I have got so used to travelling. And I don’t say it for the sake of it and not even in a desire to show off or anything. It’s just a matter of fact.
I am always in transit. All of my life (my stuff, my clothes, my books and notebooks, my printed pictures etc…), can be packed up in a suitcase (or 3 to be accurate). Buying plane tickets, doing online check-ins and going through security checks, panicking for the extra kilos of my luggage, and wearing multiple layers when not everything fits inside my suitcase has become as normal to me, as if not as breathing, at least as walking.
Nevertheless, every time I walk into an airport, I feel like a child in a playground or in a toy shop. My eyes light up, my soul becomes lighter and merrier. I start smiling uncontrollably.
Maybe it’s because of the sense of anticipation for what a new place will bring me: new adventures, new situations, new friendships and encounters, new insights…Maybe it’s just because the airport feels like a familiar place, although in its unfamiliarity: a place of transit, where everybody passes through but where nobody stays for long. A bit like me.
It’s hard to describe the whirlpool of sensations I go through in the moment the plane takes off or when I gaze into the sky from above. It’s hard to put into words how serene I feel and how blank my mind goes when I am above the clouds and all I can see it’s the deep blue sky.
It’s something extremely peaceful and hypnotic. I cannot help but abandon myself to this calm and quiet feeling, with my head leaning against the window and my eyes wandering in the fluffy white of the clouds, in the gentle blue of the sky.
What I can better describe to you, it’s what an airport (of the many I have been to) is like. Especially for those of you who don’t travel often, I think it can be fun, to discover and imagine a place through my words, like kids listening to a fairy tale and making up in their minds giant castles and far away lands.
So here it is, a chronicle of my latest trip back to Italy, from the airport of Leeds.
2.01 pm, Leeds Bradford Airport, Friday 17th May
I am sitting on a comfy sofa, as usual, waiting for my gate to be announced.
I am going back home and I am very excited and happy about it.
This time, like all of the other times, impossible to count anymore, I am enchanted by the magical atmosphere of the airport.
Perhaps it’s because, of all places, airports are suspended locations, in between Earth and sky.
They are places of passage, were everybody transits but no-one ever stays.
What I like about airports is that I can sit in a corner and watch all kinds of people and try to guess their stories. It’s the same for buses or trains, but it’s more special, maybe because man has always been fascinated by the sky and the dream of flying.
There are always stunningly beautiful children, with their cute little backpacks in the shape of butterflies or rhinos and hugging their stuffed animals: usually they’re incredibly well behaved and walk around carrying their mini-trolleys or comfortably crawl on the carpet, raising a smile on people’s faces.
There are old couples, very well dressed, either in elegant attires or very sporty, ready for their holidays, smiling at each other in a complicit way, as those who know.
There are young couples holding hands and exchanging loving looks, and there are solo travellers, determined to prove themselves what they are capable of.
Some of them carry huge suitcases, in the impossible attempt to squeeze their life in a bag and carry it with them (I am one of them). Some others instead, travel light, (it’s a real lifestyle) and they look relaxed, stylish and minimalist. There are people carrying musical instruments or wide surfboards and very tall backpacks, ready and open for exciting adventures in distant lands.
There are the gorgeous and professional flight attendants, in their polished uniform, perfectly combed hairstyle and impeccable make up. They look confident, competent and helpful, always with a smile (even if sometimes tired and sad) on their faces.
All with their own story. All with their baggage of experiences, mistakes, losses and happy moments. Everyone ready to embrace life and trust it once more. Everybody ready to put themselves together and jump in the void, with an unconditional leap of faith (in life? In a person? In a passion?) once again.
I feel very comfortable in airports. I love to look at people, without being seen, and exchange smiles with these strangers. Airports inspire me and make me reflect about myself. Where am I at this moment in my life? Am I doing what makes me happy? Which is my destination?
All of my thoughts and fears and worries and memories start running wild in my heart just before the take off and then it’s again just calm and quietness. Looking at the world from above the clouds gives me peace of mind. I feel full of gratitude.