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June 13, 2012

Pure Love in the Middle of a Travel Nightmare

http://www.jewishjournal.com/blog/item/pure_love_in_a_travel_nightmare_20120613/

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Yesterday I flew to New York City.  By flew to New York City of course I mean I ended up in a travel nightmare.  I was taking a client’s child to the east coast to go to camp for 2 weeks.  The plan was to fly her in, drop her to her best girlfriend, have dinner with my friends in the city, and come back on a late flight.

It made perfect sense.  I have travelled with this wonderful child before, and these trips we take are a highlight of my job.  This is a remarkably bright and entertaining child.  She makes me laugh out loud, think about things, and like my own child, gives me hope for the future of the world and the kids who will run it.

I was picked up at my home at 4:45 am.  We got to her home at 5:00 am and arrived at LAX at 5:30.  We went to Starbucks to get some tea, stopped to get some playing cards, and ate a bagel while we waited for our flight at 7:00 am.  We boarded, settled into a row all by ourselves and headed back east.

The flight was great.  We did card tricks, played go fish, surfed online, read books, napped, and overall had a perfect flight.  We landed at JFK 30 minutes early and life was good.  We got into the car and made our way to her friend’s house, which is about 45 minutes away from the airport.

It was raining in New York, traffic was bad, and there were two accidents along the way.  It all sounds typical and not a big deal, but the truth is it was a nightmare.  Our 45 minute drive took just shy of 4 hours.  Yes that is correct, 4 hours.  We were both tired, frustrated, and not happy.

My young friend must have asked 50 times if we were there yet and it was not annoying as much as heartbreaking.  It was hard to have to keep telling her we were delayed.  She was tired, hungry, angry and yet excited to see her best friend, who was just as frustrated waiting for her.

Fourteen hours after i left home, we arrived at our destination and I must tell you, it was magic.  The moment we turned the corner to the house the window opened and she began to wave.  Nobody could see, but the sight of the house made her wave.  It was a remarkable moment.

She was so happy at the thought of seeing her friend, that she started to wave so the second her friend saw the car, she would see her hand waving.  It was a simple gesture, but so lovely and kind that I found myself getting emotional.  I was delirious with exhaustion, but still touched.

Her friend ran out of the house, barefoot in the pouring rain, and they started to scream hello to each other.  It reminded me of the scene in The Color Purple when the sisters see each other after years of separation and start to play together.  I found myself clapping with excitement.

These girls talk on the phone daily, Skype like maniacs, have maintained a tight bond since one moved to the east coast, and have a pure and wonderful love for each other.  It made me think about love, friendship and how we are responsible for the future by how we raise our children.

The mothers of these two little girls have worked tirelessly to help them maintain their friendship.  Moving can be hard when you are a kid, I know because I moved around a lot as a child because of my father’s work.  It is up to the parents to help kids stay connected with their friends.

We are responsible for the happiness of our children, and that a friendship is nurtured, when it would be easier to allow it to slip away, matters.  These children will remember these times together, but also look back at the sacrifices their parents made in order for them to maintain it.

We spent 14 hours together, thick as thieves.  She snuggled up to me to sleep, I played with her hair, we spoke about what great friends we were, and then, in the blink of an eye, she forgot my name and had absolutely no use for me. The moment she got out of the car I was forgotten.

The kids ran around together and the look on the face of the little girl’s mom was sweet.  You could see her relief we had finally arrived, and pure joy at seeing the happiness of her daughter.  Being a mother is a blessing and seeing people do it well is wonderful.  These are great moms.

It was madness and peace all at once.  The 14 hours of travel time was a distant memory and even though I was unable to see my friends for dinner because of tine, I got back in the car to go to JFK feeling happy to have been able to see the pure love of these two children.

That is when my nightmare continued.  It was still raining, traffic was ridiculous, and the chances of my missing the last flight of the day were starting to be a real possibility.  It was now 7:30 and rather than watch the clock tick away, I dozed off hoping time would pass quickly.

I woke up after 8:00 and we were still making our way to the airport.  We pulled up to American Airlines at exactly 8:30 and my flight was at 9:00.  I ran straight to security, thankful I had already printed my boarding pass.  The line to get into the security check was massive.

I went to the front of the line and let the woman checking ID’s know my flight was leaving in 25 minutes.  She told me no flights were being pulled and I needed to get in line.  I am now on the verge of crying, my cold has kicked in full swing, and I have no time for dinner or a cocktail.

I finally make it to the front of the ID check line at 8:39.  I tell the security guard that is directing people through the metal detectors that my flight is at 9 and she takes me to the front and rushes me through.  I zip through the inspection, put my shoes on and start to run.

I have not bothered to put my belt back on so my pants are falling down, one shoe is only partially on, and I am now sweating, fighting a fever, and making my way to the gate, which feels miles away.  I get to the gate and there is no one there.  Could I have missed the flight?

I approach an airport employee and am informed my gate has changed. She tells me to start running and lets me know she will call and tell them I am coming.  I am now crying, can’t breathe through my nose, am trying to keep up my pants, calling my Englishman, and carrying one shoe.

I get to the gate and the look I get from the American Airlines employees implies that I look like hell.  They give me the feel sorry for you head tilt look, and usher me onto the flight.  I am the last open to board and the flight is packed.  People are staring, with pity, but still staring.

I make my way to the 3rd from last row and am seated by the window next to a large man.  He lets me into my seat, smiles, then proceeds to pull a McDonalds bag from under his seat.  He is going to eat a Big Mac and fries, on a packed flight, late at night, and I’m dying.

I start to cry, he looks at me, again with pity, and in an accent I hardly understand, offers me half of hisdinner.  It was so sweet and generous that I was touched.  By touched of course I mean as a vegetarian the smell of his burger almost made me puke on him.

I thanked him for being so kind, told him I was fine, wrapped my scarf around my face, and prayed for sleep.  No such luck.  The flight was long, I could not sleep, my phone had no power, so I had no music.  I walked into my home 21 hours after I left and was beyond relieved.

It was a very long day and I may have developed a blood clot from sitting so long, but in the end I would do it again to have the joy of seeing the love these two young ladies have for each other.  I saw pure love on this trip and for all our children, I am keeping the faith.

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