I am leaving for Jerusalem tomorrow. I will be covering the Icare4Autism Conference and am meeting Kamila and Henry Markram, the neuroscientists and creators of The Intense World Theory for Autism. I intend to continue to post as usual, Monday through Friday, but because of the time change and depending on my level of jet lag, my posting times may be a bit wonky.
I am very nervous about this trip. Not because of the traveling, but because we will be away from Emma for a full week, which marks the longest we’ve spent away from her since she was born ten and a half years ago. I have gone over our itinerary with her. I have spoken to her about how many days before we return, we have studied the calendar together. We have discussed what she will do while we are gone. But still, I am nervous. Whooooo. Breathe.
Today I pack while trying to remember to breathe. Emma will be fine. She will be okay. Breathe. Try not to panic.
I’ve never been to Jerusalem and am excited that Richard will be accompanying me. This was where we had intended to go for our honeymoon, (with our then nine month old son, Nic in tow, making it less a honeymoon and more an insanely, ambitious trip with a baby) had made our reservations to spend Christmas Day and the following week at the King David Hotel, then had planned to spend New Years Eve in Giza at a hotel overlooking the pyramids, a week in Cairo, then a side jaunt to Lebanon and Petra before returning to Jerusalem. In all we had planned to be gone for three weeks. Two months before our wedding the intifada broke out and we were advised, because we were traveling with a baby, not to go. We still have all the guide books with their dog-eared pages marking the places we’d hoped to see.
This time we will have just three days of sight-seeing before the conference begins. But, as with so many things that have to do with Emma and Autism, the synchronicity of the following events is not completely lost on me. Just over eight months ago our lives and by extension Emma’s radically changed because of the links I was finding to Autistic blogs. I’ve shared those posts and blogs on here. During that same period I came across the Markram’s Intense World Theory and Richard and I, through our research, learned they were going to be in Jerusalem in August presenting their work at a conference. At the time I didn’t know it was a conference focused on Autism. I remember Richard and I joked with each other, wouldn’t it be great to figure out a way to go to Jerusalem and meet them? It was a joke, literally, neither of us for a moment seriously considered the idea. And life continued.
This past spring, I was invited to be on a panel and give a talk at the AutCom Conference in Baltimore this coming October. I accepted the invitation. And again life continued. Not long after that invitation, I received a letter from the “State of Israel” asking if I would like to be their guest to cover the ICare4Autism Conference in Jerusalem this August. When I received that letter I read it to Richard and we just looked at one another. I will never forget the expression on Richard’s face. It was a slow motion grin that didn’t end with me saying something like, “How weird is this?”
Sometimes life throws stuff at you and you know, you just know you have to figure out a way to grab the opportunity. So we did. And now we’re going. How exciting is that?