The events of the past few days have led me to realize that, sometimes, whether an experience is good or bad is determined by how you look at it. You can experience an event and focus on everything that went wrong, or you can look at all the stuff that worked out in your favor.
Take, for example, my flight home:
So I flew home from Israel yesterday. And since I am posting, it is probably self-evident that I made it back home.
My luggage was not so lucky.
But I'll get to that in a minute.
It was an interesting experience, flying home the day after the London thing. I am relieved I wasn't flying home a day earlier, by the way. (which had been a possibility when I was booking flights) both because I would have missed a great last day at the Yeshiva and because then I would have been travelling in the middle of the whole thing in London and not after the fact.
Was I worried about flying the day after the London thing, you might ask? Certainly not for the first leg of the flight - I trust Israel security to the point where I knew they wouldn't even need to step it up at all, because even their regular security is probably more thorough than anyone else's. The second part of my flight, from Milan, I was less sure of - but not too worried about even that.
The bigger deal was the inconvenience, I think. And, at the time, it wasn't such a big deal - though I wasn't sure I saw the point of it all, I did understand why they had to remove all liquids from carry-ons and so on. I do wish they'd posted some sign before the security lines, though. I was lucky I got some advance warning from my parents, whose (direct) flight was about five hours before mine.
Yeah, so I spent the night at Ben Gurion airport on Thursday. Not because of a flight delay - my flight boarded almost on time - but because that was just the way the flights were scheduled. It was easier to hitch a ride with my parents than to try to get from Jerusalem on my own at 1 am of whatever.
Turned out it was good I was there early. But I'll get to that detail in a moment also.
Anyway, so from about 10 pm, when my parents headed through Passport Control, I was on my own in the little shop area that is accessible to anyone in the airport. I hung out there until about 2 am, browsing in stores, writing and reading. Then I headed over to the bathroom to remove my contacts (no liquid means no eye drops and also no saline to remove them on the plane, so I took care of that before checking in.) and to pack my travel toiletries in my suitcase.
At this point, I felt a bit inconvenienced, because if I got stuck in Milan over Shabbat, I would have no toiletries. (Plus, in the process of repacking, as I was shifting my suitcase to open it and such, I managed to break not one, but three nails - and I know that might sound petty, but it *hurt*!) Still, I decided I could deal. I still had my emergency Shabbat outfit, and I could always buy a tube of toothpaste and use the hotel shampoo or whatever.
Then I went to check in.
Now, in Israel, they run all of your bags through an x-ray machine before you check in - this is part of the reason I feel safer - they add these extra steps as part of their standard check-in procedures. So, 45 minutes later, I reached the check-in desk.
Good thing I was running early. There was no one waiting in line behind me when the woman at the check-in counter told me that not only did I need to remove all my liquids - which, at that point, just meant I had to throw away what was left of my water bottle - but that I could not take any carry-on because I was flying to America. (mind you, my parents, who also flew to America, were allowed. So either the regulations changed over those five hours, or it was because I was going to be flying from *Europe* to America - I am not sure.)
Yes, that's right. They were not allowing carry-ons.
Now, I somehow got away with taking my "purse" - that is, the bag I bought for Italy that held camera, water bottle, tour books, etc. and, while in Israel, was just large enough to hold a notebook for the yeshiva.
This was a good thing, because I got away with carrying my writing (remember the 1000 words a day? well, wrote maybe 3000 words the entire month, but point is, I had it with me), my journal, and all of my jewelry, plus a few other little things.
She also told me no food - and that was when I almost cried. My kosher meal from Italy to Israel was inedible, and I couldn't go 8 hours (on the second flight) without food. Fortunately, I realized she meant the second leg of the flight only, and I decided that I would let the people in Milan tell me if they wanted me to throw the food away, and I packed it in my small bag,
It was only after I send my backpack under that I realized it didn't have my name on it. Oops.
Then an hour before boarding. Spent most of it in the Michal Negrin store treating myself to a necklace.
And just barely remembered - and only because I walked past the stand - that I needed to get back my VAT money (VAT being Value Added Tax, the Israeli sales tax that foreigners technically don't have to pay - so you can get it refunded on purchases over $100.)
My first flight boarded almost on time - a good thing, since I only had an hour layover in Milan.
Then there was a sick passenger, which led to nearly an hour delay. So much for on time.
This meant I spent a very stressful four hours on that plane - worrying about catching my second flight and about making it home in time for Shabbat - worrying about getting stuck in Milan with pretty much the clothes on my back - certainly no good for Shabbat - and worrying about landing in Newark airport close to Shabbat (that was the next Alitalia flight that I knew of after mine) and my luggage going to JFK or not making it at all, at which point I would have been at home, but still without Shabbat clothing...
Let's just say that it was a great relief to get on that second flight - and, as it turned out, I boarded five minutes after the scheduled *departure* time - good thing the second flight was more delayed than the first! Apparently, this was where the added security worked to my advantage.
I also had about the best coach seat on the plane - the bulkhead row behind business class. Only I was in the aisle seat, and the bulkhead was only in front of the window seat and middle seat. Which meant I had more foot space than I could use. Plus, the TV screen that comes out of the side of the seat. Too bad the movies weren't working... let's just say it was impressive to walk down the aisle and see all these adult passengers playing silly video games on their screens...
And the meals turned out to be edible after all, but they didn't confiscate my food, so I had both.
Then I got to JFK - and discovered my luggage had not made it. The good news is, it is in good company with all the luggage from the other passengers who transferred from Israel. But I still didn't have it. Again, I was pretty much in tears - but I was also coming off an all-nighter with only a few naps, so I had an excuse this time. And I had a plan - report the luggage, then go to my apartmennt and get clothing.
The best part was, my parents surprised me when I got out of Customs - it felt weird to declare all this stuff that wasn't with me - by meeting me at the exit. Which was before the lost luggage office, and it was good to have the company while I waited in a line that took a forever.
And then, back to my apartment for clothing, and home for Shabbat with my entire family, which was really wonderful.
Now, like I said, it's amazing how your perspective on things can really change how you experience something. My flight home was a mixed bag - but ultimately, I came home in a pretty good mood. I chalk this up to constructive worrying, in part. Once I was on the second plane, I knew I'd be home with plenty of time before Shabbat, and so, in my head, I said to myself, well, even if my luggage doesn't make it, I will, and I will just have to go back to my apartment on the way home. So when it happened, I was ready. In fact, he says that I didn't even bother to greet my parents. I just walked up to them and said something like, "hi. We have to go to my apartment now. My luggage didn't make it."
I could have been upset about so many things. The all-nighter in the airport. The delay for the sick passenger. Needing to check my backpack, and then not getting my luggage back at the end. The lack of movies on my seond flight. Etc, etc, etc.
But, other than the stress level on the first leg of my flight - worrying about being stranded with no luggage - I was much more focused on what went right. I had warning on the liquid thing. I had time to reorganize my bags. I didn't have to gate check the backpack because I checked it at the counter, bar code and all. I had time to shop for jewelry. I got edible (not good, but edible) kosher meals. I had the best coach seat on the plane. And I made my second flight (thanks, ironically, to increased security) and got home with plenty of time. My luggage was lost, but my mom had many of my toiletries (because my bag was too heavy) and her luggage made it, and it was easy to get clothing from my apartment. And my parents surprised me at the airport.
Plus, I ended up with a story.
So, overall, not so bad.
Now, let's just hope the luggage gets back to me...