Thursday, November 19, 2009


Back in Boston, just in time for winter. What the hell was I thinking? Why didn’t I spend the summer and fall in New England, and then head to Israel in the winter? Why did I go to the Desert for the hottest months and then return to Boston for the coldest?

I flew back Saturday night and arrived in Philadelphia in time for sunrise. We had some mechanical issues on the connecting flight, requiring us to de-plane and apparently steal another aircraft from an unknowing group of passengers. The delay, which really only took about an hour in total, had the effect of visibly annoying a large percentage of the American passengers. There was lots of sighing, eye rolling, and complaining at the injustice of it all.

I don’t know if it was my lack of sleep, the surreal state of mind that is a common side effect of transcontinental travel, or a [Middle-East-induced] newfound tolerance for logistical mishaps, but for some reason I couldn’t share in my fellow passengers’ collective distress. I just sat there, content to be reading Love in the Time of Cholera, and figured we’d get there sooner or later, Insha Allah.

We did. And it’s good to be back. It’s funny the things you miss, without even realizing it…like being able to understand what people are saying, even if they’re not talking to you directly. I mean, it’s not that I make a habit of eavesdropping, but it’s nice to feel like I could, if I wanted to.

The surrealism of boarding a plane in the Middle East, going to sleep, and waking up in America was heightened by a phone call that I received just after landing at Logan. My college roommate, who I love dearly but who’s residence on the other coast prevents me from seeing her often enough, was coincidentally in Boston, staying at the Ritz. [Yes, the Ritz Carleton…just off the Boston Common. The circumstances by which she ended up there are surreal in and of themselves, but unfortunately folks, that is not my gossip to share.] Anyway, I headed over to where the other half lives [or rather, where they stay when they come to Boston], feeling under-dressed and very broke for a wonderful, if incongruous, welcome home.

Since then, surrealism has been slowly dissipating. More often than not, everything seems totally normal and I kindof feel like I never left Boston…except for that reoccurring conversation:

“Oh! You’re back! How was your trip?!”

[Holy shit, where do I even begin? I feel like telling them to read my blog.]

“Um…good. The Middle East is a crazy place.”

“Did you have a lot of fun?”

[Fun…hmm. Not exactly the first word that comes to mind when I think about Cairo, orJerusalem, or the West Bank, but somehow I have a feeling that’s not really where this conversation is going. Better to go with the stock answer:]

“Yea, for sure.”

“Cool. Did you take a lot of pictures? Are you glad to be back?”

“Yes and…um…yes?”


In the next few days, I’ll try to fill in the missing posts from my last few weeks in the Middle East.

Coming Soon:

I heart Dahab

Abdul Aziz Abu Fayed

Climbing Insha-Allah

Israel Road Trip Part 1: Eilat à J-Lem

Israel Road Trip Part 2: The North

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