Finding Beauty in Airports: A Layover Story


Whilst in route to Berlin, I found myself in limbo-layover in the Newark airport. This limbo lasted for six and a half hours, and, as I am easily bored when required to stay in one general location for too long of a time, this was significantly less than ideal. To entertain my incredibly immature, five-year-old brain and attention span, I came up with a game for myself: to people watch until I found some sort of inspiration for a poem or story or personal journal entry.

I found nothing. Exactly at the moment, the universe decided that almost no one should walk by me, and the few that did appeared vastly uninteresting from a distance.

This made me antsier.

To pass the time, I decided to walk around with my obscenely over-packed carry-on and tried my best to not bump into every person that I passed: an endeavor that remains highly controversial, as the many victims of my deranged bag-carrying are currently emotionally recovering from my misdeeds.

It was here, however, that I began to see some of the beauty of airports.

One of the many beauties of airports is the way languages swirl around you as you walk, carried in the souls and vocal chords of people you have never met and may never meet.

I first thought of them as strangers, periphery people whose lives did not impact my own. It is quite strange, however, to refer to someone that we don’t know as a “stranger”—as someone who is “strange,” “foreign,” “other,” simply because you don’t know them. This seems unbelievably self-centered to me, a perspective that determines and assigns worth to someone else based solely upon our own perception of them and not on their own full and complex existence and inherent dignity, outside of the snippet we see of their lives.

This realization, however, is one of the reason I love cities, airports, and big crowds. It helps introvert Jenna better make sense of the world around her, which is something she needs, and often: that which emphasizes moving out of our own perspectives and into the beautiful conglomeration of beautiful good times, poignant bad times, and all the jigsaw pieces that put together a life and living.


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