Four years ago I sat in the Cincinnati airport one night. I don’t travel all the time for work, but I’ve flown to Cincinnati more than any other place. It’s an ok airport. I’m a man of simple pleasures; it’s clean and not crowded, and very easy to get in and out of. But its size also works against it.
Four years ago I was very different. I worked in a different role at a different company. Our miscarriage hadn’t happened yet nor was my daughter was born.
Four years ago the Cubs were still in the midst of their century long championship drought, but things were looking positive.
Four years ago in Cincinnati, I sat alone at my gate for hours. A ground stop at O’Hare put me in this predicament. There wasn’t much to do in the Cincinnati airport in 2016 and there’s only slightly more to do in 2020. My coworkers flew Delta and were in the other terminal and I didn’t have their cell phone numbers. I passed the time walking to the end of the terminal and back. Pokemon Go was just released and I spent my time finding pokemon as I slowly walked back and forth, while the cleaning crew slowly vacuumed all the empty gates.
Four years ago the crowd at the gate slowly thinned out as there seemed to be no end in sight with our delay. Since all the restaurants were closed, the captain came out with the snack cart and gave us snacks and drinks.
Four years ago I sat at this gate in Cincinnati in a nearly empty airport terminal while CNN was playing on every television. It was the final night of the Republican National Convention and Donald Trump was delivering his acceptance speech. Travel delays are not fun. Sitting in a cavernous building with dozens of televisions playing his fiery and visceral acceptance speech, made me want to weep. But I wasn’t sure if the emotions were from travel fatigue, the fact I was alone with about a dozen passengers trying to get back to Chicago, or if I was sad that this man was given a national stage to spit his bilious views.
Four years ago everyone at the gate was shaking their head. We all ran out of websites to check and feeds to scroll so we craned our necks to the televisions. I cursed the storm in Chicago because it forced me to watch something I had no intention of watching.
Four years ago we finally took off at about 11:30pm EST. It was the scariest flight I’ve been on because it was a smaller, regional jet and the weather in Chicago was still rough. As we began our descent into O’Hare, the plane violently shook left and right. I clutched my arm rest as I’ve never done before or since. We were so close to landing and I didn’t want any more drama on this very long night. Even as our wheels touched the ground, I felt the play sway. I didn’t feel relief until we were at the gate.
Four years ago I’d like to say things were different than they are now. But in many ways they’re not. Colin Kaepernick started kneeling, but yet we have yet to address those systemic issues he was calling attention by with his protests. The Cubs won the World Series, but have yet to really do much since then. My hope is that the next four years can be inclusive, and forward thinking. The next four years won’t make everyone happy and in fact, they may make people more belligerent, which is not what anyone wants. However, we need to course correct from our current trajectory. If things don’t change, this country will regress in ways that’ll be harmful not only to ourselves, but to our neighbors, and the generations behind us. Let’s do the right thing for not only the next four years, but the next forty and 400 years.