Sunday, August 17, 2008

A hard day's night.

.ליל יום קשה

Friday morning, 8:00 am Jerusalem Time

I wake up when Jessica comes back from a run. This is our last day together for a week, and we want to make the best of it! As I have the Wexner Institute next week, I don't have any homework that I have to do, so I'm able to spend the day catching up on news, blogs, emails, my calendar updates, etc. Basically, we decide to take it easy.

Unfortunately, Jessica starts feeling sick and feels pretty bad for the majority of the day. We decide not to go out, not to go to services, and I make soup and toast for lunch. We watch The West Wing for a while and wait for my departure time to arrive.

Saturday morning, 12:00 am Jerusalem Time

We've just finished watching an episode of The West Wing, and I don't think we have time to watch another one before I leave. So, I verify that I have everything I need, I eat a bowl of cereal to give me energy for having to stay awake through the night, and Jessica and I chat. My taxi is supposed to come at 12:45 am. Of course, I'm ready early. 12:30 - of course no taxi. 12:45 - still no taxi. At 1:00, I decide to call the taxi company to see what's going on, and as the phone is ringing, the taxi pulls up outside and honks. I say a hasty good-bye to Jessica, and I'm on my way.

Saturday morning, 2:00 am Tel Aviv Time (1 hour since departure)

I've arrived at Ben Gurion airport and find myself waiting in line for security. There aren't a lot of people here (what with it being 2:00 on a Shabbat morning). I make it through security without any problems, check my bad with Alitalia, make my way through Security Number Two, and then situate myself in the main food/shopping area of the airport. I watch an excellent Columbo movie and make my way to my gate.

Saturday morning, 6:00 am Jerusalem Time (5 hours since departure)

When I get on the plane, I realize that when I asked the ticketer for "maximum legroom," he hooked me up. I'm sitting in an emergency exit row, which means that I have lots of extra room. Pretty sweet. The flight isn't too bad, and I have my vegetarian Italian meal (not spaghetti) with no major problems.

Saturday morning, 10:00 am Rome time (10 hours since departure)

I'm feeling fairly tired by this point, and I'm more or less staring into space, trying to nod off, and working on crossword puzzles while waiting for boarding to begin. We get underway a bit later than expected and I don't end up seated until 10:30 (we were supposed to leave at 9:50). This is when things start to go wrong...

For one thing, I'm in a regular seat, which means discomfort for long-leggers like me. And I'm totally exhausted. But, for the most part, I'm doing okay. I read my Wexner materials on and off for a couple hours, and try to nod off every hour or two. I manage to sneak in 1-2 hours of sleep this way ... and then I start feeling sick.

My stomach hurts, I feel a bit nauseated, and I'm getting warm. I'm extremely tired, but I can't find a position that will afford me any sleep, especially since the person in front of me insists on having his seat all the way back. I feel worse and worse and no in way can I consider eating the last mini-meal/snack they serve. I'm dying for them to land. The person in front of me must have picked up on my misery (A) because I've pushed my legs against his seat so he can't push it back and (B) I'm twisting into different positions every twenty minutes or so. At last we land an hour and a half after we were scheduled to.

Saturday afternoon, 2:45 pm New York time (20.75 hours since departure)

I'm just leaving the plane now, and I have 1.5 hours to get my luggage, go through customs, check my luggage, get a ticket, and make it to my gate for my flight to Burlington. As I'm walking down a hallway at JFK, I see hundreds of people lining up. I know that I don't have time to wait in that line, so I walk right past everyone. I feel really bad about it ... and also fairly Israeli. When I get to the front, I realize that the line is being held at the top of a set of stairs. I ask one of the airport employees if I can wait in the front since my flight leaves soon; he says yes.

However, I then realize that this line is being held at the top of the stairs because in the large room downstairs, there are literally hundreds more people waiting in another enormous line. How will I ever make my flight? Thankfully, Providence steps in. I hear one of the employees say that this line is for visitors to the US - those with an American passport can go ahead. I make my way down the stairs and see that there are no lines at the American residents customs desk. As I enter the queue area, I tell the attendant that I've never been so happy to be an American citizen!

I make my way to baggage claim and discover that it will be possible, though difficult, to make my 4:15 flight. But what can you do? I'm waiting for my bag, and with every minute that ticks by, I get more nervous. I decide that at 3:15, I'll call Delta to see if there's anything they can do for me, but I get antsy and can't wait that long. I call information, get the number, and as I'm being transferred from domestic to international flights, my bag arrives. Hallelujah! I hang up on Delta, grab my bag, and hit it.

