The Beautiful Purgatory of the Airport: Between the Ground and the Sky

“Time to move on, time to get going. What lies ahead, I have no way of knowing. But under my feet, baby, grass is growing.”                                  – Tom Petty

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Justine Leonhardt. British Columbia. 2006. JPEG. 

Most people think of airports as a kind of purgatory, the ultimate of in-between states. There are lines of people that stretch out to god knows where, precious goods dumped into zooming bins surveyed by a sceptical eye, the impatient travellers lined up for Zone 1 that surely belong in Zone 2 or Zone 3. There is the watchful eye of the passengers that sit across from you, staring blankly at the screen that reads out the destination and watching as the time slowly ticks back, a flight delayed.

It may not be a common sentiment, but as long as I’ve flown I’ve had affection for airports. I can’t pinpoint what the feeling is connected too exactly. It can’t be the duty free shops, or the 10-minute walk to a drinkable cup of coffee, but there is a strange, disarming pleasure in an airport. There are those who are going away on long-anticipated trips, and some who are merely travelling back to their home or an old one; and others who are leaving an old life behind, packing one bag and taking flight for a world that is still, by and large, unknown.

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