Palestine: A Journey into Intensity, into Humanity, and into Myself
January 4, 2005
Starting last summer, I walked, talked, and went about my everyday life knowing that, in a few months, I would be traveling to the country of Israel. This was actually a weird feeling, since I have never been much of a traveler—content to remain primarily in one spot, perhaps leaving home for a little while. (Although, I have been doing more traveling in the past few years: the summer of 2004 in Texas and moving to Boston, MA in 2005 for graduate school.) Usually, the furthest I ever traveled from my comfort zone in North Mississippi was to the relatively nearby city of Memphis, TN. Nonetheless, I was happy about it, even if I occasionally speculated as to what kind of dangers (mainly terrorism) that I might face. I went through the entire hullabaloo of getting a passport, buying supplies (such as this funny little electric plug converter), packing, and other preparations. I also had the pleasure of breaking the news of my trip to others—friends (here and back home), professors, classmates, and family. Some wanted to the details of the trip (who was organizing it, how much it cost, how long I’d be gone, etc.). Others (mostly family) were worried for my safety—even going so far as trying to convince me to cancel.
One of the most interesting parts was when my professors and fellow students (in the sociology department at Boston College) wanted to know whether I was going by myself or with a group; inevitably, I had to tell them that it was organized by the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts, which entails revealing my Christian religious identity. I always felt a bit apprehensive because we are, by and large, a very left-wing department, and I wasn’t entirely sure how they’d react to such a revelation. (As always, however, they were wonderful!)
It was a mixture of anticipation, frustration, joy, and dread.
Nonetheless, I stuck with it and soon the school break arrived. For most of the break, I kinda lollygagged around and didn’t accomplish much, aside from working on my room’s appearance a bit and doing any final preparations. During the holiday, my friend and fellow traveler Ryan e-mailed our group (the Episcopal Chaplaincy at Boston College) in search of a place to stay the night before our flight, so I offered up my place. After he arrived, we ate out at a kosher restaurant and watched the movie Munich, which depicted, among other things, violent Palestinian resistance against Israel (essentially, a group of freedom fighters took as hostages a group of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympics in Munich). After seeing the movie, my first thought was, “I so should not have watched this before my trip!” I was, indeed, a little bit spooked. All the same, however, any fear was greatly outweighed by my excitement.
The next day, Ryan and I made our way to the airport and checked in. Going through security was an adventure in itself. We had to put everything (including shoes) in the boxes to be scanned and go through the metal detector in our socks! Once that was over, we proceeded to the gate for our flight to Newark, NJ, where we’d board our connecting flight to Tel Aviv, Israel. Since we had such a long wait, some of us got the chance to socialize a bit, and I had the joy of getting to know Claire better. We even did a photo for an Ocean Spray commercial:
(You see, they offered us beverages on the flight to Newark, and one of us had this idea for a commercial, so I got Claire to save the can so that I could take a picture. As happy as she looks, though, I think she was happy to get rid of the can once I’d taken a snapshot.) We eventually made our way to the gate for our connecting flight and soon hopped on the plane to Israel, which would be longer than any flight I’d taken before…