There were 81 singles on the flight (I didn't count, they kept repeating it) and they put us all together. I was actually sitting near Avital (someone I know from high school) and a couple of other people I met while waiting. It was a good group of people in my section. Couples and families were at the back; the back of the plane actually looked like a playgroup-- kids playing in the seats and aisles, snack wrappers, crayons, toys...
During the flight, people from Misrad Hapnim came around to people who had not done the paperwork earlier and did the paperwork then-- checking your name, that all your info is correct. I tried to sleep but was not too successful.
And then we got to the landing.
They started playing "V'shavu Banim" and "Come Back" and it was just...I think I was trying to figure out if I was officially Israeli from the time I landed or if I was Israeli from the time I got on the plane. It was...everyone clapped and people were videoing...and it was just...overwhelming and amazing and intense and happy and sad and pretty much on par with every other emotional moment involving my aliyah-- very, very bittersweet.
We got off the plane-- there were steps for us to go down. You know like the president comes off the plane on steps that pull up to the plane and he comes down and waves and all that? Yeah, that's kind of what it was like. There were stairs for us to come down and I walked out the door, onto the little platform before the stairs, took a couple steps down and just stopped. I wanted to remember that moment forever. I didn't take a picture, but it's in my mind. Looking down, some people had already gotten out and were down the stairs, there were people on the stairs. I kind of felt like I was in a slow-motion or surreal sort of time warp. I got out of it, walked down the stairs, and then it hit me-- "Wait, I've just made aliyah. I think this qualifies as a "shehecheyanu moment." ["shehechayanu" is a blessing that is made on special occasions, such as holidays, new fruits, new clothing, etc.] Rabbi Fass (one of the founders and the head of Nefes B'Nefesh) was at the bottom of the stairs. I turned to him and said, "Rabbi Fass? Do I make a shehechyanu?" He said, "You can." On the video you can see me saying the bracha [blessing]. I was so excited. I was making my first bracha in Israel as an Israeli, and it was shehechyanu. How appropriate for such an occasion.
We took pictures in front of the plane and in groups, and then they bussed us over to the old terminal (Terminal 1) for the Welcome Ceremony. I had my own welcoming committee-- Avigayil, Basi, Yosef, Kaufy, and Scott (of Gfish fame), as well as seeing other people who came for other olim and to welcome the olim in general. When we got to the crowd there was someone with a big shofar and, of course, more music was playing.
I got inside and was whelmed. Very whelmed. Exhausted and exhilarated too. I think I was in a daze/half asleep for most of the ceremony. Yosef brought me an ice coffee which was really what I needed-- something sweet and cold to wake me up. About five sips in it got to be too sweet and I drank the rest of it slowly throughout the ceremony. Unfortunately Basi had an early class and Avigayil had to drive her so they couldn't stay. But Kaufy, Yosef, and Scott were around-- Scott said hi and then I have no clue where he went (hey, Scott? Where did you disappear to?). The ceremony was long, a lot of people spoke, two people got their teudot oleh on stage, and then the ceremony was over and the people who came on the NBN bus went back to Jerusalem and all the olim went to get our teudot oleh (well, one person from each family)-- we went up some stairs, into a room, and then they called our names. We got our teudot, taxi vouchers, and first sal klita payments. Then we went to get our luggage (eventually it all came through. There was a LOT of stuff), and to the taxis.
I had a taxi to myself which was nice. I did not want to have the "smush five people and all their stuff into one taxi" situation-- thank goodness that didn't happen. Got home (Chashmonaim) and got all my stuff inside.
Went earlier to Jerusalem than I had planned because Andrea needed my help with Squishy, and then EliAvi/AviEli (depending on who Squishy is talking to) got married and then I went back to Chashmonaim. Exhausted. I think I was sort of only half-conscious during the wedding. But what I remember of it was beautiful. The chuppah I totally remember, and that was just...wow. Beautiful. Avi was an amazing kallah.