Airports embody flow of life


Julia Schaller stands in the Los Angelos Airport, caught in the rush of airport traffic.

Julia Schaller

Julia Schaller stands in the Los Angelos Airport, caught in the rush of airport traffic.
Julia Schaller stands in the Los Angelos Airport, caught in the rush of airport traffic.
As I sit here, in the Los Angeles Airport, I am reminded of how weird people are. I don’t mean that in a bad way, I actually mean it in the best way possible. As the sounds of flight announcements, cell phone rings, quiet chatter, and TV news collectively fills my ears, I drown in this unique cosmos of colliding worlds, and I couldn’t be happier. I find myself falling in love with airports.
There’s a quote from one of my favorite movies of all time, “Love Actually”, that describes the beauty of airports and I think about it every time I’m in one: “Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion is starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don’t see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often, it’s not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it’s always there – fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know, none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge – they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaky feeling you’ll find that love actually is all around.”
I couldn’t agree more with these lines. There’s a certain beauty to watching people hustle from one terminal to the next, either to await an adventure, to return home, or to simply be there when a loved one arrives. I could spend hours just sitting in any airport, people watching. It’s so interesting to see how people get from one day to the next, and airports are a key place to notice how humans really interact with each other. During spring break, I had connecting flights from Kansas City, MO to Dallas, TX, and then from Dallas to Phoenix, AZ.
The plane had mechanical difficulties, so my flight ended up being delayed about four hours, which messed up the schedules of those of us on already booked connecting flights that were on time. After frantic calls for re-bookings and much confusion, it was worked out that the few of us who were supposed to be on the Phoenix flight should try to run from our arrival gate to a departure gate across the airport for a different, earlier flight so that we could make up any time that we could since we already had such a long delay.
There was a woman on my flight who took me under her wing. I was traveling alone and so was she, and when we arrived at the airport, she said a brief “Come on, girly!” I followed, and for that 20 minute journey to our new terminal, we were family. I found myself walking side by side in a monstrous airport with a young woman, who I knew absolutely nothing about, and yet, trusted completely. She was my travel companion, and she didn’t fail me. We made it to the gate, and we ended up getting on the flight together. We had a moment when we both got on the flight. We would never see each other again, but we knew. We looked at each other when she boarded in front of me, and we knew. We were just two people, whose lives fatefully intertwined for just over an hour, and that time would hold no real significance in the course of our time on Earth. We understood that. But that’s why it’s so awesome.
I truly believe airports bring out the true exquisiteness of humanity. Not only that, but airports are so symbolic to life. There are people constantly entering and leaving, some that you know, some that you’ll never know. Since I only have a couple weeks left of high school, I suppose I’ve been taking more time to stop and reminisce, while also intoxicated with the possibilities of the future. At the end of this coming summer, or even earlier, so many people that I’ve grown up with will make their way out of these terminals and get on with their lives. Each gate is a new opportunity. There are so many places to go and things to do, and so many paths beckon me.
I’ve always wanted to just pack my bags, go to an airport and just go. Have no direction, but just randomly choose a terminal and follow it wherever it leads and make an exhilarating voyage of it. That’s kind of like life, though, isn’t it? We have so many opportunities and options every day, and so many times it’s hard to choose what the right thing may be. It’s hard to know which path to take in order to lead you on the most adventurous journey, with the best destination. But that’s life, and that’s the essence of airports.
So next time you’re in an airport, take a second to look around. Think about your life, or just observe the people around you. I think you’ll be surprised at how infatuated you’ll become with life.
By Julia Schaller