Here I am, sitting in the Minneapolis airport by myself sipping coffee.

And you know what?

I love it.

I love all airports.

Please tell me someone else out there has this strange love affair.

It’s not that they are a glorious valhalla of the world’s cuisine.

Or that everyone is so friendly you can’t help but smile.

Or that they smell like flowers.

Nor is it the lovely security that is always easy, stress-free, fast, and never the place where you are praying it isn’t your feet you’re smelling.

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Really, it’s the possiblity that makes me love airports.

I love that here is the open door to anywhere.

I could hop on a plane and jet off to Paris and be sipping this cafe-au-lait while people watching, with the Eiffel Tower out of the corner of my eye.

I could fly over to Belize for some reefs and ruins.

I could fly to Alaska to kayak among the glaciers and whales and polar bears.

I could fly to China to sleep on the Great Wall.

Airports are symbols of the most exciting times of my life: the first time I flew, when I went to Switzerland at 15 and officially got hooked on traveling.

The first time I flew alone, to the lake in California.

When I went to visit the Boyfriend in the Seattle–the first time I visited a boy and his family.

When the Boyfriend and I flew over the Cascades together–one of the most beautiful flights I’ve been on, and I was traveling with a boy for the first time.

When I went to Peru, terrified and alone, clutching my English-Spanish dictionary.

When I went to Southeast Asia with my cousin, with months of unplanned traveling and volunteering stretching seemingly endlessly ahead of us.

Despite the fact that I always get nervous going through security, I always end up eating junk food and getting sick, I love airports.

They represent the adventure of life, my dreams of seeing the world, and the forming of my independence. They have forced me out of my shell, warned me to keep my passport close at all times (and that leaving it in the bathroom of a Peruvian airport will only lead to bad things), helped me start seeing the great world, and showed me that where I come from deserves some love, too.

Being in an airport reminds me that life is the great world and that I’m just getting started.

Even if right now I’m just flying from Minneapolis to Denver.

A Year Ago Today…

Last year, on November 11, I was here:

Any guesses?

That’s right: the Loy Krathong festival in Chiang Mai, Thailand!

Really, one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen, as…cliche…as that sounds.  For those of you not in the know, Loy Krathong (loy kratone) is a festival in Thailand where you send a lantern into the sky or a boat (kratone) down the river, in deference to the gods. As you send your lanterns/boats out, you’re supposed to make a wish.

It started with the boats, but then spread throughout the land with lanterns to those who didn’t have water anywhere near.

It was beautiful, peaceful…and then suddenly like Fourth of July on crack. Imagine if we didn’t have any firework laws–and you’ll get the picture. We sent our lantern into the sky, then dove for cover as fireworks shot through the crowd.

AND this year?

I’m here:

That’s right, Vegas baby!

Very different from Thailand.

Yet, also not so different.

The festival was insane and somewhat terrifying; Vegas is the same. However, in the daylight Vegas is not a charming Thai city filled with old wats, monks, flower vendors and old city walls. No, in the daylight Vegas, without the lights, is garish and fake, and somehow even more frightening than at night. At night everything is bright and glossed over; even the vans depicting images of women-for-sale on the side look shinier. In the daylight, the vans look poorly cleaned and the women have dead eyes.

Despite that, I had fun in Vegas (even with my boyfriend’s family who are EXHAUSTING). I made about 40 buckaroos gambling (and lost a bit more than that) ate my weight at several buffets, and celebrated a wedding at a hotel where there was an anime convention.

And it’s nice to be able to say, “Only in Vegas….”

would a man wearing a giant dinosaur head be lurking in your wedding pictures.

Maybe the charm of Las Vegas is there’s nowhere like it, garishness and all.

Although really, seeing fake-Paris and fake-Venice kind of just makes me want to go to the real places even more…

Maybe next year. 🙂