Why travel? Even when I hate it, I love it.
I dreaded my last trip from Seoul to Aberdeen, because the flight was with Russia’s economy airline Aeroflot. It had been a year since I was last home and I was tired of travelling, new faces and new places, I just wanted to be home. Instead, a two day journey lay ahead.
As the movies on the plane were in Russian, I took a second-hand book from my backpack and started to read. The book wasn’t great, but it didn’t need to be. As I read On Love by Alain de Botton, it reminded me of all the people who I’d ever loved or longed for on my travels. I spent the next few hours living in my memories. A previous reader had highlighted passages where I could find no special meaning, I wondered about the unique magic, memories, people and places On Love had conjured for them.
As we flew over Siberia sometime in the late afternoon, the sun’s glow stretched across the cabin, giving the journey the glamour of another era. We touched down at Sheremetyevo airport, Moscow. I washed my face in the toilets, put on mascara and changed into fresh clothes.
That was when I felt it, the feeling I only get in airports, despite being a dishevelled TEFL teacher, I felt glamorous in my anonymity. I could be from any country, have any job, be anyone, be no one. In turn, I imagined wild personal histories for everyone I saw.
Despite the airports attempts to be blandly international, everything spoke of the country beyond the terminal doors, from the restaurant menus advertising borscht, to the beautiful women and unsmiling staff. I finished On Love and left it on a seat for someone else to read, then spent the remaining hour imagining what lay in the snow-capped forest beyond the runway, full of joy for travelling once again.