Whatever she ended up doing in life, she’d do it as herself. If nothing else, she’d learned that this year in seminary
Chava lifted a lilac-colored scarf with a delicate overlay of lace and sequins. “Pretty,” she commented as she began to fold it.
Devoiry, arms deep inside a packing box, glanced up. “Thanks. It’s one of my favorites. You’ve got good taste, Ma.”
“Pshh. What a compliment!”
Chava had offered to help pack up the store out of a sense of duty, and she’d arrived this morning expecting to find Devoiry sniffling over every item. She certainly hadn’t anticipated this lighthearted mother-daughter bonding. In fact, she couldn’t remember the last time she and Devoiry had been so relaxed and playful around each other. Had they ever?
Devoiry was holding a sequined handbag with a big silver clasp. “This is what I’m planning to give ZeeZee as a thank-you gift. What do you think?”
Chava nodded. “Good choice.” Not that she knew a blessed thing about fashion, but she trusted Devoiry’s taste. “She’s flying home for Pesach tomorrow.”
“She said she’d come by during her afternoon break, together with Ilana and Dafna, to help me clear this place out.”
Resolving to be out of there before they arrived, Chava glanced at the empty shelf and asked, “What’s next?”
Devoiry turned thoughtful eyes to her. “I’m not sure,” she said. “For the time being, I’m going to go back to selling out of my home.”
It took Chava a second to realize Devoiry had misinterpreted her question. “That sounds wise.” She winced, hoping the words weren’t too mother-ish. After a pause, she added, “Let me know how I can help.”
Devoiry laughed. “Want to run a sale in your home one evening?”
Chava knew Devoiry was being facetious, but she felt she owed it to her to say, “Sure. Tell me what day works for you.”
Devoiry’s eyes widened. “You’d invite your friends to a luxury tichel sale?”
“I can’t promise they’ll be your best customers.”
“But… I mean… ” Devoiry stared at her. “You wouldn’t be mortified to tell your friends that your daughter sells such frivolous things?”
Chava waited for a moment before answering. “Are you kidding? Why do you think I’d host the sale if not to show off my talented daughter?”
Her sincerity must have come across because Devoiry grinned. “Watch out, I’m gonna take you up on this.”
“Just not too close to Pesach, please.”
Chava didn’t know if either of them expected this sale to actually happen. But she was glad they’d reached a place where they could at least talk as if it would.
Devoiry wrapped ZeeZee’s handbag in tissue paper. “So, nu, Mommy, what about you? Educational director of a teacher’s seminary — that’s quite a step up.”
“Yes, I’m excited about the opportunity.” Chava caught her reflection in the ornate mirror propped against the floor and realized she really was. She smiled at herself. “Rabbi Freund’s also asked me to do some teacher training as well. Giving workshops, mentoring some of the younger teachers.” Maybe she’d be able to pick up some tips from them, too.
She eyed Devoiry, who’d walked over to her prized velvet-cushioned chair in the corner and was touching it, eyebrows furrowed, and decided to say the thought aloud. Show her your own vulnerability. “I’m hoping these young teachers can also teach me something about relating to this generation. They do it so well.”
Devoiry turned toward her mother. “You… you’re… what do you mean? All the girls love you.”
“No, I’ve been having some trouble recently remembering — appreciating — that there isn’t just one ideal path in life. It’s caused me to misstep with my students.” She took a breath. “And, maybe, with my daughter as well.” She caught Devoiry’s eye. “See? Even at my age, I still have growing up to do.”
Devoiry reached out and squeezed Chava’s hand.
They drew apart as the door burst open, and ZeeZee bounced in. “Hey, Devoiry! I got here early! My last morning class was Ramban, and since I haven’t a clue what we’ve been learning the entire… Oh!” She stopped short and blushed as she noticed Chava. “Hi, Mrs. Edelman.”
“Hi, ZeeZee. Thanks for coming to help Devoiry. And to even sacrifice your Ramban class for it!” Chava’s eyes twinkled.
