Sunday, July 19, 2009

Sitting in an Airport, Waiting

It's always funny how different events and spaces come to take on different meanings as we grow older. Right now, I am sitting in the airport, and as I have spent significantly more time in airports over the past year than ever before, they are starting to take on different meaning for me. When I was younger, we drove for almost all our family vacations. In fact, I can distinctly remember two flights that we took, though I know there were more. Both of those flights were to fun places - LA (the Spring Break we went to Disneyland!) and Phoenix (which typically seems like seniors paradise, but with my Oma's pool and all the fun mini-golf courses, this was always a fun place to visit). Going to the airport as a child was an adventure, and it meant vacation was on the way.

Over the past year, my flights have pretty much all been related to the preparation for my MBA. It was exactly a year ago that I was in Toronto, visiting the Ivey campus at the University of Western Ontario. Though that trip involved some sightseeing as well, there were also class visits, networking and a coffee visit with an old friend who works at the company I want to work for one day. My most recent flight was down to Washington and followed by a two-hour drive to Charlottesville, where I had the interview which has pretty much determined the course of the rest of my life.

Though this current trip is purely personal (wedding in Iowa), as I sit here on my laptop, I am reflecting on the reality that when I start strategy consulting, regular time in airports will become the norm. And airports will officially make the transition from holding the anticipation of a fun vacation to my new life out of a suitcase.

Even though business travel is different, there's still something exciting about flying somewhere. On this trip, I fly through Denver, and am excited as I have never been in the Denver airport before. Seeing new places and experiencing small nuances of culture is something that will never grow old for me. I remember being down in C'ville for my interview and talking to the hotel clerk with her thick, Southern accent. There's something fresh about being in a place where people talk differently, and different chain restaurants adorn the road.

For now, though, I am excited about a week of focusing on relieving someone else's stress rather than thinking of the steadily approaching "final" departure date from Edmonton. I also view this week as a miniature immersion into American culture. My friend is marrying an American, so obviously his family and all his friends will be American. Hopefully this week, I will see what exactly are these key differences between Canadians and Americans that all the Canadians talk about, but my new German friend says don't really exist.

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