Having anxiety often makes you feel totally alone in the world, like you’re the only person who doesn’t know what they’re doing, like you’re an alien hiding in plain sight, like you are every kind of wrong and there’s nothing you could ever do to be right. But in an airport? That’s the great anxiety equalizer. Nobody is really calm in an airport, and because of that, I feel more at home in one than in just about any other public space.
Airports are also liminal spaces, and I really do have a sense of comfort in the in between places where time and belonging are muddled. Nobody is meant to be at the airport, it’s only a place to pass through. (I get that employees would disagree, but stick with me here.) An airport is a threshold, neither the place you came from nor where you’re going. It’s a holding bin where anticipation and relief meet.
The only expectations on me at the airport are that I show up ridiculously early and that I follow very clear rules in my preparation and execution of my trip. These are two things that practically quell my anxiety entirely. Be there two hours before I’m actually needed? Right on! Do not pack anything from this very specific list? Can do! Place your bags in a distinct order and follow the directions of uniformed people constantly repeating said directions? My friends, I am your model flier.
And then, best of all, the wait. I like a delay about as much as any other person, but I do like a planned block of time in which I am forced to do almost nothing. That’s the good shit, man. Inject that straight into my veins! Sure, I can waste time any day, but at the airport it’s expected, needed even, for you to be bored. And there isn’t enough boredom in the world anymore. Read without the guilt of getting something else done, jot down some ideas for the next book, listen to music and just really sit there and listen to it. There’s nothing else you can do, buddy, so you may as well chill out. This is what I tell myself, and it’s glorious. I know the airport is the worst part of travel for a lot of people, but to me, they’re a comfort.