I sit on my 14th floor balcony overlooking the Mediterranean Sea as I contemplate my last 24 hours. As I write this, friends back in Delaware are bidding on property to relocate our church – they have the stress I have the balmy breeze of Israel.
The travel was good. The cast of characters for this 10-day-drama are Yvonne and Pam Bradley (of the Pennsylvania and New York Bradley’s), Judi (my wife) and me. Yvonne Judi and I met at our house to be chauffeured to JFK by my brother-in-law and sister-in-law Kevin and Bobbi (I’ll let you figure out which is which. They play supporting roles here, but they are critical to the plot if we hope to get home when we return.
We flew out of JFK on Aeroflot (Russian Airlines). The cost is about half of the other options, but the real appeal is the name…it’s just fun to say. Go ahead and say it a few times while I wait. You know you want to. Now wasn’t that fun. We happened onto this fantastic deal because of Pam the penny pincher. She is an expert and finding bargains. She pulled a quarter out of her purse and I am certain I saw a tear in Washington’s eye she had such a grip. Knowing her skills she probably got 30¢ back in change from whatever she bought.
The airplane was only half full…thank you Corona (the virus not the beer). Yet, with all those empty seats, Judi and I got wedged in next to a man occupying a seat and a half (not counting his copious collection of travel essentials). After being crushed into me for takeoff, Judi bailed on me looking for more spacious pastures. To fill the void created by my wife’s departure I inherited a new best friend. He immediately expanded his one and a half seat territory to a luxurious 2 seats with more room for road warrior gear (pillows, face masks, eye covers, blankets, magazines and the like).
When the nesting was completed, he decided it would be nice if the two of us chatted until we got to Moscow. He never put it in those words, he just ignored any effort on my part to read, watch a movie, or sleep. He soldiered on with a steady patter on every topic from politics, to religion, to living at home with your mother when you’re in your forties. He is a Russian Jew from New Jersey with many strongly held and loudly expressed ideas. In the brief nine-hour jaunt to Moscow we solved welfare and healthcare in the US, resolved the Jewish occupation in Palestine, fixed labor laws, affirmative action, and devised the most efficient methods for controlling the Corona Virus. Of course, when I say “we” I am giving myself far too much credit since I don’t know the answers to any of these dilemmas and my role was mostly as a non-speaking reservoir into which the wisdom of the ages could be dumped. I must confess on more than one occasion when the monologue rose to an evangelical fervor, I would stoke the flames of omniscience with the poker of sarcasm, obstinance, or befuddlement which never failed to yield the version of diatribe that made the miles fly by.