Ah, airport…How I Love You!

A journey begins and I close my door with a strange mix of anticipation, apprehension, and adrenaline. I am awed by the unknown of every day…but especially mesmerized when I will wake in an unchartered locale. And, before it all begins, I anticipate a brief (or often not so brief) encounter with one of my favorite loves…some days charming, some days not so much, but I am forever invested in an affair of the heart with airports.

Last night, my flight was scheduled to leave O’Hare to catch a connecting flight in Newark, NJ that would take me to Mumbai…a dream come true! When I woke up in the morning and had to swerve through an obstacle course of tree limbs grounded by thunderstorms, I should have anticipated the delay that would challenge this seamless itinerary, but I arrived at the airport with my typical sense of glee. No matter what…this adventure was getting started.

Well needless to say, the gates were filled with weary travelers who had been locked in the airport for hours turning into days. Wherever I wandered, I encountered narratives about missed connections, inadequate airline service, deceitful taxi drivers, and endless winding “queues” (I love when people use that word).

After some deliberation, and a short interlude with a handsome stranger (beautiful British accent…need I say more?) I was on a very delayed flight to Newark with the full understanding that my plane to Mumbai would likely be in flight when I arrived.

Here’s the thing about airport drama…it builds an immediate sense of camaraderie. I parted from my stranger acquaintance to find my seat. With an impending reported hour on the tarmac, the conversations began. To my right…the confident traveling executive who was thrilled with his successful Chicago business encounter and proudly returning to his family in suburbia. To my left…the serious, yet youthful, college history professor worried about missing her role on a panel discussing implications on working-class men of the British suffrage movement. Front-right…a pair of recent Notre Dame grads returning home after making a partnership proposal to their alma mater. Even a trip to the bathroom led to a brief encounter with a flamboyant storyteller reveling in his account of a 45 hour journey between Chicago and New York. His flair for storytelling, sarcastic nature, and ability to create a sense of drama…along with a calendar stuffed with appointments to distant Macy’s approving their furniture selections…made me want forget my destination to carry his sofa cushions.

Sure enough, I missed my connection and found myself back in touch with the accented wanderer. As we waited in line, I learned about his global adventures, financial highs and lows, and recent wedding party responsibilities that brought him from England to??? BOLINGBROOK….yes…. strange! We parted ways at the counter, but his stories of yearlong travels and mysterious destinations nudged my ongoing wanderlust.

With too much detail to share and hours of “collaboration” with customer service reps. from all industries, I settled into my whirlpool clad “comfort” suite for a night of energetic dreams and a luxurious and unexpected soak.

Here I am…back at the airport…wondering about the journey my suitcase took and if we’ll be reunited again.

Three more airport romances today…Frankfurt…Mumbai…and Sri Lanka…ready and waiting.

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