I returned to my beloved Pittsburgh yesterday afternoon after a week in Israel, and 12 hours in the Charles De Gaulle Airport outside of Paris.
The trip was incredible. It was time-out from life. Israel is the most foreign place I have ever been, and I was lucky enough to be spending the majority of time with citizens, who gave me an awesome glimpse into the culture and country that I never would have experienced simply as a tourist.
I avoided sunburn thanks to 100+ SPF sunscreen that all of the Israelis made fun of me for, I swam in the Mediterranean, the Sea of Galilee, and floated in the Dead Sea. I kneaded the dough and braided Challah, learned about Shabbat, and enjoyed Shabbat dinner with an entire extended family including a grandmother who didn't speak much English but told me, "Eat!" as she passed me dish after dish. I didn't argue, it was delicious.
I slept outside on a roof in the small town of Tzfat during a meteor shower, attended a Klezmer festival, heckled with cab drivers, prayed at the Wailing Wall, learned approximately 5-10 words in Hebrew, and had the best hummus and felafel of my life!
I'm so grateful I could do this.
Even the flights/hours upon hours of waiting in airports weren't so bad. I cut myself off of all internet this trip, which was a really nice break. I read books, (remember those?) and had a lot of time to simply be. While too much time alone in my head can be a dangerous thing, it is a necessary experience every once in a while. Some people pay a lot for therapy. Myself, I've found that taking long flights alone, forcing me to be with myself, provides an excellent outlet to work through some stuff, and come home refreshed.
And now I'm back in the real world. Back to laundry and email and work and constant connectedness. Back to Iron City beer, and my best friends, and Madmen, and understanding the language being spoken around me. It feels really good.