But it wasn't a crazy, busy airport with people sprawled over benches and curled up on the floor, people dumped from overbooked flights or waiting for bad weather to clear or facing canceled plans. Nope, it was a small, airport with just me, a mother's lounge couch and the cleaning staff.
Eerie. And not at all comfortable. And not really "sleeping" in an airport since I didn't really sleep.
But I had nowhere to go when my flight landing in the wee early morning hours, and given that I had to be back in less than three hours anyway, it wasn't worth venturing out into an unknown city to try and find something more accommodating. So gingerly announced my intentions to stay overnight in the airport, wondering if this tiny place with only two rooms for the gates even stayed open all night. I was graciously led to the mother's lounge, where the lights turned off and a surprisingly soft (yet uncomfortable) couch offered a better bed than the benches in the hall. I had my own private bathroom, and they even wheeled a candy machine to block the small hallway down which my rooms were found, so that the janitors would be warned that yes, indeed, tonight they had an "overnighter." (Something I discovered that, while not being too common, happens enough for there to be a loose protocol for.)
When the lights flipped on at 4am I bolted up, knowing that yes, I had slept for a few minutes through the night, but not enough to really bolster me up for the flight home. I splashed some water on my face, tamed my curls and brushed my teeth before gathering my belongings and venturing out into the airport halls. The first passengers who actually slept in a bed last night are just starting to arrive and check in. And so here I am, typing away and waiting for the Tim Horton's to open. A small sign propped on a column promises it will be less than an hour. Good thing, because in the chaos of 12 hours yesterday running gate to gate trying to get out of Vancouver and back to Toronto, I neglected to eat more than a bagel and an orange juice, and I'm getting a little light-headed.
Ah well. It's a right of passage, and I'm now a member of the REAL traveler's club.