Thank God we made it. We initially had tickets to Israel for February 3rd. As life would have it, on February 2nd around two in the afternoon my husband received an email to check-in to our flight. On checking in we learned that our flight from New York to Israel was no longer happening! An entire leg of our trip was cancelled. I sat down in the arm chair next to my husband and felt relieved.
I had spent the past month completely freaked out about packing and getting on an airplane.
Two pm the night before our original flight and we were still not packed. We spent the morning and early afternoon visiting Logan's grandmother - leaving the last of packing to be finished in the evening. Several hours later with massive negotiating Logan managed to get us a flight to NY on February 4th and to fly with a different airline from New York to Jerusalem.
I am not sure we would have made it to Jerusalem if we were to fly out on our original flight. We packed until one am and still had to pack things the next day. We also needed to do a final run to our storage, exchange our new Target carry ons for new Cost-co carry ons, drop off things to our mailbox, pick up mail from our PO BOX and eat sushi with my family.
Three am February 4th, the alarm went off. It was game day. Logan's mom met us at my parents' house, my parents helped us get our kids into the car and off we went. While my kids sat in the car and my parents stood outside, my mother smiling and my father trying to hide his sadness, I felt a wave of sadness overcome me. I was leaving my family behind for the longest time I've ever left them. Two months many years ago was the last and the longest time I ever spent away from my parents.
We spent the last two weeks before our adventure living with my parents. It was quite the experience living at home again. My kids absolutely loved having their grandparents around them 24/7. I loved having my parents around. A house with my mother is a full house. She is a fireball of energy running around everywhere and doing everything all at once. I also realized my mother's house stays so beautifully clean because she spends hours every single day cleaning it. There is no magic other than lots of hard work.
Standing outside in my parents' driveway I understood the enormity of the adventure ahead of us. The past six months of planning and packing did not affect me in the same way that saying goodbye to my parents made me feel. Leaving my parents was leaving a part of myself. I love my parents a lot. They drive me nuts but at their core they are home. Since moving out of their house six years ago I did not feel part of their family life. I was a stranger, familiar and loved, but not part of their core group. The last two weeks was a wonderful flashback, a warm cocoon of feeling meaningful in their lives. A small part of me wanted to stay, to continue living in their upstairs bedroom and to be wrapped up in their world.
I said goodbye and hoped my hugs would convey how much I would miss them and how much I loved them.
The ride to the airport was quiet. Logan's mother rode in between the kids and I sat beside Logan as we drove on the freeway. The roads were empty. We arrived at the airport and circled around twice before finding the International Departures section. We parked curbside, emptied the car and were on our way. The next two hours were spent entertaining the kids, running circles around the airport and battling massive flying anxiety. My stomach churns just writing about the anxiety.
Thankfully it was smooth sailing all the way to New York. Initially Aaron fell asleep, he napped for about an hour into the flight. The rest of the flight we spent feeding and entertaining Aaron as he jumped all over us in boredom. Other than entertaining Aaron I spent the flight reading a book about overcoming anxiety. Strangely, it was comforting.
Upon landing in New York we entertained ourselves for two hours with food while chasing the kids up and down the floor escalator. The last hour was spent figuring out our tickets with the ELAL staff as people swarmed the gate. While standing in line watching streams of all kinds of Jews enter the gate area Logan looked at me and said, "it has begun." The last thirty minutes before boarding our flight Aaron ran around with another boy while Sadie jumped around and people dominated the gate area. I can't fully explain the difference between a flight of Jews and non-Jews but there is a difference. The gate area in San Diego was quiet, peaceful and orderly. The gate area in New York was dominated by people waiting to board the plane. There were kids everywhere. There was a group of loud teenagers yelling - hormones shooting out of every orifice. Logan stood talking to his sister on the phone while our kids ran in two different directions, our stroller and carry-ons were about ten feet away and his backpack ten feet away in the opposite direction from our stroller. My organized and efficient husband morphed into another ELAL passenger, crazy and loud. My head spun as I tried to watch the bags and chase after the kids while soaking in the chaos around me. I finally snapped when he was more interested talking on the phone than boarding the plane.
