In Which I Talk About My Love of Airports

When I was a kid, I had a friend whose parents were divorced. She spent a few weeks during the summers in California with her dad and the rest of the year with her mom in Colorado. A couple of times my mom – who was friends with her mom and their friendship was the reason for our friendship – and I joined them when they went to the airport to send her to California.

It was the late 80s. It was a kinder, gentler time to be an unaccompanied minor. The four of us would go through security together and go to her gate (which in our tiny regional airport was one of three and security took all of five minutes…actually, all of that is still basically true) to see her off.

I took my first flight when I was 18. It was my high school graduation gift from my aunt who lived/s for all intents and purposes, in Las Vegas.

It was either that or a microwave for my dorm. Tough call.

I flew from our tiny regional airport to Salt Lake City on a tiny jet with like 50 other people. And then I flew the rest of the way into Las Vegas on a real jet. It was cool. A little overwhelming and what if I don’t make my connection! but at the end of the day, it worked out fine.

My senior year in college was the first time I flew following 9/11. Security was much different to the last time I’d flown and the boyfriend I was leaving behind had to see me off from the entry side, before going through all the checks. I flew from Austin to Denver twice in under six months.

I haven’t flown a lot in my years but one thing I have figured out in the flights I have made is that I love airports.

I am an extrovert and an empath, which basically means that I not only sense and feel other people’s emotional energy, I kind of feed off of it. Where an introvert recharges their batteries by self-imposed isolation and calm, an extrovert tends to recharge by being around other people. If I am left alone too long, I get incredibly grumpy and my energy levels tank.

So being in a place where human energy is in constant flow is like a buffet for me. But even more than that, the building itself has its own energy. And the truly outstanding thing is that the energy of the place is entirely different to the energy of the city.

Take, for example, Chicago’s O’Hare and Midway airports. Perhaps due to their difference in size or that O’Hare gets far more pop culture attention, but I’ve utilized both and can unequivocally say they are incredibly different places. If for no other reason than O’Hare has the cool tunnels between the concourses with the light show. I just rode back and forth on the moving sidewalk for about half an hour, listening to the music and watching the lights (I’d rather kill time on the departure side of security than stress out over being late; I’m also a Type A personality).

Every major city has its own vibrations, its own energy. And every airport within those cities has an equally strong energy. Maybe it really is just something I have noticed. But it is at the heart of my love for air travel.

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