There's something about an airport that suggests an Other world.
The way the buildings seem to raise up from nowhere. The cavernous check-in and baggage drop halls with their meandering lines that snake all around even when you're the only ones in the queue - to cut under the ropes would be to break the illusion. The absurd ritual of the security check - belt, money, shoes - all into the tray. The fluorescent glow of the indoor lighting, punctuated by half hearted neon commas. The sudden move from the sealed biosphere to the refreshing chill outside, where you are greeted by the whirring engine and the dark of night.
For the first time I found myself able to take in this moment - normally I'm focused on getting up the stairs, into the seat and ensconced therein for the flight. This time I enjoyed the view.
I wouldn't say it was a classic vista, but with the jet black of the night and the cut of the breeze there was something fascinating about the prairie of concrete that disappeared into the horizon. In the distance warning and hazard lights flashed - sky beacons for unwary planes and signals of life in the dark.
I felt myself drawn to the distance, to the idea of travel, to a landscape that was so completely alien. The sparseness, with arcane geometric runes delineating spaces and a precision flatness, unbalanced the horizon. These were no rolling hills, no jutting cliffs, nor even was this the hurly-burly of the urban grind. For a moment the minutiae of the aircraft stood out to me, and more than before this was a spacecraft - amazing in what it could achieve (an illusion repealed when it almost crashed reversing - but this was for the future), clever in details like the flex of the tails fins, and the gateway for adventure.
I found such twisted optimism important. This was a journey back from a dark place, a journey that had been about saying goodbye and being sad. Now that had been done, this was to be done.
On the flight back the lights from cities could be seen all the way as I hugged my wife. It felt good.