Ask anyone about their most romantic place and you’re bound to hear about Paris, maybe a remote Pacific island or a fire-warmed chalet in the snowy Alps. And while there are no wrong answers of course, I’d dare to add an unlikely choice to my list.
Many may vehemently disagree with me here, but to me, the airport – any airport – is one of the most romantic places around. Not a place I’d actually bring a date to mind you, but a place that charges me, for I see it as more than the stress-inducing chaos many do.
When I was young, my dad worked at the Prague airport as a ground rep for Czech Airlines. Dressing up each morning in a suit and tidy shoes, I thought he had the most glamorous job. He’d come home with stories of frantic shifts, autographed swag from my favourite football club and once, even a crate of live Canadian lobsters for dinner. He met celebrities, dignitaries and every day seemed like a new adventure. The odd time, he’d take me to work with him and in the process, instilled a feeling in me I still relive whenever I’m preparing to fly.
Look past the endless queues, the perpetual ‘lost’ look of some, those scrambling to make impossible gate connections and the over-priced everything and you’ll see what I mean. The place is filled with passion. In the Departures Lounge, the Arrivals Lounge, by the ’Ticketed Passengers Only Beyond This Point’ sign, heck, even at the curb outside – passion!
It’s a place for letting go and starting new, for overdue reunions and the most heart-felt of good-byes.
The airport and the emotions it evokes hammers home our humanity like few places can. It is without prejudice and completely alive and I come early not to make sure I get the seat that I want on my flight but to feel its never-ending buzz of humanity.
Love is easy enough to spot; glowing couples eagerly pawing each other in a check-in line, the pacing young man staring at a screen finally flashing ‘LANDED’ beside his girlfriend’s delayed flight number or an entire family seeing-off a beloved over-seas relative, perhaps for the last time.
“Ever has it been that love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation.” (Khalil Gibran).
I like the harder to find examples myself. Like the quiet couple, staring blankly into space, ho-hum, alone together. Or the ultra-conservative patriarch giving possibly his first ever hug to a daughter about to run off to find herself in Europe. Clearly, I like to invent a good story.
What is it about a terminal that softens us so? Is it the sheer distance that’s about to separate us from each other? The unknown we are about to embark on? Or the silly fear of this being our very last day should our transport tragically fail? It’s all that and more.
It’s the “I’ll see you soon” and the “I missed you so”. It’s the expression of whatever we are feeling, front row and centre, for everyone to witness. It’s sincere, unabashed emotion with each incoming and outgoing flight and to me, all of it, crazy romantic.
It’s a young boy at work with his dad, watching all the excitement from afar, saving the memory for a future Valentine’s Day blog post. Go on, take a good look around and take it all in. It is beautiful energy and it is constant – it’s Valentine’s Day, every day.
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