Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Sonder


There’s something about airports.

The feeling of being surrounded by countless lives so drastically different from your own. But just as vivid, just as complex. The feeling that all those unknown faces and anonymous names have gathered in a single space. Snippets of conversations drift into your ears, images of people you’ve never seen before and will never see again. And yet your paths happened to cross.

You sit in a seat whose comfort is deceiving, another traveller an inch away from both of your arms. You got the armrest. You’re close enough to see the swell of their chest with every breath. Your finger glides over the seam of your wallet, tempted to buy overpriced items that you never otherwise would. Airports with waiting halls that require no necessity for distraction, no constant page flipping or social media scrolling. For once it becomes enough to sit and sip lukewarm coffee from a polystyrene cup, eyes flickering from side to side. Watching other lives being lived.

It’s electric.

Walls that have watched, toilet seats that have felt more than most. Every battered suitcase its own level of stuffed, wheels sliding over floors that have licked the sole of every shoe, halls that have heard the sincerest of goodbyes and the most heartfelt of hellos.

On your left, or right depending on the mood, light cascades through larger-than-life windows. Views of planes waiting to take off to destinations of which you may have never heard, places you might not ever get the chance to visit. Pilots that perform under the pressure of countless lives on their shoulders, air hostesses that purse their lips together in a failed effort to hide the pain of their uniforms digging into their chests.

Lean back in your fake leather chair and take a second. Just watch.

Watch the frequent flyers with their spotless suits and ties, the ones that can navigate through the airport with their eyes closed. Sometimes, early in the mornings, they do. Watch the picture perfect family ready for a holiday – sunhats already unique to the shapes of their heads. Watch the frantic duty free shoppers and the young, sun-kissed couples ready to conquer the world – together.
Together. Just for a while.

Before, within an hour or two, everyone will evaporate into their own separate directions. And the lives that lived around you will grow all the more vivid, all the more complex. As will yours.