[N.B. Jennifer and I worry that with the transition from Jerusalem to San Diego, we will no longer be able to walk as much as we did. My time back has certainly not begun that way. It is currently 3:45 AM on Monday morning, July 31 and I have been walking with Maital for 2 hours 45 minutes. Yep, that little one who napped on the plane, napped a little bit when we first arrived at my in-laws and went to sleep last night at about her regular time without too much fussing – woke up screaming, Jen pulled her into bed and nursed her, tried to put her down. Screaming. Screaming. Did I mention that when my sister, nieces and nephew were over between 7:00 & 8:00 PM, I couldn’t keep my eyes open and was doing head-bobs, and then 30 minutes later as I was getting my 2nd (3rd?) wind, Jen fell fast asleep on the couch? Finally, about 3:45 AM, after our near-to 3 hour walk, I gave her to Jen in bed and came out to the living room to type. Managed about 10 minutes before Shayna and then Nadiv joined me. Another 10 minutes and out came Maital and Jennifer. So by 4:15 AM we have a full family reunion, watching Cinderella and writing the last of the daily weblogs about our Israel trip. That is a brief Tuesday from LA update, now back to Monday in Jerusalem:]
So I guess technically, the place to begin is Monday morning, just after the clock struck midnight. Potchkeyed around our apartment, very sad to be leaving. I don’t think I mentioned in Saturday night’s report that I finally brought Jennifer by my old apartment, about 5 minutes from our current one. By a very strange coincidence, we have the same landlord this summer as I did when I lived there in 1991-1992! Seeing my old apartment, just from the outside, had me reflective about the places we’ve been, even the places we lived, during significant moments in our lives.
[E.g. Even though we lived in it less than a year together, the home we lived in when we were first married holds very special memories for me.]
So pacing our apartment, assuming that I will probably never be in it again, was very strange. Lots of very significant memories and association – all within one month!
Time passing slowly, took a shower, got dressed. I went in to wake up Jennifer at 1:00 AM, sat in bed for a few minutes, and at 12:58 AM, Jennifer sat bolt upright – frightened me at first by startling me and second by the precision of her circadian rhythms or biological clock telling her it was time to get dressed. It is amazing how refreshed she seemed after her 60 minutes of sleep!
About 1:45 AM, started taking luggage down to the taxi. A little after 2:00, put Maital in her car seat/stroller and picked up the other two. Nadiv woke up and fussed pretty much the whole hour until we arrived at Ben Gurion Airport – a pleasant ride from 2:00 to 3:00 in the morning.
And then the airport was one annoyance after another – thank God nothing significant, but nothing as easy as it could be either.
Getting back our V.A.T. (Refundable Sales Tax for Tourists) took three trips. Actually getting through security was quite easy, just like on the way to Israel.
We stood in line for what seemed like hours to check baggage, and when we finally got the front the agent could not pull up our reservation. It took her another 5-10 minutes to resolve that. Did I mention that all of this was passing as if in slow motion?
Oh, I forgot to mention that, including the strollers, we had 10 pieces of luggage to check in!
And with all the talk of bringing Israel home with us, and bringing so much of it home, the physical parts of that weigh a lot – lots of Jerusalem stone and ceramics! I was sure that at least 3 of the 10 pieces would be overweight. I watched nervously as each one was weighed and each one made, one by a few pounds, one by less than a pound and third by less than a good sneeze! Phew, that was good news.
All of this by 4:00 AM!
When we finally boarded the plane, they had to close the doors half way through boarding because of a security breach in the airport. Something that turned out to be nothing, but since we were already on the airplane, it managed to turn our 15 hour plane ride into 16 hours!
But by far, the most unexpected surprise of this Israel trip was the wonderful conduct of our children on the way to and from Israel. We stressed more about the long airplane rides than anything else, and the kids were great. Don’t get me wrong, they weren’t perfect, and the few minutes of fussiness were not quiet or pleasant by any stretch of the imagination, but they were quite few and very far between.
The significant feature of this 15 hour flight was the 3 ˝ hour nap that Shayna and Nadiv took while sitting together on my lap. It was precious and wonderful and very restful for them. I couldn’t move and certainly couldn’t get comfortable. But cognizant of what the five minutes before the nap were like, the nap couldn’t not have come at a better time (well, maybe 5 minutes earlier!).
What else can I say about the flight? I got to watch “Premonition”, “300” and some movie about a dog-actor that becomes a Firehouse dog, multiple times, and a special blessing to whoever invented the spare battery for the kids’ DVD player!
So the math is strange – leave about 7:00 AM, 16 hour flight, 10 hour time change – we landed in Los Angeles a little before 1:00 PM. Again, simply moving with the two strollers and three kids is not easy, and they lost a piece to our stroller but they found it while we waited. Then we had to collect all of our luggage. Then outside we found my father-in-law only to discover that our van wouldn’t start that morning and he picked us up in his car and we wouldn’t all fit.
So I sent him, Jen, the kids and most of the luggage home, while the rest of the luggage and I found a cab. The thirty minute cab ride – most restful thirty minutes of a 34 hour day!
The afternoon was quite pleasant: Jen’s grandma came over, so did my sister and her kids. We gave them their Israel presents and my niece and nephew each received the special Havdalah Set we bought them for their Bar & Bat Mitzvah.
Nadiv fell asleep about 5:00 PM (and didn’t wake up until almost 4:00 AM!), Shayna and Maital around 7:30, and between headbobs, Jen and I went to get frozen yogurt and we were still in bed a little after 9:00 PM.
And so we are home, or at least back in the States. In some ways it feels like we never justify, and in other respects it feels like we are totally different but the rest of the world hasn’t changed.
As to what does it really mean to be home? And, what does it really mean to bring Israel home with us?
That is cause for reflection and conversation for many months and years to come.
We know that we are thrilled knowing when we will be back in Israel next – With God’s blessing, I will be there in the end of January, and we will be there as a whole family at the end of next June.
We are incredibly excited at the number of people who are exploring the possibility of visiting Israel when we do next summer.
We are excited to start making real our ideas for Jewish observances, study and Shabbat that we have been talking about for weeks.
And, we are incredibly thankful for the blessings of the past weeks, and thank God for watching over us in our going and our returning. May God continue to bless us, our family, the people Israel and all the righteous.
We look forward to seeing you in shul soon!