There are a lot of places to look out into the distance longingly, but the best place by far is LAX. Like with all airports, the world between the walls of the terminal constitutes a fourth dimension. As you shuffle through security, worries of life beyond the airport dissipate. Shoes go in the bin, hands raise above the head, you retie shoelaces with one foot in the air while slipping a laptop back into it’s sleeve. The moment you step into LAX, you willingly enter a world confined within it’s boundaries — a reality shared by only those in the space between destinations.
The best case possible: 5 minutes end-to-end, and you walk out of security. As you readjust the straps of your backpack, you join the stream of other fourth dimension residents trickling towards the Starbucks, where you pay for your eight dollar latte without blinking. You check the clock on your screen but oddly, time has become liquid, understood only in relation to the number on your boarding pass.
There are two types of people at the airport. There are those who run, and those who don’t. Those who run are important. They keep the air circulating with their rushed movements, and are a comfort to those who don’t run. As long as there are people running, we can be sure that we’re headed somewhere. Those who don’t run simply move, their four wheel roller bags leading the way as they whip their head back and forth scanning for gate numbers. All nine terminals at LAX are notoriously tricky to navigate.
Lots of people say they cry on planes — something about the altitude. But truthfully, the most sacred time for a quiet sob is the idle wait at your gate. The penultimate stop before you board the aircraft and settle in. Sitting crosslegged on the carpet or leaning against a pillar, you can freely let your eyes water and blink away some tears. Wipe them gently with a Starbucks napkin. The best thing about airports is that no one will ask. We’ve all entered an agreement to make fleeting eye contact and look back down to our muffin or personal pizza. We will never see each other again.
There’s no bad reason to cry. I cry for myself, cry for heartbreak, I cry because my plane is delayed, I cry because there’s no McDonalds in this terminal — there is only a Burger King.
The massive floor to ceiling windows are the ideal direction to position your head and stare out through cloudy eyes. For theatrics, one may look down at a phone longingly, or take out a leather bound journal. A book — preferably a Penguin Classic — may be held open for the purposes of appearing learned and worldly. You want your fellow passengers to craft the right story about you in their heads.
There’s an announcement on the speaker, you toss the latte and shove your way into the crowd at the boarding doors. Scan boarding pass, walk down the ramp, don’t trip. You snap back into a realm of haste, annoyed at the family in front of you needlessly repositioning their carry ons and children, absolutely livid about an apparent runway delay, and suddenly craving tiny bags of pretzels. Your stomach drops, and you take off to the next dimension.