I amused myself the other day when I realized I’ve spent a lot of time at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport in the last few months, without actually going anywhere. Not even to pick people up or drop them off. Just there.
A few weeks ago I was meeting a good friend of mine who was flying home from India to San Francisco. One of her stops on her 28-hour flying journey was Chicago for a few hours. She had a three-hour layover, so why not grab some coffee and catch up.
It’s not the first time I’ve done that. A long layover is a great time to catch up with friends I don’t see often enough. Sometimes there’s enough time to actually head over to the Hilton across the street from the terminals and have a proper meal, and sometimes it’s coffee and questionable food choices at a food kiosk in the ticketing area. But the good company is always pleasant enough to overlook the slim offerings.
It’s actually a bit odd to walk through an airport without any baggage. Casually strolling without the stress of getting through security and the gate.
A few months ago I was there on my own, scouting locations for a shoot. Taking the tram to the International Terminal 5, taking a few photos of the arrival and departure signs, then back to domestic and exploring possible shots there as well. Up on the roof of one of the parking garages to see if the control tower could be worked in. It was an unusual few hours.
The Saturday evening I was visiting with my friend during her layover, the airport seemed more deserted than usual. I passed very few people on my walk back to the CTA terminal to take the train back downtown. As I turned the corner of one empty corridor, I heard the most beautiful violin music in the distance. Excellent acoustics as the notes bounced along the hard desolate surfaces.
I stopped for a moment to enjoy the performance and made a photograph. You can barely make out what turned out to be an elderly Asian man at the end of the corridor. I dropped a dollar in his case along to join the paper currency from many far off places.
Sometimes an airport can be a calm and relaxing place.