Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Getting to Israel: Part 1

Okay everybody, prepare yourselves for the ride of you life. Sit back, grab the popcorn, and allow yourselves to be entertained at my expense. You might feel pity, horror, laughter, and hopefully some relief in the end.

This last Friday was the dreaded day. For months I have thought forward to October 3rd, wondering at what events would transpire. Flying from Utah to Jerusalem with two small children and no husband would surely be no small task. But do-able…barely.

So the morning of October 3rd comes, and I’m up bright and early. I actually woke up an hour earlier than I needed to, which was an accident. So right off the bat, I start off with little sleep.

Once at the airport, my poor parents wait around for forever while I get everything settled. Then comes my blessed opportunity to go through that wonderful thing called security. Of course I am selected for the special screening. So I say goodbye to my parents, they help load me up so I can manage two bags and a car seat on my back, rolling a carry-on, and pushing a stroller with two kids. The special screening ended up not being too bad, thankfully. I had about five security guys helping me through, and it gave me extra time to get everyone’s shoes back on, and the kids back into the stroller.

Oh, if I only knew of the things to come, I think I would have run for the nearest exit.

So my first flight was from Salt Lake to Chicago. It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t horrible, either. Neither of the kids would fall asleep, so they started to get fussy since it was nap time. I finally resorted to giving Jackson a cup of ice to play with. You can imagine that cold and wet adventure. But it kept him occupied, and I figured we can always get dry later. And it gave the German family next to me a good laugh.

I was also the flight favorite on this leg of the trip because of all the toys and goodies I had brought for the kids. There were several other families on that flight, and many of the children quickly realized that I had an endless stash of surprises. And the other parents were obviously more than willing to relieve themselves for a few moments while that nice lady in the back of the plane entertains their kids AND her own.

As we arrive in Chicago, I feel like I have plenty of time to make it to the other side of the airport to catch the next flight. If someone had told me ahead of time that the Chicago airport is the size of a small city, I guess I chose to forget about it. I asked directions about five different times in order to find the right elevator to go up, then the right elevator to go back down, then up to the bridge, cross the bridge, go down another elevator, catch the train, go up another elevator, check in with the airline, stand in line for passport check, stand in line again for another security, then run like mad down the longest terminal ever built.

Okay, I made that last detail up, but it COULD be true. It was LONG. It had three different moving sidewalks. Of course I go to jump on the first one because moving sidewalk plus physically running HAS to be faster than just running, right? Ideally, but not necessarily. As I go to jump on, Joni (who is on foot at this point because I had to put the carseat on her part of the stroller) starts screaming and refusing to get on the moving sidewalk. Panicked, I grab her arm and try to draaaaaag her on, but once my feet hit the moving sidewalk, she yanked her arm away. So I start moving with the stroller, bags, and Jackson, while she’s standing at the end, screaming her head off. I’m yelling at her to get on, and she won’t, so I start running against what feels like an ever increasing current of moving sidewalk, dragging the stroller and suitcase, trying to get back to Joni. Finally, an airport worker goes to get on behind me and just picks Joni up by the armpits and plops her on the sidewalk. Problem solved. She instantly stops screaming. I told her I understand it’s a little scary, but she has done these many times, and to please never do that again. Ten seconds later, we have run to the end, and she panics and drops to all fours, wanting to crawl off. Flashes of news stories come to my mind of kids’ fingers and feet getting ripped off because they get stuck in escalators or moving sidewalks. At this point I am screaming, telling her to get off, and the same airport worker comes to save the day again, and picks her up and plops her off to the other side.

PHEW. Okay, were okay. My kids still have all their appendages. We're good to go now. Oh wait, we’re still just about to miss our flight. We keep running.

I also have to include here that Jackson has been sound asleep in the carseat for quite a while now. To conserve room in our Sit’n’Stand, I had his seat all the way up, which caused him to slump waaaaaaaay over to the side. People kept stopping me, assuming I didn’t know that my kid was folded in half sideways, and wanted to help me fix it. I humored them at first, but after the first couple of people, I would just quickly say, “I know! I can’t fix it now!”

Back to story…here comes moving sidewalk number two. Joni insists she’ll get on without complaining, and she does. Her fear factor is very fickle, especially when she’s tired. But just after she gets on, I hear an announcement that our flight is about to leave.

MORE panic. We run faster.

Joni starts yelling at me, telling me I'm mean, because I'm making her run. She keeps this up for the rest of the way. We hop off sidewalk number two, keep running, hop on sidewalk number three, keep running, get off, keep running, and I can see our gate clear down at the end. Someone from the gate starts yelling to me, “Are you going to Vienna?!?” “YES!!!”

As I get to them, I practically throw my passports at them and they start to look it all over. A guy then comes out to get my stroller and freaks out that I am unable to blink my baby out of his harness. Sorry dude! I’m trying! Can’t you see the beads of sweat dripping from all parts of my body? He doesn’t seem to care. He just wants me to give him the stroller. As he walks off I ask if he wants to know how to fold it down, and he says, “No. I’ll just take it apart if I have to.” That’s nice. I quickly imagine myself punching him in the face, and move on.

I am the last one on the flight, so while everyone is calm and collected, waiting for the NINE HOUR FLIGHT to leave, here I come, two kids in tow, sweaty, stinky, and hitting everyone in the head with my huge bags as they flop from one side of the aisle to the other. Finally a man takes pity on me and offers to help me with the suitcase I’m trying to drag behind me. “Oh yes kind, kind man!” It took him a while to find a spot, since the plane was packed to the brim, but he did, and saved me much added stress. I love you stranger!

Oh I forgot something. In the middle of the airport mayhem, while standing in one of the lines, Joni starts freaking out because she has to go potty. Ain’t happenin’ sister – no way, no how. I talked her out of it. If we went potty at this point, we would have completely missed the plane. But then again, maybe that would be better than what I'm about to experience.

Stay tuned.....


Megan said...

OH my gosh. I think I am breathing faster just imagining all the stress and panic you must have been feeling. It would've been stressful enough being by yourself but with 2 kids!!!! And what a cliff hanger, geez Amy! I kept praying for you all day Saturday and was so relieved when my mom called to tell me you guys had gotten there. If only I had known how crazy your trip had been! Well I'm looking forward to hearing the rest of the story... and glad that it's already happened so that I won't be as worried. I love you, Amy!

Megan said...

PS What happened to your Jerusalem clock! I'm too lazy to look up the time difference and figure out what time it is there now! ... okay I guess it's not THAT hard...

Sarah said...

OH, I'm so glad you guys got there safely! Man, what a wild ride! I'm sure you're glad it's over, but it sure makes for a good story. Can't wait to hear the rest!!

Jared and Tara said...

hey amy! thanks for posting i've been dying to hear whats going on over there. i'm so glad you got there ok, but good grief! i'm sweating just thinking about what you had to go through!

Lori said...

You should write stories. You had me totally enthralled! I can totally picture it and I feel for you. I have traveled alone with two kids but only to Texas not clear across the world! Glad you are ok and can't wait to hear the rest of your story.