Thursday, October 02, 2003

I'm 27

9 months down, 9 months to go.
Fly Delta Jets

It's October, and this weekend I will be 27, the age rock stars die. Quick, name as many tragically dead rock starts as you can: KurtCobainJanisJoplinJimi HendricksBrianJonesJimMorrison. All 27 when they bit it, as if this was the age that divided them from ever getting old, as if this is the last year you're allowed to be wild and free and alone.

Everything outside in Georgia is swollen with seeds, on the verge of bursting with new life. That's because we don't really get a winter here, but rather an autumn more like a New England Spring. Strange flowers bloom overnight, and while the pumpkins and apples are shipped in from other regions, I saw the orange trees in Florida last weekend working on sweets that won't be ready for a good while yet. After this wet mild autumn in Atlanta will come a winter where it probably won't snow, where the puddles only *might* freeze over. And then the real spring will just be another wet, muddy fall leading into June, nine months from now, when the sun will come back again in full force and I will feel happy to see it.

I went to Florida on business, flew into the panhandle and out again on the same date. While I was traveling, I had time to reflect on how much I love the Atlanta airport.

The airport is 6 different buildings, Gates A B C D E and Terminal. These buildings stand free of each other above ground so that the airplanes can drive all the way around them, giving ATL the most space for people to connect with their flights as possible. Below ground, the buildings are connected by a long, wide, brightly lit passage. Inside this passage is a train that goes to all 6 buildings, long conveyer-belt moving walkways if you don't like trains, and a lot of public art.

The Terminal building connects to MARTA (the subway system in town), and they've got it set up so that if you ride the train you can pick up your Delta ticket right at MARTA and then scoot to your flight as quickly as possible. This bias toward Delta, based in Atlanta, is also visible when you fly into ATL at night and a giant red neon sign informs you to FLY DELTA JETS. I wouldn't, if I were you, though; they're now no longer serving food, but trying to sell it to you at prices that would make a movie theater blush.

The Terminal only has a few gates, mainly it's the building where you check your baggage and get your ticket. There's also a big center court with a few places to eat and shop. But mostly you go through the Terminal to get through security so you can make it to gates A-E.

This is brilliant security, by the way; Atlanta was up on all the international measures long before most of the rest of the states because of the 1996 Olympics.

Once you get through security, you have a choice: Conveyor-belt walkways or the train. It's always a tough choice for me.

The train is always cleancleanclean and has metal poles and strapser staps for holding or a bench at either end to sit on. And it announces everything in a clean woman's voice, and when it takes off there's this lurch of inertia that always makes me grin, I love the way the train speeds from one building to the next, I love watching tourists fall over themselves, I love the train.

But the walkways are nice cheifly because Atlanta uses the wide hallways to exhibit a lot of art. Right now there's all these stone statues from Africa in between building A and Terminal. They're beautiful; my favorite was of green stone, at least seven feet long, and was a woman swimming. Gorgeous.

Don't believe it's one of the best airports in the world? Look here:

Best Airports
Worst Airports

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