backdate 7/23 11:22am
So I’m at Sea-Tac now, going to take off in about an hour. I love airports. When I was a freshman at USC I used to skip class and go to the airport just to watch people coming and going. These were the people from South Carolina, or folks visiting the area for one reason or another. Southerners mostly. And they all looked familiar. They looked like home, like people I could know.
Now I fly out of much larger airports, much larger cities. And I find myself looking for someone familiar, maybe even someone I know or did know at one time. I never do. Instead I see new faces and I watch them carefully, wondering what these people might be like, what they do for a living, where they live, what their families are like, if they have families. It seems the only thing we all have in common is that we’re going some place. We (or someone, at least) paid good money for us to get on a plane. We all carry something with us, underwear at the very least. (Okay, maybe not all of us.) Toothpaste, then. (Except the folks with dentures.) Really, I can’t think of another thing we have in common. We’re going places, all of us. And maybe that’s enough.
I think of the bond some folks on airplanes have had. Especially planes like Flight 93. I think of how a handful of strangers all came together and created another thing in common. Fear, maybe. Bravery for some. And then, finally, death. All at once.
And the people sitting around me, the guy eating a burrito, the woman with the heavy coat (despite the 90 degree weather), the guy who just offered me a bottle of water so that I would watch his bag (I politely declined the water), the ladies slurping yakisoba like it was the first meal they’ve had in days. We’re all born, we all die. But the differences, the things that happen in between those times, they are pieced together only when we get on a plane, only when the wheels leave the ground and we become airborne. All going to the same place, all at the same time.