Yesterday I got lost at Nashville International Airport. I didn’t think it was possible.

We lived in Donelson near the airport for years. I learned to fly out of BNA. I know the runways. I know the terrain from the air. I could fly over my house. I’ve landed a tiny Cessna 150 in between heavy jets while watching out for wake turbulence.

Pre-911 we used to load up the kids, drive over and park to watch aircraft land at night for the light show, blue runways, red and green strobes and glaring landing spots. Now we’d probably get arrested for it if we could even get that close.

It didn’t matter.

Now, in Chattanooga, we’re just as close to Atlanta as Nashville and there are far more direct flights. I can take a shuttle from here so we haven’t been to the Tune Town airport in a while.

I’ve long since given up flying in the front seat. It’s cheaper, though less satisfying, to fly as cargo and leave the thinking to professionals, as well as the bills. But still, I thought I knew what I was doing in my old home base.

Standing still is left behind

Though the runways and gates haven’t changed, the tower is still in the same place and security wasn’t crowded, I had a more basic problem. I couldn’t get there!

It should have been easy to drop Suzie, circle the loop and swing into short-term parking, I was suddenly lost after I pulled away from the terminal. I couldn’t even see the terminal.

Standing in my way was the new, huge, improved parking structure. It took two tries to realise the entrance to short-term parking was on the other side of the loop from where it had been. When I made it in the gate the lot was full, not a space in sight.

I ended up parking far, far away in the land of shuttle buses. I walked toward the signs through a field of SUVs, down a long sidewalk and into the dim lower lair of the new parking structure, lost the entire time.

Found at last

Finally, after a long trek, I saw the original parking level folded into the massive structure like a chip in cookie dough. I knew where I was. Everything looked right.

Besides a few new art pieces, things looked back to normal. Then a Starbucks appeared in exactly the place I’d always dreamed of one with a long glass wall giving an unrestricted view of the security area. I could sit in designer leather comfort with caffeine in hand while I waited for my daughter to walk into view.

It was awesome, both new and improved.

Now all I had to do was hike back across the hot tarmac, retrieve the car, navigate to the new short-term parking entrance, hit the restroom, order a latte and relax – which I did.


Well, all except the latte part. After decades of trying I still haven’t managed to seduce Suzie into the dark world of warm, creamy caffeination. She still drinks cold, dark, diet stuff. It only took two more stops and a trip around the terminal to discover her favorite beverage, Diet Dr. Pepper, was within sight of my starting position.

Finally, I sat down with my latte and took a deep, relaxing breath, self-congratulatory at having done all of this with a solid fifteen minutes to spare. I raised my reward to my lips in expectation – and heard a familiar happy greeting.

Yep, my daughter’s flight from Orlando was fifteen minutes early.

In my defense, I only cast one longing look back at the smooth, cool leather as I hefted a heavy carry on down to baggage.

Keeping Up

The only certainty in life is change. I decided to look on my airport adventure as an education instead of feeling hopelessly out of date.

I don’t have to be cool anymore. I have children to do that. Like there was ever hope.

Keeping current never stops. Reinvention is as necessary as breathing. The world changes. I change. So far I’m keeping up.

What I have to remind myself is that my worth isn’t tied to my fashion sense. My value doesn’t fluctuate with my slang vocabulary. My significance doesn’t rely on account balances.

What matters

In the end, what matters is to be with those you love.

Even if it means schlepping ponderous bags worthy of pack mules and Sherpa guides across the parking garage while my girls titter about the flight.

Given the load, I figure if I can just keep up with them, I’m doing okay.


Photo: BNA by dsearls via Flickr

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