Monday, June 07, 2010

Airport goodbyes

It can be hard to say goodbye at an airport. I did it Saturday (bravely) when my son left for eight weeks exploring Europe. It's hard because the sense of possibility is almost tangible at an airport. You can step from the ticket window and move towards almost anywhere in the world. It's a little strange to give someone a hug, knowing they'll wake up in an entirely different place and you'll wake up the next day back where you started.

I remember when it was a big deal to watch planes take off. When I was a kid, we would watch while my dad flew away on business trips. Did we cry because he was leaving or because we were staying behind? As you watch the plane lift off the runway, your heart might lift a little too, pulled upwards and outwards by the thought of flight.

Of course, the world has changed and in Toronto, there's no way to watch the people you love walk onto the planes that will fly them off to places where difference is possible. Difference is never certain: many people seek the familiar wherever they go. Business travelers move from one conference room to another. The green highway signs in Toronto look like the same signs in California or Tennessee. Still, a trip in a plane tells you that the world is wide and difference happens.

I wonder what happens if you drive away from the airport and imagine instead, just for a moment, that you have just stepped off a plane and into new possibilities. What differences might you find as you made the trip to your now unfamiliar home?

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