Tomato Tastes Better at High Altitude

Wall of windows at the airport to a partly cloudy sky and one plane lifting into the airA greater energy surrounds us as sliding glass doors part. We enter a zone of industry. Windows flank the exterior wall and allow natural light to flood the massive airport atrium. Taxis and shuttle buses accelerate outside, their noise loud then soft as the doors continue to open and close. We’re squeezing in one more trip to the beach before the end of summer.

I follow Stockton to a ticket kiosk. He prints out boarding passes and I adjust my sunglasses. We make our way to the security line. Nearby a TSA agent judges IDs, “Next in line please!” Excited chatter and bored sighs fill the lanes ahead of us. I compliment Stockton on his easy-to-see (to me) red t-shirt. There’s a lot of black and gray around here.

After the ID scrutiny we queue into the secure area. The clatter of belongings on conveyors fills my ears. Laptops lounge in plastic containers while bags and wheeled suitcases go without cover through the scanners. Small items plop into small containers next to hastily removed footwear. The serious circus of maintaining safety plays out.

My socked feet walk over smooth floor towards the body scanner line. When my turn arrives I diligently take the position. The machine hums and delivers a dose of security line radiation. When the agent waves me through, “Ma’am in the pink shirt you’re alright to go,” I meet Stockton and gather my things. Metal rollers of the baggage chute clankety-clanks an audible goodbye as we walk away.

In the main concourses my sensory system reaches capacity. The smell of savory items competes with sweet ones and the sounds of airport life wrap around me. We decide to order a smoothie and join another line. People glide past on cell phones while pulling luggage. Travelers move in all directions mirroring the variety of their destinations.

We find a place to watch planes at a large window. A brief respite from the chaos. The bright blue sky cheers up the bland concrete landing strips. A few planes park at gates, jetways extend to meet them. I squint for my favorite airport component, the speedy baggage carts towing multiple trailers. I watch them zoom between planes in their (unseen to me) designated lanes, The trains of the tarmac sprint to stay on schedule.

I sip from the drink cup and a tropical mix of mango and lemon and ginger coats my tongue and soothes my throat. Kale hides in there somewhere, too. Could’ve fooled me, but not Stockton.

I listen as ticket agents collect boarding passes with a symphony of ding, ding, dings. Stockton checks the clock and decides it’s time for us to seek our gate. We merge into the foot traffic. I swipe my cane in an abbreviated arc. Any place meant for wheeled items makes my journey easier, but I hold Stockton’s hand as well, a united front to the busy area ahead. The building vibrates with air pressure changes and I imagine planes flying over us. Before I know it we will be the ones whizzing through the air, a bundle of departing energy.

What do you notice in airports? How do you navigate the busy areas? What is your favorite food in the concourse? Tell me about it.

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3 Comments Add yours

  1. Its been a while since I’ve last flown and I didn’t take the time to notice all that you’ve described here. Susan, during this trip through the airport I really felt like I was with you and it sadly reminded me of how much I took for granted. I actually worked for the managment firm of the Airmall and PIT so perhaps that’s one more reason why I took air travel preparations for granted. Lovely post!!

    1. You were making the skies stylish, Steph!

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