ZeeZee winked. “You’re also helping her pack up?”
Chava stood up. “I was, but I’m going to head out now. Enjoy.” She waved at Devoiry and picked up her purse. Then she turned to ZeeZee. “I expect you back in time for my Navi class, of course.”
“Of course!” ZeeZee’s eyes widened. “Like I’d ever cut your class!”
Tammy walked into her apartment, threw her bag on the floor, and sank onto the couch.
“How was your last night?”
Tammy started. “Yehuda! I didn’t expect you to be awake.”
Yehuda sat down next to her. “I thought you’d appreciate the company.”
“Thanks. Tonight was… hard.”
Confusing was a better word. The girls had thrown her a surprise party and had gone around the room telling her how much they’d miss her. Some were even crying.
“Look what the girls gave me.” She pulled out of the bag a big porcelain teddy bear holding a cookie jar, with the words “Cookie Thursday” written on it.
“Nice.” Yehuda smiled. “I can’t pretend I’m gonna miss those Thursday nights. But you probably will, huh?”
“Yeah.” Tammy looked down at the cookie jar in her hands. “I am making the right decision, right?” He was silent, and after a pause, she said, “I’m making the right decision. It’s just still hard to face my failure.”
Her thoughts were interrupted by the sound of whimpering from the baby’s room. “Party’s over,” she said, yawning, as she lifted herself up.
Yehuda’s face suddenly turned serious. “We experienced lots of setbacks before we had Shimmy. But it made you that much more awesome a mother when the time finally came.”
Tammy’s cheeks turned warm, as a slow smile spread across her face. “Thanks, Yehuda,” she said softly.
ZeeZee pulled her eyes away from the airplane window; she could no longer see the outline of Eretz Yisrael. With a little sigh, she unbuckled her seat belt. Next to her, Chana Malka was fervently saying Tehillim. Rolling her eyes, ZeeZee carefully unfolded a well-worn paper.
27 Totally Awesome Chavayot You’d Better Not Come Home from Israel Until You’ve Done. She moved her finger down the list. One through eight were checked off; so were 11, 14, 17, and 22. Pathetic.
She sighed. There was always after Pesach. Or, maybe, she could convince her mother to let her come back a second year. Or make aliyah. She grinned as she pictured having that conversation. “Ma, I’ve decided when I go back after Pesach, I’m joining a sheep farm in the Shomron. I’ll be a shepherdess just like the Imahos. Not even Chana Malka is that frum!”
She pulled out a pen to add that conversation to her bucket list, then stopped. In her mind, she saw Mrs. Edelman, Mrs. Hurwitz — all her sincere, idealistic teachers. Maybe moving to Eretz Yisrael wasn’t something to joke about? Maybe she should replace this entire list with things like Help an old lady cross the street?
“What’s that?” Chana Malka was pointing at the paper.
A sudden fear gripped her. Had seminary sucked all the fun out of life? Was she becoming Chana Malka, who couldn’t recognize a joke if it did cartwheels in front of her?
ZeeZee folded up the list and clenched her hand around it. No, she’d never be Chana Malka. Sure, she still had a lot of thinking and discovering and growing to do, and the where and what and how of her future was still a big question mark. But whatever she ended up doing in life, she’d do it as herself. If nothing else, she’d learned that this year in seminary.
Chana Malka was eyeing her clenched fist suspiciously, and ZeeZee said, “It’s nothing. Just my rough draft of your shidduch résumé.”
Her niece’s eyes popped open. “My…?”
“Of course. It’s Pesach already. Can’t hurt to start early, right?”
“I’ve already shown it to that lady sitting across from us. She has a son in Brisk.”
“Shh! You don’t want her to think you have a temper. Maybe you’d better go back to saying Tehillim.” And ZeeZee smiled to herself as she leaned back in her seat, closed her eyes, and settled in for the ride.
(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 778)
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