A friend picked me up to take me to the airport. She cracked the window, lit a cigarette and turned down the music. I was chatty, the pre-vacation adrenaline already swirling through my veins. It was just a long weekend, not quite the escape of a European sabbatical. But dreams of someone else's favorite restaurants and bars and best most favorite coffee, dessert, sushi and views were already dancing in my head.
"You're gonna write about sitting in that airport bar, aren't you?" I have been vocal about my distaste for predictability, but in that moment I felt known. And predictably, I do love an airport bar.
Fuck the VIP airport lounges. There are plenty of outlets, sure, but everyone is plugged in, head phoned and sinking into their leather club chairs. The silence is one of productivity, not one the welcomes the curiosity of an energetic traveler.
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I wandered around my terminal, waiting for a T.G.I. Friday's or a Chili's Too to reveal itself and a stool to invite me up to the bar. Those lucky enough to be taking a flight from Terminal D at DFW can belly up to III Forks or Reata for a glass or a shot of something. And of course, there next to me was a fellow lone traveler who would end up on my flight. Her leaving my home for hers, and me vice versa. Something in these transient moments between strangers feels other worldly in the airport, like she is an alien who I would trust with my deepest secrets. That is the power of the airport bar.
We both order white wine and joke about how much better cheap Pinot Grigio tastes in the airport. I look down and see that we have nearly all ordered the same thing, walking the path of bougie traveling ladies who have come before us.
My new bar buddy tells me her impressions of Dallas. "Are all the men such peacocks in this town?" she asks. It doesn't take long to figure out she has spent more of her free time in Dallas, away from her conference and at Charlie Palmer's bar in the Joule Hotel. She describes to me that elusive Southern specimen found in luxury accommodations. Perfectly dressed, mildly eccentric, a bold watch or pocket square to finish. "I thought they were all gay, but there was always a perfectly placed compliment or hand on the small of my back."
"So nice. Everyone there was so nice, but I can't tell if you people mean it," she sort of trails off. "Does that matter?" I ask her directly. "I don't know yet," she responds. I buy the round and assure her, that we do, in fact, mean it. And to come back real soon.