Posts Tagged ‘LaDainian Tomlinson’

It may be because I didn’t fly on a plane until the age of 18, but I believe there is something mystical about airports. Agreeably, there is little awe inspiring in the security lines or the baggage checks. But the magic exists in the terminal. To start, the place is filled with a diverse group of people from all over the world, gathered in one place with one purpose, yet with no evident relational connections to each other. But people attempt to manufacture relationships with strangers or end up on the phone with people not physically present, making the terminal a fantastic place to people watch. Here you can overhear phrases such as “environmental services boot camp” or pick up shards of conversations like, “Cleavage is all over the place. It’s a bit different from Burlington.” Fascinating.

People crave relational connection and naturally want to share things they’re excited about, so out of the airport’s vacuum of relationship arise genuine moments of people connecting over stories. The terminal provides opportunities to meet people like Linda, a 40 year school speech therapy veteran, who just travelled to Budapest with her two adult daughters in search of relatives who had opted not to immigrate to the Unites States three generations ago. Linda beamed as she told me that she and her children ended up finding their Hungarian family and a vineyard their relatives own and how they drank wine out of old coke bottles for two weeks while communicating through gestures. How’s that for a vacation?

Perhaps my favorite part of the terminal is that it’s the closest thing our muggle world has to a Portkey. There are alphanumeric portals taking people worlds away to places like Miami, Beijing, Jackson Hole, Zurich, Honolulu and Halifax. Where the heck is Halifax anyway? And that’s the point. Walk a few yards this way and you could possibly hop on a plane to visit an old friend, a few feet that way and you can go to a country you cannot even locate on a map (if TSA would only allow gate hopping). But one gate always makes my heart leap while walking past or hearing a last call for boarding. You guessed it, San Diego. There’s no place like home, especially when you don’t live there anymore and aren’t scheduled to go back anytime soon. The idea of walking down that particular breezeway and  just a few hours later stepping out into the salty ocean air is always very appealing.

Perhaps my hometown allegiance can be blamed for the strong emotion I experienced upon arriving at Dulles International in Washington D.C. on Thursday to find a man wearing a LaDainian Tomlinson Jets shirt. LT, perhaps the greatest San Diego Charger of all time, recently signed with New York after spending nearly a decade in America’s Finest City. And in sports, fan-player loyalty is a powerful thing. Ask Red Sox Nation. Go ahead, ask ’em. So, as much as I like LaDainian, it still hurt to read the story this offseason that he had tattooed the Jets logo onto his leg. And while at Matt and Kristin’s last Sunday night, it didn’t seem right to see him sprinting around wearing green, helping to defeat the Patriots (which he never seemed to be able to do in a Bolts uniform). I will admit, it was kind of fun to see a healthy Tomlinson running around like a younger and less brooding version of himself. It caused me to believe this must be how spurned lovers feel when they see their “ex” genuinely happy in a new relationship. Although likely depressed yourself, somewhere inside you might just feel a hint of joy on their behalf. But being happy for someone you still have feelings for is quite different than being happy for their new boyfriend. And the last thing you want to see is a t-shirt that advertises the fact that your relationship was severed and a new one has begun. I think I audibly grunted upon seeing the shirt, realizing that the once happy athlete-fan relationship we once shared is now itself terminal. Yet, wanting to do the right thing, I tried to engage the guy in conversation. You know, to see how LT is doing, to make sure he’s being taken care of properly and appreciated by the Jets fans. Yeah, breaking up is tough. But here I go again, attempting to create some semblance of relationship in a place where none would seem to naturally exist.

But could it be that a relationship actually does exist between us all? I think beyond our fear, beyond our comfort zones, beyond our deep-seated individualism, we know that we are all connected. Maybe it is in the times we enter into a shared space such as the terminal, when we leave our homogenized neighborhoods and workplaces, that we feel the mystery of a deeper truth begging to be discovered. In Acts 2, the church is birthed after the “Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs” are gathered in one place with one purpose, but have no evident relational connections to each other. But after Peter tells them of Jesus, three thousand of these folks then become united in baptism into God’s one family, a reconciliation of the Genesis story of the Tower of Babel in which one united people was dispersed. Maybe one would disagree or prefer their individual bubble not be contaminated by outsiders, but I believe Mother Teresa was onto something when she said, “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” Like I said, there is something mystical about airports.