Friday, January 29, 2016

The view from Here

Some notes about the final day and the trip back to Teaneck. First off, as per my custom, I chose not to sleep the night before the plane ride. By this I mean, try as I might, I could not sleep the night before the plane ride. So After my compulsory 2 hours (12-2 AM) I arose to wander around the apartment, cleaning and shivering. By 5:30 I was ready to get together with the world and just, you know, "be." I know that in the big, bad world, 5:30 is a perfectly unreasonable time to wake up. Many people do it, and many people are equally unreasonable. Many places open at 6AM to accommodate the early crowd and with a world of work starting at 8 or 9AM, 6-7AM is an important time for rising and shining. When I left the apartment at 6AM, walking into a city that is full of motivated and exciting people, I just figured, you know? Well, for a land which struggles for its very existence on a daily basis, the people are late risers. This town, was coming up a ghost town (Yay, The Specials). I wandered from cafe to bakery to store at dawn looking for an angry fix and nothing was open. One store had a sign that said "open," its lights were open and the front door was unlocked. When I got inside and waited, and waited, I began to suspect something was amiss. When the guy came down the stairs holding flats of fresh rolls and chased me out, I picked up on the hint. The store, sign notwithstanding, was closed. I wandered back up to the apartment to hover and be a general nuisance as my family awoke. Eventually, we all did wake up (and I went back out at 7:15 to get a double espresso for $1.25). Our driver took us to the airport (to explain the traffic, he reported that 8AM is rush hour. Crazy.)

We made it to the airport and things were generally quiet there. The security was more in line with what I expected, with questions about our luggage and our destination -- one guy actually made me take y glasses off because he wanted to make sure I looked like y passport. I asked him if he had technology to make me 5 years younger so that I could match more exactly. Passport control people have no sense of humor. An 11:25 flight on a Thursday, not on the national carrier didn't overwhelm the place so the lines were acceptable. After checking in ("we're checking in") and getting our VAT back, we proceeded through passport control. They don't stamp your passport in Israel; they give you a slip of paper which acts as a visa. My guess is that they don't want to make things difficult for anyone who wants to travel to a country which would be offended by a stamp from Israel. This is incredibly understanding and also problematic. Instead of letting individuals see the hatred that exists towards Israel, the state hides itself and lets others hide their affinity for Israel so as to avoid confrontation. Feh. On to the duty free area. There was a wide range of candy there (overpriced, and very little with kosher supervision), alcohol (reasonable selection at OK prices) and books and magazines. Talia wanted to buy 2 magazines. We balked at the price -- eleven dollars per magazine. You read that right. Eleven dollars each.

While waiting we chatted with some Teaneck neighbors and compared visit notes. Steve P. said that he had a credit for in-flight wifi and had a hot spot, so he shared the password. This was convenient as Talia's seat-video didn't work so while she waited or the stewardesses to find her another seat (hey, those episodes of Girl Meets World aren't going to watch themselves!) she was able to send email and do all sorts of important teenager work. By the way, in a world where one can only check 1 suitcase on for free, it behooves people to pack a carry on with things you don't need (keep the essentials for a back pack) and then take the airline people up on the offer to check the carry on at the gate for free. I watched the first episode of Flight of the Conchords (in order to remind myself what absolutely perfect television looks like) then a whole bunch of movies where stuff blows up. We were served 2 meals -- the first had some sort of meat pieces with a vaguely Lebanese flavor and the second was a breakfast (at 3PM New York Time) which was an egg on a roll. We had a bit of turbulence but not much and the entire flight (though long and, well, long) was pretty darned good. A couple of squealing babies, but a really good experience otherwise. The skies, they were friendly.

At Newark, we collected our stuff, went through a variety of lines (we declared that we had but one life to give for our country, and that we had bought some chocolates and souvenirs) had our bags counted and our passports perused, and then went towards the taxi line. Julie had set up an Uber account because the car from the airport was to cost 15-20 dollars less than a taxi. The trade off for such a fare savings is that the car and driver never actually show up. After an hour of tracking the Uber and speaking with him on the phone (he was ignorant of the layout of Newark airport, and the letters of the alphabet) we cancelled and got into a cab. The rest was relative silence.

So here I sit -- a table's full of papers to be resolved, stuff to be put away, work that still has to be done (I checked, and apparently, flying with 65 10th grade essays does not magically make them be graded -- who knew?) no food in the fridge and family realities that will have us drive to Philly in 2 hours and spend Shabbos there. I miss Maddie something awful already and still have the air-equivalent-of-sea legs, but I slept from 9P to 7AM with only 3 short breaks so there's that. I now return me to my regularly scheduled life. Carry on.

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