Yom Kippur, the Jewish holiday of repentance, had barely been over for 14 hours and I was already fighting with my husband. Has my Teflon-coated mind not retained a single shred of serenity? Repentance? Determination to be better? To do better?
The day after Yom Kippur, my husband and I were flying back from New Jersey to Florida. Loaded down with six pieces of luggage, my husband was already irritated. We arrived at Newark Airport with what I thought was plenty of time to spare before our flight. My first inkling that something was amiss was when the skycap couldn't find our 11:30 a.m. reservation and directed us inside.
"That's strange," my husband noted, as we struggled to drag all six pieces of luggage through the revolving doors. "You checked in, right?" he asked me casually.
I started to reply, but he was momentarily distracted by the long length of the special services line we would soon be joining. So I wisely let the question go unanswered.
Minutes later, the amused gate agent cleared up the misunderstanding. "Your flight is leaving at 10:30 a.m. NOT 11:30 a.m. And now, since it's 10:04 a.m., for all practical purposes, you have missed your flight."
Long story short, after 40 minutes of wrangling and cajoling, with no probable stand-by seats available, we were booked on the same 10:30 a.m. flight the following day.
My husband was miffed. Annoyed with me for not fixing my computer issue so that I could have checked in online and caught the error in flight time. Annoyed that I had overpacked. Annoyed that it wasn't a nonstop flight. Annoyed that we had to retrace our steps. Annoyed that we no longer had assigned seats.
We sat in stony silence the entire cab ride back to Short Hills.
I had fasted on Yom Kippur. By noon on that day, I had a hard time concentrating on anything meaningful. I was sleepy from lack of caffeine and, by 3 p.m., a ravaging headache was pounding my temples from lack of hydration. Once again, I was having trouble concentrating on anything meaningful. But this time it was anger, not hunger, that was the culprit. I was angry with my husband for being angry at me. I fumed. I smoldered. I sent him dirty looks, which he ignored.
In spite of my rage, I forced myself to ignore my uncomfortable frame of mind. Instead, I pondered the Yom Kippur message of looking deeper at ourselves in an effort to learn from past transgressions and failures.To consider both where we are and how far we have strayed from the right and righteous path we have chosen for ourselves.
Do I always do the right thing?
Do I always do my best?
Would it have come out better if I had tried harder?
I had to admit that it wasn't the first time I had mixed-up plane reservations. I have gotten the wrong day. I have gotten the wrong time. I have gotten the wrong airline. And it wasn't the second time. And though missing flights wasn't the norm, I had to admit it was not uncommon. And it usually engendered a casual reaction from my kids like "It's just mom being mom." However, they weren't the ones inconvenienced by my mistake.
In my marriage, I'm the organizer, the energized bunny, the keeper of the calendar, and the guardian of the details. My husband relies on me to make the travel plans, pack the suitcases and double check the times.
"I'll fix him," I vow childishly, as we head back to my son's house. "Let him do it all himself and see how easy it is to slip up on a detail or two."
But the Yom Kippur teachings kept poking at me. It's not about blame. It's not about harboring resentment and plotting revenge. It's about reminding ourselves that we can be better. We can find our way forward through the thistles that often block our way. It's about understanding and respect and making our actions more positive.
Hours later, as the afternoon is waning, I walk into the family room where my husband is engrossed in a magazine. I tap his shoulder gently. "Next time," I say softly, "let's plan the trip together."
He looks up. And stares hard into my face. "That's a good idea," he murmurs. He squeezes my hand and smiles. I smile back, too.
Iris is available to speak on a variety of topics, focusing on self-help, self-improvement and self-empowerment. For more information, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org
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