Cleared For Takeoff

Dearest Rachel –

It was one of those silly things that we would occasionally quote at each other when the circumstances warranted it – which is to say, when we were completely prepared and ready to leave on a trip:

And it would seem that we finally have clearance (Clarence?) once again.

As close as we were, and as much as I’ve been telling you since, you might have this figured out already by now, but just in case, I might as well explain myself all the same. You’ll recall the plans set in motion by Junior and Brian about assembling yet another church tour group to Israel, to see the sites where everything happened back in the day (with more areas literally being uncovered all the time – indeed, just this week, a small tablet was uncovered with curses written upon it, as well as the name of Yahweh, appearing to date back to around the Mosaic period, indicating that written Hebrew was in fact a thing that far back, and further validating the historicity of Jewish scripture). Of course, that was a month before the Omicron variant burst onto the world stage, with much fanfare and fear, scuttling the plans for the time being.

However, Junior did go over there at about the time that had been planned, along with his dad and Jordan. Evidently, it was a reconnaissance mission for the church as whole, to see how soon we could actually resume making travel plans there. When they returned, I spoke to Pastor Scott about their findings, and lo and behold, he reported that Israel had cut back on its regulations regarding requirements for visitors. Once upon a time, they were on the cutting edge of vaccinations and boosters, being one of the first to offer (if not mandate – I’m barely sure about our own country’s rules, let alone that of a place halfway around the world) the second booster to its citizens. It would seem unlikely, then, that having placed such faith in the vaccines, they would be among the first to all but give up on them, and declare Covid to be endemic. And yet, here we were; according to Pastor Scott, they no longer required one to be vaccinated in order to travel there.

With that being said, I sent in deposits for both Daniel and myself. Finally, the two of us would be able to travel together. I’ve felt somewhat bad about leaving him behind this past year, as I’ve been gallivanting to various places by myself, but it’s been obvious thus far that even traveling to ‘the free state of Florida,’ as it now tends to bill itself (with a fair amount of justification, to be sure) still requires obeying certain rules that Daniel simply refuses to at this point. I’m still not quite sure that the mask mandate, although rescinded almost everywhere else, will be lifted from airports by November – after all, we still have to take off our shoes as we go through the gates here in the States. But there’s always hope.

However, upon sending in our separate deposits, I got a brochure detailing our proposed itinerary, and on it was a statement that we would need to provide proof of vaccination as part of our necessary paperwork.

Aw, rats.

Of course, Daniel was, as always, convinced that the light of truth would shine and that policies would change between then and when we would have to leave, but I was crestfallen. I’d gotten assurances that the restrictions had come down, and here it was on paper (or rather, in .pdf format) that they had not, in fact. And that deposit was non-refundable. Best to make plans to insure the trip again – although whether they would reimburse me for something that was theoretically within Daniel’s power to remedy, I wasn’t hopeful. At the same time, I figured I would contact the travel agent Junoir and the team were working with, just to make sure it was true, but also, to find out if the restrictions might possibly be lifted by the time we were to go. Certainly, Covid has disappeared from the front pages these days, and most everyone has dispensed with the once-ubiquitous precautions – even in Trader Joe’s.

And once again, a miracle: she responded with word that the brochure was already out of date, having been created before the requirement had been rescinded – and who knows when that happened, but presumably it was before I spoke with Pastor Scott about it. It no longer matters if Daniel’s gotten the shot or not, he’s welcome to Israel just like the rest of us. When I relayed the news to him, he acknowledged that this was good news, but he still did so with the mildly smug attitude that Han Solo gave Leia upon her declaration of love for him at the end of the Empire Strikes Back: “I know.”

If I wasn’t so pleased at how things have worked out, I’d be slightly annoyed at him. But maybe I’m just miffed at being shown up by him. After all, he was right in his optimism, and I was wrong in my pessimism (although I’d have called it ‘realism,’ except that when reality doesn’t conform to it, can I really do that?)

Granted, this doesn’t apply to certain other travel plans I’ve made for this year; Israel may have seen the light, but things are still rather dim elsewhere. I’ll fill you in on the details a little later on, but I’ve got a busy day ahead to deal with, so for now…

…wish me luck, honey. I’m going to need it.

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I am Rachel's husband. Was. I'm still trying to deal with it. I probably always will be.

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