We got home this afternoon around 2 pm. Security in Israel went fine, although I think Patrick was waiting for the other shoe to drop. There was a moment when they pulled out one of our luggages and started to search it. I went up to see what was going on, and Patrick kept saying, "You need to not be here." I think he was afraid they would detain him, and he didn't want me to be associated with him. How sweet. There was no way I was going to let him be alone for a minute. It turned out that there was a book that they pulled out and examined, rubbed with their detector, then put right back and sent us on our way. Weird, I know. But that's El Al security.
The flight was 13 hours of cramped misery, bad food, and a seatmate on Patrick's other side who kept needing to go to the bathroom. I thought she was going to ask to sit in my aisle seat, but there was no way I was giving that up (another thing I have in common with my good friend Class-Factotum).
We arrived in Newark at 5:30 in the morning. We were done with everything and on our way to the next gate by 7:30, including the trip back through security that my sweet Patrick made so that we could check a third bag in order to save the Tishbi Winery jelly we bought for my Dad. We had it in our carry on from Tel Aviv, which was fine since we bought it in the duty free shop, but we got stopped in security in Newark. Our choices were to go back and check one of our carry ons, or to let it go. Since my Dad worked at the Tishbi winery as a teenager, I was very loath to let it go. We had like 4 hours before our flight, so Patrick my hero volunteered to go back through and check it (well, I sort of volunteered him since I had already checked my allotment of 2 free bags, but he went mostly willingly).
So we arrived home about 2 pm (Thanks, T, for picking us up!), and went to Tanya and Mike's house for Shabbat. Alina and her family were there, so it was a mini-reunion of our group. Tanya made the most delicious dishes spiced with the blends she picked up in Israel, so even the food was a continuation of the trip. Saying the blessings, lighting the candles, the spirit of Shabbat was felt so acutely. It was a beautiful reminder of how the trip inspired me, and a great way to mark my transition back to life here. I hope I can contnue to keep that connection.