I haven’t been on a plane for half a year, which has started to feel like some sort of personal record. I almost forgot I used a plane to get home from France last time I flew. After my extensive flying in spring last year, I got pretty fed up with the procedures and the waiting. I had spent days in airports on multiple occasions. In the case of Singapore Airport that can be a fun and exciting stay. In the case of Sydney domestic airport sleeping in front of closed doors might not be so fun. So, after this airplane excess I wasn’t aware I missed flying. Traveling, sure, but certainly not flying.
When my ride dropped me off at Frankfurt airport a few weeks back, so I could transfer to a train, he warned me he didn’t know where the train station was. But as soon as we had unloaded my bags in the drop off area I wasn’t worried anymore. A very familiar feeling took hold of me – a feeling of returning home. I have only flown via Frankfurt once, but airports are all essentially the same. Wherever you fly the first environment you enter is one of familiarity. With 36 flights and most of them within the last few years, I am not surprised I feel that way. Faintly, though, I remember a time in which airports were daunting, scary and stressful.
The first time I flew by myself I was horrified. I don’t know if it was the airport’s fault or due to the fact that I was sixteen, had just said goodbye to my family and knew I wasn’t going to see them for eleven months. So maybe that time doesn’t count. But even after that flying felt incredibly stressful. I was afraid I would be too late for check-in, that my bag would be too heavy, that I was too slow at the security checks. I rushed those procedures so badly, like I didn’t have two hours left to board. My, am I glad I am so much more relaxed now. I have come to understand that essentially nothing can really happen at the airport. Everything works pretty much the same everywhere, and as long as you don’t try to smuggle a bomb (or nail file) on board you will be fine.
The last time I stressed at the airport, though, was equally terrifying as it was wonderful. I was leaving the USA again, and while already late, I had landed in O’Hare’s wrong terminal. Time would be enough for me to make the switch fine, but I thought I wasn’t going to get to say goodbye to my best friend Nate, who was still parking the car. It all worked out in the end, and when he found me and I saw the tears in his eyes, it was an absolutely beautiful experience.
I am thankful for every hello and goodbye I have said at the airport, and no matter if you’re leaving or returning, something exciting always waits on the other side of the airport. It is like a portal that can expose us to so much sadness or excitement and that is filled with anticipation, while in all its strangeness it welcomes you home every time you travel through its halls. I cannot wait for Frankfurt’s and Bangkok’s so different and yet all so familiar embraces which are coming my way.