Saturday, December 11, 2010

The People You Meet at Airports

I stood in the security line at O’Hare Airport today, which was much longer than it usually is—at least when I’ve traveled through there. Normally, I keep to myself, shuffling along with the rest of the crowd. But today, a woman behind me in line made a relatively casual comment about the wait and a conversation was sparked. For the next fifteen minutes we chatted about where we were headed, where we were from, where we had traveled before, and for a moment I created a bond, a brief friendship that would disappear the second we went our separate ways. What astonishes me most about these quick encounters is how much they can impact us. Even though we will probably never see each other again, this woman and I shared parts of our lives with each other, which—in my opinion—is one of the amazing things about travel. Something about being in an airport with people who are experiencing the same things you are, dealing with the same lines, the same delays, makes you want to reach out and make a connection.

Though I didn’t catch her name, I know she lives in Wisconsin and is headed to Australia for a 30-day trek through the outback and then down into the mountains of New Zealand. Finally, a woman after my own heart. This is a trip I would die to take, and here was someone actually doing it; taking life by the reigns and going on an adventure. Not only that, but she was alone. (Well, she’s going with a tour group, but she didn’t have a spouse or friend with her.) To take a journey like that and have no close acquaintances can be scary and overwhelming, but excitement was all I could read on her face. If anything, it inspired me, gave me hope that someday I could do something like that.

After we scooted through security, we put our shoes back on and said our goodbyes. And while I know everyone says those generic things, like “take care,” “travel safe,” “good meeting you;” in this case it felt truly genuine and sincere. I had enjoyed meeting this incredible woman, and I walked off to my gate feeling a little happier that she had come into my life, if only for a moment.

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