The moment I step through the doors of an airport, excitement and memories flood my mind.
In late June, my parents and I took my sister and her youth group to Mid-Continent Airport for a flight to Phoenix, and every minute I spent wandering around the small airport and watching other passengers prepare for their journeys, I was reminded of why the airport is one of my favorite places. It not only is a place where so many of my wonderful travel stories start and end, it is a place where other people are either starting or ending their own travel stories.
The first time I traveled in the air was during the summer after I completed the eighth grade. Early on a June morning, my family and I boarded a plane to Florida for a week at the “happiest place on Earth.”
The Kansas City airport was just the beginning of an amazing trip. But we were not the only family on an adventure that day. Our terminal was filled with young children bubbling over the top with excitement about Disney World and parents trying to keep those kids calm.
When the plane coming back from Orlando arrived, families wearing Mickey Mouse ears and Disney shirts filed out.
Every person I saw that day had either been on a journey or was preparing to embark on one. Back at the drop off area, people were hugging good-bye or reuniting for the first time in days, months or even years.
Ever since then, I have loved that part of airports—the stories every passenger carries with him or her.
I have since flown to Los Angeles and New York City and created even more memories at the airport. An airport story from my New York trip is one of my favorites.
My group’s flight home connected in the Atlanta airport and only one other woman was waiting with us. We started talking to her and she told us her story. She was on her way to Wichita to see her son, who served in the Army and she had not seen in a long time. When we landed, my group and I happened to walk through the lobby just as the woman and her son reunited. It felt so special to witness that moment.
The stories don’t stop at the airport, though. While some people view an airplane ride as naptime, I like to think of it as a super-fast car ride miles above Earth with other passengers on their own journeys.
An entry in my vacation journal from my family trip to California describes my thoughts on plane rides perfectly: “As I fly thousands of feet above ground, I am just in awe of the beautiful earth I see below me. First, the circular patterns of Kansas farms. Then the majestic, snow-covered mountains jutting out of the earth. Next, the dry, barren desert with its cracks and canyons.
“Now we are passing the rocky Sierra Nevada, full of bumps and crevices. The pilot just announced that we are beginning our decent and excitement bubbles in my stomach. My adventure has only just begun!”
Dictionary.com describes an airport as “a tract of land…with facilities for the landing (and) takeoff…of aircraft, especially one used for receiving or discharging passengers and cargo at regularly scheduled times.”
But I describe it a little differently. An airport/airplane is a place where adventures begin and end. It is a place where every person has a story about where he or she is going. And it is a place where I have started and ended many memories, and hope to create many more.