Reentry and vacation reflections
Updated: Jul 30
I just put together my photo book for our Israel trip, and I felt so overwhelmed with joy by the end. I am sitting on the couch in my sunroom this morning listening to the birds again with my dogs snuggled up beside me. I am content to be home, except for this less than appetizing American coffee in my hand. I miss my Israeli coffee. My creamy cappuccino that I got at the elaborate breakfast spread the hotel put out every morning.
There are so many little pieces of our trip that pleasantly surprised me. The ease of traveling with our three kids to a foreign country was at the top of the list. I never thought it would be so fun to fly across the world with them. The 10 hour flight was so much easier than I anticipated. Also, the food in Israel also blew my mind. Every restaurant we went to was better than the next. The culture and history amazed me. The magnificent landscape was so much different from everything we were accustomed to seeing here in New England, and it was cool to expose my children to it all.
Someone asked me yesterday to define my experience in three words: exceeded all expectations.
First off, I must admit - I was going along on this trip to appease my husband for the most part. It was something he wanted to do and felt passionate about. He wanted to play hockey in the Maccabi games and take the kids to see Israel. For me, Israel was not at the top of my list of places to visit. For years, I had said when the kids got old enough that I wanted to visit the south of France or the coast of Italy. Maybe the Swiss Alps or Iceland. I never believed going to the desert in the Middle East, in the dead of summer would be an experience of a lifetime.
Ultimately, I am thankful that I was sober for this trip. My past self would have undoubtedly ruined the entire experience by drinking her way through the majority of it all, due to anxiety, stress and fear. I would have drank to avoid dealing with my kids, dealing with the stress of the whole situation (jet lag, time change, car rides to excursions, late nights, long afternoons while dad was practicing hockey, hot dusty walks in the desert, etc. - the list goes on and on!) I would have been working through my hangover in the morning back to drunkenness at night, to hungover and back again, day in and day out, just trying to survive the day, which is how I often functioned on trips or vacations in the past. I would have been spiteful towards my husband for dragging me on this "trip" - it would definitely have not felt like a vacation. We likely would have fought nonstop, me bitter towards him for not taking us to a beach vacation in Greece, him silently resentful towards me for ruining it all with my drinking.
Instead, we were all present, together, joyful and able to experience so much from each and every day. I put my trust in my husband to plan this trip, and even though I was a bit hesitant about going to Israel - he was right in the end. It was a truly incredible experience for all of us. And because of my sobriety, I soaked every bit of it up.
We floated in the Dead Sea. We walked the streets of Tel Aviv on a culinary tour, and we ate authentic Israeli food. We tried our hand at graffiti. We learned how to be Israeli secret agents and wandered through the streets on a secret mission. We explored Masada National Park and ate lunch at a Kibbutz. We learned how to behave as a special forces unit, just like the Israeli military. We rode ATVs in the desert. We walked through the ancient water tunnels of the old city of Jerusalem and visited the Western Wall. We walked the stations of the cross - where Jesus himself stood. We saw where Jesus was crucified, buried and laid down after being taken down from the cross. We saw the spot where the cross stood thousands of years ago. We saw his tomb - the Church of the Holy Sepulture. We visited family that we had never met before, immersing ourselves in a culture completely unknown to us. We learned about the Orthodox Jews and their way of living, walking through their neighborhood and home. We swam in the Mediterranean Sea, visited the Bahai Gardens and got stung by jellyfish. We rode camels in the desert. We ate a lot of hummus, cauliflower and pita. We swam in the hotel pools and endlessly rode the hotel elevators playing with our new friends. And most of all, we painted our faces, rode in the bus to the rink and watched our dads with pride as they represented their country out on the ice. Ultimately, in the end, we went home with the silver medal, but we are so, so proud of the dads!
It was a truly remarkable trip - one that will never be forgotten. I am so grateful I was able to give this experience to my kids, and most of all I am so grateful that I was able to experience it all myself without a drop of alcohol.