“When feeling sad at home, I have often boarded a train or airport bus and gone to Heathrow, where, from an observation gallery in Terminal 2 or from the top floor of the Renaissance Hotel along the north runway, I have drawn comfort from the sight of the ceaseless landings and takeoffs of aircraft.”

– Alain de Botton, The Art of Travel

I like being in transit in the airport. I like the few hours of layover, not long enough to do anything proper, but not short enough to just while the time away. I do not love it. It is not an ecstatic feeling – waiting, sometimes in boredom, always in helplessness, for the gate to open, the boarding call to sound, the plane to arrive.

But the lack of agency that such transit engenders is liberating.


“If we find poetry in the service station and the motel, if we are drawn to the airport or the train carriage, it is perhaps because, despite their architectural compromises and discomforts, despite their garish colours and harsh lighting, we implicitly feel that these isolated places offer us a material setting for an alternative to the selfish ease, the habits and confinement of the ordinary, rooted world.”

The transit is also pregnant – a prelude. Surrounded by people whose near futures are packed into a suitcase, nowhere is sonder more palpable than in the airport. Each person could have come from anywhere; each person could be going to any place.


“The destination was not really the point. The true desire was to get away – to go, as he concluded, ‘anywhere! anywhere! so long as it is out of the world!’”

If Changi was not so far away, I would go there a lot more often to stravaig my uninspiration away.


One thought on “Transit

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About Mel

I dreamt I was a whale.