Sunday, May 4, 2008

Some day I'll fly away

When I was young I loved going to the airport with my family. It either marked the beginning of a new adventure as our family welcomed yet another international exchange student into our fold (my family has hosted 11 exchange students over the years), or a sad, but heart-warming, farewell as they one-by-one returned home to their respective families and countries. So airports have always held a special place in my heart.

Today when I think of airports I am reminded of the touching beginning and ending sequence of my favourite movie Love Actually where friends and family are re-united at Heathrow Airport. The pure joy and happiness of the airport hello-goodbye greeting is beautifully encapsulated by this montage as dozens of real life people share embraces, caresses and kisses. That's the thing about airports though, there's this happy energy about them that makes you feel like anything is possible. People are either excited because they are heading away on a holiday or a trip, or they're happy to be arriving home after time spent away from their loved ones.

Once you make it beyond the airport's main hallway, though, and pass through immigration into the departure lounge you enter a liminal space – a place of transition that is neither here nor there where everyone is a stranger. In spite of the geographical solitude, this border between what was and what is yet to come is still the site of possibility and everyone who enters it has the potential to be changed. No matter where you are going and what you are doing, the experiences you have, the people you encounter and the sights you see while away will change you; even if only in a small way. So as we wait patiently on the threshold of travel there's an air of expectation and excitement as we ready ourselves to move across the limits of what we were into what we can be.

But that is what I love most about airports; the possibility of what can be. Luckily for me, that 'some day I'll fly' away is in fact tomorrow.

See you on the other side!

Image sourced from


Neil said...

So here's what I often wonder about couples reuniting after a long abscence at the airport. How do you make sure you "look the part"? Assuming you're wanting to show effort, how awkward is it trying to "freshen up" in those airplane bathrooms!?!

Kim Wildman said...

Hmmm, yes, freshening up in bathroom on a plane is impossible! My tact is to make a run for the first toilet I see when I disembark. There's always one just before immigration (it also pays to impress immigration officials) and then one again in baggage claim, so it is a good way to kill some time while you wait for your luggage.