Distant Glasses: Ted Stevens International


Joshua Park, Nerd

We interrupt this running of “ADN: Spain” to bring you the one-off “ADN: AK” (a.k.a a seasonally appropriate segue in which I can transition to talks about my spring break trip). That’s right; I’ll get to talk the City of Angels after this, but we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Why don’t we start at the beginning?

I envision a baseline train of thought of one’s addressing of his or hers potential spring break trip to Los Angeles as being one that is unmistakably optimistic and electrified with excitement. If I had retained the person I was two days, twelve hours, and twenty-nine minutes after hearing that very same news, I would wholeheartedly agree with that statement. However, a four days, four hours, and ten minutes wiser Joshua Park, half-dead, laying on his back on seemingly nothing and with a mind wandering endlessly with no focus within, would probably have given my past self a corkscrew pile driver to the face if he had ever met him.

You see, my four days, four hours, and ten minutes more experienced self would’ve probably realized that I had naively omitted a life-or-death detail upon hearing my parents’ announcement of our vacation due to my excitement. My foolish ignorance on not bothering to hear what time we’re leaving would lead to my circumstance in which I’m pondering intensely on what in the world I was doing as a half-awake vegetable struggling pathetically to try and gather any luggage I had at 4:00 AM in the Diamond Hotel at Anchorage. I should’ve realized this sooner since this was a tragedy not unfamiliar to me; in fact, I would say I had it as routine whenever my family decided to go on vacation. A routine so frequent within my traveling experiences that it was worthy of a title; the “Travel Blues” or of an alternative title that I think is just as fitting; “An Embodiment of the Regret of My Stupid Choices.” Perhaps Anchorage’s unforgivingly calm, deep blue aesthetic at night helps with my common run-ins of “wanting to lay in bed until the end of time.” I would not classify that sensation as a bad thing, but to someone intending to travel to any manner of location, the “Pre-Travel Blues” are as severe and obstructing as a flight canceled right after you check in your luggage. Except this time it’s worse since you can’t blame any flight company for your unfortunate stagnation in transportation, the only things standing by your despairing side would be your timeless “Pre-Travel Blues” buddies “laziness” and “procrastination”, both of them not so much as giving you a silent pat on the shoulder. Thankfully, to combat much of the “Pre-Travel Blues” symptoms, I had my parents who would regretfully carry my half-dead body into a taxi and provide multiple attempts at jolting me awake (by the rather unorthodox method of slapping my face, I might add) as soon as we arrived at Ted Stevens International.

I confess that I do not remember as much I want to of Ted Stevens International Airport. As a teen familiar with taking brief trips throughout the internal layout of the facilities, I’m able to garner a couple of essential characteristics about the place due to a reluctant, but also perhaps, an inevitable recalling of striking repetition. Ted Stevens International is quite big, but to one well-versed with experience of other sizable U.S. airports such as JFK or Seattle International would find the activity at Ted Stevens perhaps hauntingly quiet and lulling, particularly late at night, which is the time we usually choose to embark towards our vacations. It’s quite a calm place in my opinion, but then again, such a characteristic combined with my usual bout of “Pre-Travel Blues” wouldn’t leave me much to care about thinking of such airport descriptions, only to find some vacant gate seat and virtually die for the next fifteen to twenty minutes. To the few observations that I do miraculously remember, let alone willingly achieve, about Ted Stevens International are very primordial. I remember the warm, polished stone floors that carpeted the main facility, Warren Carther’s quite stunning glass works at the central plaza, the hanging vintage planes soaring vigil above the terminal halls, and the fascinating native Alaskan artworks displayed along the airport walls. The array of taxidermied animals that looked onward serenely throughout many of the airport’s locations were also quite memorable, one of my particular favorites being an albino beaver standing next to a piece of wood.

Yep, there it is.

Any other detail I try to remember seems to result in a dream-like blur, that is details that come from my departures from the airport. In my opinion, as a lucky Alaskan, the return trips to Ted Stevens International are where it shows its heart. At that point, my “Pre-Traveler Blues” have long since disappeared, and I can come back to Alaska to an almost completely different airport. The dreamy, abstract Ted Stevens International becomes replaced with one welcoming, warm, and utterly nostalgic. To me, this is what Ted Stevens International represents. A platform to use to launch yourself out to the world, but also one that will take no compromise in the wait to welcome you back. It will be there for a very long time, forever vigil, forever embracing, and forever home.