The Airport

Dimitar Vangelov
4 min readAug 16, 2021
Photo by Karl Köhler on Unsplash

It was 20:45 on the last day of May. The spot I had deliberately selected to stand at allowed me to observe the landing of the flight I was awaiting. There was still some time before I needed to go to the airport’s exit and I spent it watching a few more planes come and go, which I had been doing for the past two hours. I pondered about the people they carried towards or away from their homes and loved ones. Some of them found a bit of both in either way, I thought, but that wasn’t so initially. When one first sets foot at the airport, he views this place as a border between the unknown and home, between opportunity and lost potential, between happiness and misery. And though it remains uncertain which the right side of that border is, the departing passengers outnumber those arriving here. If you asked them why they’re leaving, the words ‘money’, ‘standard of living’ and ‘education’ would be an inseparable part of their answer.

I remember as if it was yesterday when my father sent me off at the airport. He drove me there in the middle of the night, passing through the center of a city which was usually so full of life, but at this exact moment seemed completely deprived of it. Dad accompanied me to the last point allowed for him and barely managed to give me thumbs up and to smile through tears as I climbed up that elevator leading to the security checks. His tears, I thought, were incited by sheer joy about the future lying ahead of me, but were also begging the question whether I’ll ever come back. Though he was unable to hear it, my racing heart skipped so many beats as if to say in a code of its own — Yes dad, I will.

Having been on both sides of that border, I now realise that emigration in our case is not so much of an indication that there’s something wrong with the country, but rather with the flaws of all humans. My country is not at war; poverty, though a valid reason for some, is certainly not an issue for a significant portion of the emigrants. No, the fact that all arguments for leaving are based on numbers is reflective of our own nature to always demand more and to blame external factors instead of our incessant discontent. Emigration in our case is based on comparison of figures which confirm what we want to hear — that there is a problem with the place and not with us; that somewhere else is better than here. The reasons to stay are founded on emotions, which have a very poor record against statistics. Any family and relationship is doomed in the face of a bigger wage or a higher ranked university if a change of location is necessary. A mother won’t sell her children, but she will pay her life’s savings to send them thousands of kilometers away. One may not buy love, but people do sell it at a starting price of £8/hour.

My contemplations were interrupted by the passengers that finally started to show up — some carried suitcases, others only a backpack, some jumped in someone’s hugs, others in a cab. I sought through the crowd for her, but for a consecutive night I couldn’t find the eyes of the girl which several months earlier promised me with her last kiss that she would return at the end of May. Memories flashed me back to this emotional parting in which we both vowed for an even more passionate love when we meet again. The last word I said to her was “Hey, …”, which was immediately replied with “Love” as this was our own way to say “I love you!” Before I knew it she had entered the airport. We waved at each other on either side of the window seconds later and I swear the intensity of her eyes was already gone. She had left the fire burning at the border, but it was steadily going out with the timer set for tonight.

I looked around and the parking lot had emptied. It was only me and the compassionately looking security officer that were still there. We exchanged a nod and he observed what seemed like the initiation of a ritual to bury love as I laid a bouquet on top of the pile of flowers left to decompose in the bin. With tears in my eyes I advanced toward my own car and thought how this place resembled a graveyard — a cemetery for all relationships, slain by ambitions, green pieces of paper, and the deceptive promise of a better life. For all the things the airport symbolizes, it is a monument of our dissatisfaction with what we possess, a highway for the ones that want more. It’s a war we’re leading and though I had just lost yet another battle, I still believe we can come out victorious. To do so we must rely on the only weapon we possess — love.

I was about to unlock my car when I heard two feet stop their run right behind me. My breath immediately halted, my heart elevated to the throat. A familiar panting voice took some time to whisper: “Hey, …”

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