I seem to be spending quite a bit of time in and around airports lately, and I've come to the following conclusion: airports are schizophrenic places.

Emotions are high in those terminals, and "conflicted" doesn't even begin to cover it. You see, there is the excitement of the upcoming vacation or the dread of the next in a series of unending business trips. Either of these is heightened by the stress of the repetitive mental checklist: Did I pack my toothbrush? Did I remember the cell phone charger? Did I put both shoes in the bag, or did I forget to snag the left one out from under the bed?

And then there is the leaving part. Goodbye kisses that are distracted by the nagging feeling that you left your alarm clock on so that your upstairs neighbor, having been driven mad by your airport departure alarm of 5:00 a.m. 4 days straight, will have no choice but to slash the tires of your car as it sits in the driveway, patiently awaiting your return.

Or perhaps it's a return journey, in which case, you are battling the exhaustion mixed with the shear giddiness at the thought of your own bed, your own pillow. A temporary high, of course, because these daydreams are squelched by the announcement that your flight has been delayed for 4 more hours due to sun spots or some such cosmic anomaly.

I'm kind of surprised you really don't hear about more people just wigging out in airports: "Woman found roaming terminal, babbling incoherently, occasionally stopping to chant "3-1-1" in an inhumanely high-pitched voice as she tosses zip-lock baggies at passers-by."

And what about those left behind? Those dropping off loved ones at the gates to the gauntlet that is airport security, then having to find the way out to the wrong airport exit as the missing commences, slowly at first, but inevitable nonetheless. They have nothing to look forward to except traffic on the way home and an empty house at the end of the drive.

Of course, an empty house does mean sole possession of the Tivo remote... ;)