Being nowhere

I am currently at Newark International Airport with two of our Ph.D. students, waiting at the gate for a United Airlines flight that will take us to Glasgow, Scotland. For the next week I shall be immersed in the world of the annual conference of SIGCHI (the Special Interest Group of Computer/Human Interfaces, which is one of the ACM (Association of Computing Machinery) SIGs (…)).

Sorry, nearly got caught in a recursion there. Where was I?

Oh right. Newark Airport. Looking around, I realize that I am situated in one of those odd liminal places that exists only to come from some other location in order to go to some other other location.

This is a place, but not a “place”. After all, nobody is really here because they want to be here. In fact, they are here precisely because they want to be someplace else.

Train stations, bus depots, taxi stands, these are all liminal places. But airports are different because of the sheer amount of time one tends to spend in them.

The nature of air travel requires you to wait before you can depart — and sometimes to wait a very long time. Being in airports may be the longest amount of time that I spend essentially being nowhere.

One Response to “Being nowhere”

  1. My dad used to design and project manage shop refits including several shops in airports and train stations. He always enjoyed telling people that he was traveling to ‘ airport’. People would always assume that he was then going somewhere else in the city. No, he would fly into the airport, walk around the shop and then get a flight back again without leaving the airport. Another time he flew to London, went around 3 tubestations then flew home. So maybe not correct to say ‘nobody’, though I accept that folk like him are very rare.

    PS, enjoy the (veg) haggis while you are over here :).

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