Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Learn To Fly

The journey begins...my second mother/daughter vacation with Perri, but oddly to my mother's condo in Florida. I wonder what wisdom will seep from the apartment walls from my mom to me to Perri. I hope that when Perri (and Russell) gets to be my age she will remember whatever lessons I am trying to impart, just as I now try to remember the multitude of dos and don'ts that my parents gave to me over the years.

Perri was on an earlier flight to Florida, flying solo from Boston, where we will meet up in West Palm Beach. Yet we insisted she keep in touch during critical steps of her journey. And so she did, texting to let us know the cabhad arrived (first text, 5:15 a.m.), that she arrived at the airport and was waiting to check her luggage (5:35 a.m.), that she made it through security and she bought a Starbucks ice caramel macchiato (6:19 a.m.), that she doesn't have (or forgot to pack) ankle socks for her sneakers (6:21 a.m.), that she's enjoying the sunrise view at the gate (6:33 a.m.), that she boarded her plane (7:20 a.m.), that she was turning her phone off (7:29 a.m.). Whew!

So how did my parents handle my flying solo to Israel in 1973 following the Yom Kippur War to volunteer on a kibbutz during my junior year of college? No cell phones, pay phones too expensive except for one collect call when I arrived in Lod Airport. I'm sure they were just as concerned about my safety, if not more so; it was right after a war, after all. Yet they freely let me go. The lesson: Let her fly! Literally and figuratively. And so I did.

I arrived at the bus station in Jerusalem just as the public transportation system was shutting down for Shabbat. I had no idea how to get to a high school friend's apartment (he, along with a few others I knew were there for junior year abroad). I had befriended a father and daughter on the bus (or rather, they befriended me), and they offered me a ride to the apartment, with a warning about stairway lights that go on only if you push the button at the bottom of the stairs (of course, they never told me about how to find the button in the dark!).

Somehow I managed. I managed (with the help from another friend, also there for her junior year abroad) to get from the volunteer office in Tel Aviv to the kibbutz in the Negev where I had been assigned for the month. I managed to survive the 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. shift in the Styrofoam factory, inspecting and packing coffee cups. I managed to take trips to Beersheba, to drink Turkish coffee while playing chess, to try smoking--ugh (part of our pay was a pack of cigarettes and 2 chocolate bars each week; smart me, I traded the cigarettes for extra chocolates, and my hips are paying till this day). I managed to get back to Jerusalem for a few days sightseeing staying in a hotel near the Arab quarter because I asked the taxi driver to take me to a cheap hotel...and he did. I managed all this without checking in with my parents every step of the way.

My parents taught me a valuable lesson, one which I now pass along to Perri and to Russell—learn to fly solo and enjoy the adventure. Try new things; make smart choices; and when you need to, call (or text) home.

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