Well, I've been really putting my immune system through a lot. 23 hour days working on conference planning, extensive travel across time zones, inconsistent food choices and eating schedule... the list goes on. Therefore it wasn't very surprising that when I got up at 4:30 am in the morning to catch a 6:00 am train from Ravenna to Rome, the starts of a cold that I had been fighting since I left the country blossomed into a full blown experience of death.
I tried to balance seeing what I wanted to see in Rome with taking care of myself, but the synagogue and the catacombs came first. Perhaps I didn't have to push myself quite so hard since both days were plagued by rain and fridged temperatures but I saw what I wanted to see... down to the very last church that housed Michelangelo's Moses with Horns!
So when I got to the airport on Tuesday, October 26th, I was sick.
Because of the way that the air currents work around the world, it takes a good deal longer to travel from east to west, than west to east. My trip over to Italy had taken about 8 hrs. I had watched a movie, read, worked on a paper, and slept quite a deal. The trip was tolerable and I arrived in Italy in not bad shape.
The trip home consisted of an 11 hour transatlantic flight. None of the movies worked. The cabin temperature peaked at what felt like 90 degrees Fahrenheit. The women behind me refused to let me put my seat into recline and when I was the last person to be fed for dinner (on the entire plane) they had run out of entrees. On top of all this I was feeling miserable and sick.
At one point, I started to laugh.
Imagine what it would be like if our spirits were still conscious after our death. Waking up underground in your coffin, your spirit could converse with other spirits lying around you, but you couldn't really move around. On a hot summer day, you could feel the heat and stank of the people around you while all the spirits complained to one other. There wouldn't be much to do, no movies or entertainment. No, you'd just be sitting around trying to pass the time and complaining about what there was to complain about.
Basically...? My plane ride was an experience of death after life. And not the heaven kind. I spent a good deal to time mulling over this parallel I was drawing and laughing at the people around me who played quite conveniently into my day dream.
In the end the air stewardess was my saving grace. She brought me some magical Italian cold medicine that stopped my coughing and helped me sleep for a few hours. She also found me some cheese and crackers and brought me cup after cup of mint tea. I snuggled into my little coffin like seat and closed my eyes to the world. 11 hours later we touched ground and I have never in my life been so thankful to get out of a plane!