I became a road warrior by fluke.

As a newlywed and then young mother living in Israel, a flight was a once-a-year experience. With husband and children, we flew on whichever airline offered the cheapest fare from Tel Aviv to anywhere on the eastern coast of North America.

“What’s the big deal? We can just rent a car in the airport and drive six, seven, eight hours,” we blithely said as we confirmed our booking. (Note to self: Never make travel plans in your home city at 8:30 p.m., after a quiet supper, when the kids are sleeping. Those same ideas that sounded attractive around Shabbos Chanukah will come back to haunt you when, after 18 hours of travel time, you’re standing at the Hertz counter with five crabby/sick/nauseous/dirty kids, you and your spouse are no longer on speaking terms, and you still have a seven-hour drive ahead of you.)

So that was basically my flying experience. Fairly normal for a kollel couple in Israel who spend Pesach with family in America each year. But the years passed, and even this annual trip trickled to an end.

My husband left kollel to work in his family’s diamond business, and couldn’t take off the whole month of Nissan. And all our children graduated to full fare tickets. En famille travel would cost at least $7K… And really, at some point, wasn’t it time to bite the bullet and make Pesach ourselves?

Fast-forward some 20 years. My grandfather was ailing, and I booked the cheapest ticket available to go spend time with him. After living in Israel for so long, my definitions had shifted. A big trip meant Tel Aviv to New York. Anything afterward (New York to Seattle, for example) is in America, basically next door. So when my husband asked me if I’d go to the Tucson Gem Fair to find some sapphires for a ring he was designing, I didn’t bat an eyelid.

Wasn’t I on a solid land mass? No oceans to cross? What was the big deal? My biggest concern was figuring out what to wear, and getting a crash course in Sapphires for Dummies. The rest, as they say, is history.

One might think that I would have or should have been a drop apprehensive about entering the workforce after a 20-year hiatus. Maybe I should have experienced a little trepidation about entering a field in which I had no prior experience. (Did resetting my engagement ring qualify as “jewelry experience”?) But I blithely disregarded all this, along with the fact that I really couldn’t add past 20 without making a mistake.

Before I flew off, my husband patiently tried to teach me basic fractions.

It went something like this: If a diamond costs $5,000 per carat, then how much is a 1.30 carat stone?

Um…

It was definitely more interesting than calculating cups of flour in recipes. Yet without a calculator, I’d be a lost cause.

But forget calculations. I had something far more important to worry about… What would I would wear? (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 586)