Thoughts in an Empty Holiday Airport

An empty Santa chair guards the entrance to this wing of the terminal. Lights, set up around this throne hint at its daytime specials of jolly bearded men and fake wonderland photos taken by frazzled travelers as they pass by, coming and going from around the world. Yet there is no wonderland magic to be found right now, for Santa has gone home to Mrs. Claus, and I can take comfort in the fact that before he returns, I will find myself back in my homeland.

This Christmas is the only holiday where I’ve ever flown home. Usually flying means leaving home for a fun weekend trip or for a longer tourist stint, but never before has it meant waiting to go home. And yet, here I sit at gate B12 here in Seattle’s airport, waiting with a few random other people for an 8:30 flight to Sacramento. While I know that I am 1) early, 2) flying later in the day, and 3) still flying a couple days before Christmas, I am surprised. I expected to have to wait in long lines, to listen to weary parents trying to control their impatient children, and to have to make some space for myself at a crowed gate. Instead, everybody around me has their own row of chairs, including one small blond child who pushed two rows together for a better coloring surface. There are individuals hunched over laptops, tapping i-phone screens, and talking on phones, but we are all very much in our own worlds.  I find this fascinating: the part where we are all near each other, yet we do not acknowledge anyone else’s existence.

I remember that the wait for a flight seemed to take forever when I was younger, and that my dad would buy me books in the airport shops to entertain myself for our trips across the country. Those tactics worked well, and even now I am looking forward to reading on my flight. As I ponder the question of adulthood again, I wonder, is adulthood flying home by myself for Christmas? Or maybe the adult part is that I am meeting friends before I go home to my family. Either way, I am happy that in 24 hours’ time I will likely be sitting with my kitty curled nearby, with friends and family that I haven’t seen for several weeks and months.

California, don’t worry. I’ll be there soon.

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