I was 21 when I took my first flight, a commuter jet to Boston, and it rumbled and shook and I held my first passport close to my chest. My second flight was more substantive — Boston to Brussels, the one where I actually needed the passport — and since then there have been dozens just like that one, soaring over Europe, leaving windmill imprints behind my eyelids. Layovers, turbulence, crying jags in British Airways business class when a friend and I chose to watch “The Notebook,” not realizing how it, combined with little sleep, would leave us red-faced and ashamed, but gleeful too. Buzzed flights, productive flights, painful flights; missed connections in Swiss airports where no matter how fast I ran I knew I’d never make it; Heathrow runways where I took my time, confident I was already so late, only to be surprised by a delay that meant I would get home on time. Flights where I welled up looking out the window, wondering if I’d ever see him again, wondering why an ocean has to be so big. Dozens of short flights, and one long flight to and from Sri Lanka, where, at three hours in, I realized I had only hit the 25% mark; where I and some other passengers came down with food poisoning. Flights where I fell asleep even before takeoff; flights where my boss had pulled out her laptop and typed away, so I, in turn, did the same. Flights where I tuned out, and some where I tuned in.
The airport in Vermont is a charmer. Currently under construction in one area, once you get through security the bathrooms are literal port-a-potties, with thin painted plywood built around them to give the illusion of a room; with a running sink in which you must pump your foot in order to actually access the water. Whatever. We ate lunch at The Skinny Pancake and waited, and waited, as weather delays in Newark put our plans on hold.
The thing is, I never mind waiting at airports. It’s not like there’s nothing to do — one can always buy books and magazines, or food, or martinis with fat olives that wake you up three hours later with a ring of salt burning your throat. There’s always ample opportunity for people-watching, for catching up on Twitter, for reading a type of magazine you would never purchase but were delighted to find on an empty seat. And there’s always time for reflection, for deciding which memory from your trip was your favorite, the one you’ll hold close always.
For me it was this moment, sitting with my mom and my sister on a deck on Lake Champlain, feeling like summer is mere moments away.