airplanes, and the airports that facilitate their operation, are human ingenuity and effort, materialized. There were so many failures. It took so long. The Wright brothers were just one part of a really, really long process of creating viable air transportation — a process that has probably only begun, in the grand scheme of things. And to coordinate the hundreds of thousands of people who fly every day, to get their bodies and their belongings safely from one end of the earth to the other — it can’t possibly ever work. Of course it fails, sometimes, but more often, the system does not fail. And I love humans for that. I love what we make and that we know we need to make it better, now, so that air travel is gentler on the earth. (I don’t have a car, by the way, or a kid, or a TV, so I feel like I kind of offset my footprint in those ways.)

I love planes and airports so much, I would tattoo a plane on my body. Hypothetically.

*I am A-List on Southwest at this point! Glamour for days!!

4 Responses

  1. Laura Phipps
    | Reply

    Great post Mary! I too have the same passion for airports!

  2. Taylor
    | Reply

    I love airports too… I have only been fortunate enough to travel on a plane a small handful of times (mucho dinero! 🙂 ) in my life, and only ever for school or work (no vacations yet!). I am always annoyed when people complain about traveling, because it sounds pretty awesome to me…. I’ll go anywhere! 🙂 I think I like airports so much because even though they’re the same in purpose, they’re usually very telling of exactly where you are in the world. I mean, where else can you ride a sidewalk and get all the euros your heart desires? 🙂

  3. Aprille
    | Reply

    I thoroughly agree. People who complain about the various discomforts of air travel need to remember the amazing ridiculousness of it. There’s nothing quite as miraculous as flight. You get into a box, you go up in the sky, and when you land, you’re somewhere far away. And you almost never die.

  4. Jan Curtaz
    | Reply

    I can’t share your fondness for air travel. I was an army brat, flew to Europe before jet travel on MATS. (military air travel service) longest trip-18 hours, even with jet travel.

    I think you need a part time executive assistant. Help free you up from bookings, travel plans and break times. Part-time, because I know, you’d have to pay that person, and, executive because, hey, if there is only one–they would be the executive in the office hierarchy of one!

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