It has been just over 12 months since my last overseas adventure. In the past two days I have found myself filled with a certain familiarity that comes with the rituals of being a long time traveller.
I have also come to question why airports now seem to fill me with a sense of uneasiness, when in the past and certainly growing up, they used to fill me with a sense of excitement and eager anticipation. What I’ve discovered is that airports seem to amplify an aspect of the human race that I am uncomfortable with; we are all so intent on finding our own way that we have little consideration or time for those around us.
As I sat in my own world at LA airport after the rituals of disembarking from a 14 hour flight, collecting my luggage, getting my next boarding pass, checking in my luggage once more and then going through all the screening and security that has become so common place in our airports these days, I looked around at the melting pot that surrounded me. How anonymous we all are in airports, how little interaction we have with each other, especially given we are all connected by a common experience. I was no different; I sat in my own world, interacting and engaging with only those I needed to as part of the airport ritual.
I then saw a couple pass me by with a dog on a lead. My heart skipped a beat. I knew I needed to approach them and ask them their story. I knew if I didn’t have the courage to come out of my own airport traveller’s bubble, I would regret it. I watched them decide where they would sit and they chose a place near a window looking out to the tarmac. I somehow think they chose this with a direct consideration of what I came to know was Rocco in mind.
I packed away my computer and unpacked my camera and headed towards them. With their backs to me I excused myself and introduced myself. People don’t expect you to approach them at airports. We are all strangers in our own travelling bubbles and there is a certain trepidation that fills people when you speak to them outside the airport rituals!
The next 15 minutes saw each of us open up and talk of our experiences and our lives. Strangers sharing stories and finding a common connection, all the while Rocco seemingly oblivious to him being the silent facilitator, the common denominator.
Rocco was on his way back to New York with his Mum and Dad. He had been visiting LA to see family with his Mum and Dad. This was his second time on a plane and he looked calm and seemingly familiar wi.th the rituals. perhaps he was just gauging his parents' energy and somehow knew that this was just part of the process. Rocco was now part of a loving family. His Mum and Dad found him in an animal shelter. He was one of far too many dogs who had started his life on a puppy farm. He ended up either not cutting the grade at the puppy farm or note being sold; the result being, he was sent to an animal shelter where he was destined to be euthanised if not found a 'forever' home. Thankfully for Rocco he found his forever home.
What started off as asking about Rocco soon turned into discovering a much bigger story. The story of two people who fell in love. Having come from different parts of the US, they were on their way back to New York after visiting family in LA. Rocco was now very much part of that family, part of that love.
Next thing you know my flight was being called and I said my goodbyes to three individuals who had helped break down my airport walls.
It was such a novelty for me to see a dog in an airport, doing what so many of us take for granted and something virtually unseen in the airports of Australia. What started off as seeing a dog in an airport manifested into something much greater, a dog which broke down this airport travellers’ bubble….…..
Thank you Rocco.