The Suitcase Lady


March 27, 2018, 8:52 pm

I came across an elegant description of airports in Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s book The Vine of Desire. The setting was LAX, but the words resonate universally.

There’s a certain magic in airports. Loci of arrivals and departures, they make the air crackle and surge. Worries circle overhead in airports like disoriented birds — possibilities also. In airports, the horizon is always golden–but eminently reachable. In a minute you might be pulled up into it, released of gravity. One can take on a new body here, shrug off old identities.

Airports, like their predecessors, the grand, old train stations, are gateways to new adventures. While most modern American airports lack the opulence of past depots, some do have monumental spaces. Denver’s main terminal mimics the front range of the Rocky Mountains behind it. The peak like roofs are an engineering marvel of stretched canvas.

Denver’s airport was a subject of national ridicule when it was being built. Critics scoffed that the location was remote, the roof wouldn’t last and the baggage system was a disaster. The naysayers were proven wrong on all points.

With family on both coasts, I fly frequently. Bad weather does happen, and some airport delays are inevitable. So I have mused on the best airport in which to be stranded. My vote goes to Minneapolis. It has a real bookstore and some affordable food. On the plus side for people who don’t like to sit and wait, it has miles of hiking trails, a.k.a. gates. One concourse is shaped exactly like a gigantic electric plug.

My least favorite airport in America is Reagan in Washington D.C. The smell of stale grease from fast food concessions plus crumbling walls and floors are not conducive to happy traveling.

Albuquerque’s International Sunport is my favorite American airport. It’s perched on a ridge looking over the Rio Grande valley. The main hall  is a beautifully crafted tribute to Pueblo architecture and is filled with Native American art. No other airport in America that I know of exudes such a sense of place……except Key West.

The Key West Airport will not be winning any awards for its architecture. But when your plane touches down, you are immediately greeted by a large sign which proclaims, “Welcome to the Conch Republic”. Right now, I could use another country, one in which I am already a citizen.


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