The flight to Jerusalem was a mess. Aaron refused to sleep. The first thirty minutes of the flight Aaron and Sadie slept, Logan and I thought we were in for a smooth ride. We were wrong. We were completely wrong. Neither child slept after the initial little snooze for the entire flight. Aaron switched from crying/screaming and running up and down the halls the entire flight. Our neighbors hated us. I hated us.
I watched the minutes countdown until we reached out destination. I tried ignoring the nagging image of our plane going down in flames in the middle of the ocean. Time moved in five minute increments. By the time we landed I was tired, stressed and ready to take a hot shower. I had no idea hot showers were a precious commodity, my instant hot water heater would become a distant dream I would think about fondly and often. We peeled ourselves off of our seats, bedraggled and tired. Baggage claim was a disappointment as one of our bags refused to show up on the conveyor. My American husband turned more Israeli as a women repeatedly touched our luggage searching for her bag and he finally quipped to her, "we don't have your bag."
An hour later we were filling out paperwork for our missing bag as Aaron screamed in frustration.
We wheeled all of our baggage out of the security area and walk to the book shop to meet with Eli, our driver. A tall, slender man with long payots walks up to us and asks, "Logan?" I'm surprised. Already Isreal surprises me as our driver is an Orthodox man. He helped us with our bags and takes out outside. We walk past several large, roomy modern vans and walk to up this:
Please imagine my ultimate bitchface. Imagine that glued to my face for twenty minutes as the men try to load the car. I really tried holding back bitchface. I really tried to roll with it. But as I looked back longingly at the large roomy van twenty feet behind me I can't help myself. Later Logan acknowledged he was impressed with my verbal restraint during the situation and then laughed about my bitchface.
On the drive up to Jerusalem I remarked how impressed I am the car is actually working. I was half-joking. The driver laughed and agreed, fully serious. I was tempted to jump out of the car in terror as the elevation increased, an image of our car rolling all the way down the mountain from the weight of our belongings. Aaron, our driver, (not Eli as we were told when we negotiated a driver) received a phone call as we climbed the mountain to Jerusalem. He was informed that we were about to sit in two hours of traffic. He got off the phone, scoffed and five minutes later we were sitting in two hours of traffic. The next twenty minutes we crawled to an area of construction on the road that would allow us to do an illegal u-turn. Aaron debated and debated and decided to take the u-turn despite the police officer 30 cars ahead of us. We proceeded to watch a series of trucks and cars take the illegal u-turn in front of the police. No one was arrested.
The two lane freeway was completely stopped, a police officer in a car behind us decided he wanted to cut through traffic. He turned on his lights and tried to ram his way through traffic. Cars refused to move. Aaron, our driver, followed the opening the cop made on the freeway - the two lane highway becoming a mash of cars with no rhyme or reason. It was total chaos.
Finally we entered the u-turn area. The original cop was still waiting to enter the freeway running the opposite direction. A group of us sat in our cars waited for him to u-turn so we could take our turn. Aaron finally remarked he was going to get out of the car and stop traffic so the cop could finally complete his u-turn. Thankfully the cop was able to finally get on the road and we were on our way. In seconds we were driving the back way to Jerusalem. We drove through a beautiful forested area and a checkpoint where a religious Jewish community lived opposite of an Arab town. Finally we entered Jerusalem.
Jerusalem is on a mountain, it is hills and valleys and pockets of homes and stones and people and cars and noise and history and modern and it's life. Jerusalem is a juxtaposition of old and young. Jerusalem is amazing. I was excited to finally feast on the sights of Jerusalem after nearly 2.5 years. I looked around eagerly until Aaron mumbled, "oh, the car is overheating." My heart stops. I imagine us pushing the damn car up all the mountains climbing higher and higher until we reach our home.
To be continued....
Meet the Blogger!
I'm a mom. A writer. A lover of good fantasy. A proponent of nursing when possible. A birth advocate. I am absolutely horrible at keeping my house clean or the dishes washed or the laundry done. I strongly believe in women having a positive birth. When we start to respect women's rights to birth the way they want, we can start to treat women as equal people in this world.
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