Airports are beautiful and unique places with a mystique all of their own. If you are a seasoned business traveller, you are probably scoffing at this statement. After all, who hasn’t been stuck in a place when we desperately need somewhere else, a life delayed, on hold (road-sick and life weary and separated from kin by events outside our control) we are paused for a few hours waiting on the all clear – the planes fixed (don’t panic), the baggage handlers have decided to go back to work or the freak weather has suddenly departed and we continue homeward bound – with a story to tell.
Put aside your disbelief for a moment and see the scene through my eyes. I am in Heathrow Terminal Five departures land-side waiting for a client meeting to start. I sit taking in a few quiet moments to write this blog and I can’t help but feel small in this large open space.
Across from me are travellers – business and pleasure, who sit quietly sipping overpriced caffeine bombs with fancy names, staring at electronic readers (a few still holding paperbacks newly purchased, spines un-creased) or on laptops and notebooks. There is a family almost bricked into their chairs by a superfluity of luggage and essential domestic necessities. You just know that this is their one annual holiday – having scrimped and saved, they will go and make memories somewhere.
Raw, honest emotions saturate these places. The walls seem to drip with the feelings of families saying goodbye or hello to loved ones, foreign exchange students arriving (excited) or going home (older, wiser?) and lovers stealing a final passionate kiss before they part or as they re-unite.
Then there’s the musical 1, 2, 3, tannoys, announcing disasters and departures, “Will Mr Smith, please report to Gate 69 or we are going without you.” I can almost see the collective groan of passengers on the flight as the captain informs them that they need to take Mr Smith’s luggage off (it was the first bag on). If he makes this flight there will be some serious tutting.
I love the electronic boards displaying memories in the making with exotic names. I wonder where these places are and who lives there? What’s the climate like? Will it be hot, cold or temperate? What would you pack? It’s the possibility and opportunity. They feel like stories in the making: beginnings, middles and ends.
I think I might need a holiday…..