Saturday afternoon, 3:15 pm New York time (21.25 hours since departure)

I make my way swiftly through customs and then have to wait at the Delta transfers counter for a while. I finally get to the front of the line, and they take my bag and print me a boarding pass. They tell me that the plane leaves from the next building over, so I should be able to make it, but I should still hurry. So I do. I rush over to the next building, jaywalking across a street. (After I jaywalk, I hear someone shout angrily, and my heart skips a beat. He wasn't yelling at me, though, thankfully!)

I make it to the right building and have to go through yet another security check. These things are really annoying, especially since they're even more rigorous than in Israel about things like putting your shoes/belt/wallet etc. through the x-ray machine. I make it through and get to my gate with a half-hour to spare!

And that's when I discover that my flight's been delayed.

Saturday afternoon, 4:00 pm New York time (22 hours since departure)

Once I have a chance to sit down and get my bearings, I realize that I feel really sick. I call my parents, who are, of course, excited to hear from me. I tell them about my travel woes, and they help me feel better (at least emotionally). I watch an episode of Star Trek: Voyager on my laptop, take some Advil, and start to feel a little better. Mostly, I just want to leave...

Saturday night, 7:15 pm New York time (25.25 hours since departure)

My flight to Burlington is finally taking off. Over the past couple hours, I've been in contact with the Wexner people. I was originally scheduled to ride in a rented car with our Graduate Fellows Director, but I missed that boat. They were going to try to arrange for a car to take me to the resort, but I'm supposed to call when I land to see what the story is. Meantime, I've boarded the plane and discovered to my absolute delight that I have two seats to myself. I move over to the window seat at 6:45 and promptly fall asleep until we take off at 7:15. I manage to sleep for about another half-hour until the drinks are served. I ask for Ginger Ale.

And this is the moment of most pristine beauty during this entire experience.

I haven't eaten anything for about nine hours, and the thought of food still makes me sick. I've had a few sips of water, and of course my Advil. My mouth is sticky and dry from sleep and not having had my teeth brushed since Friday morning. And the flight attendant hands me an ice-filled glass of Canada Dry Ginger Ale. I swear to you that as I put the glass to my lips and taste the first bitter/sweet, watered-down drops of that drink, I'm am instantly transported to 3527 Richards Blvd, where a sick 8-year-old is being given some Ginger Ale by his worried mother. I instantly felt emotionally better, and I believe that this very moment was the turning point in my illness.

Saturday night, 8:00 pm Burlington Time (26 hours since departure)

I land and call someone from Wexner. Turns out that they weren't able to get me a ride to the resort, so I'm supposed to take a cab to a local hotel and spend the night there. (They will, of course, reimburse me for all my expenses.) Not what I wanted, but not a big deal either. I get some cash and wait for my bags.

And that's where the big deal comes in.

Turns out my bag, despite having plenty of time to make it to our delayed flight, decided to hang out in New York instead of coming to Vermont with me. So, I have no change of clothes, deodorant, toothpaste, etc. Just my books and (thank God) my hairbrush.

I get into a cab, explain the hotel situation, and manage to get a room in a Comfort Inn.

Saturday night, 9:30 pm (27.5 hours since departure)

I fall asleep on my bed after dismissing out of hand the very notion of eating dinner. Aside from short, uncomfortable naps on planes, this is my first sleep in 44.5 hours.


And that's how I got to Vermont! Luckily, as I write this at 9:50 am on Sunday morning, I'm feeling much better than I was yesterday. I do still feel a little jet-lagged, and I feel the after-effects of being sick, but I don't think that there are going to be any serious complications today or the rest of the week. Provided I feel up to it, I'm going to walk down to the mall to try to pick up some items that Jessica and I would like in Israel and then take a cab to the airport around 1:00 pm. From there, I should be able to take a bus with some other Fellows to the resort, and I'll be able to get this party started.

I don't know if I'll have more opportunities to post this week, but at least you got a glimpse of my international travel! Let's hope the return trip goes a lot smoother...

1 comment:

Sam & Debbie said...

Daniel,

Sounds like a bad episode of "24". But, the remainder of your trip will probably be great. You are already disaster-proofed :-)