I swipe my screen. One email from Worldwide Appliances. …the items you requested are out of stock
I meander through the aisles of Evergreen aimlessly. I can’t help wondering if everyone else is also thinking, What would a grown-up buy? Or is it just me?
Taking a surreptitious peek into the woman’s cart across from me, I notice pasta, spaghetti sauce, and cans of something, maybe corn. Not a bad idea, stock up the pantry. I make my way to the canned goods and start loading corn and pickles and mushrooms in. Rice, pasta, couscous join; I’m basically tossing things over my shoulder at this point.
Mike appears, carrying a basket of dairy products — I’d asked him to get chicken, but whatever — looking very pleased with himself. An expression that promptly changes to a look of confusion as he stares at my wagon.
“Was there a nuclear warning I didn’t hear about? What’s with the stockpiling?”
I turn around and blink. My cart is filled to the brim with dried goods. I groan, and Mike starts cracking up.
I try to look indignant, but Mike is laughing too hard; I can’t help joining him.
“ ’Kay, can you put back, um, two-thirds?” I ask Mike, wiping my eyes. “I think I just got a work email.”
Still chuckling, he pulls out three boxes of lasagna noodles and sets them on the shelf.
Shaking my head, I swipe my screen. One email from Worldwide Appliances. …the items you requested are out of stock.
What? No way, I received my confirmation yesterday. This puts me one day behind schedule! I steady myself against a shelf of cereal boxes and take a deep breath. It’s fine. It will be fine.
I need to decide — do I find a different seller or choose different appliances for the showroom kitchen? I’m not sure how much I trust Worldwide right now; their website has obviously not been updated. I spy Mike checking out the granola section.
“You like the one with raisins in it,” I say tiredly, handing him a bag.
He places it in the cart and looks at me.
“What’s wrong?” he asks, forehead crinkled in concern.
“Just an inventory mix-up at work.” I feel bad, I’m killing the mood. “Should we finish all this adulting and go get frozen yogurt?”
Mike looks at his chassan watch. “It’s dinnertime.”
I wink. “Exactly.”
So this is what rock bottom feels like. Toby knows she’s being ridiculous and dramatic, but she can’t help herself. She actually just called her newly married daughter and asked, nay, begged her to have lunch with her. And then sent her a follow-up text to ask if she had time for just a quick coffee. Which, incidentally, Bayla did not.
What is wrong with her?
She’s a grown woman, she has friends, a shul, grandchildren, and yes, a lovely husband. So why is she acting like the last pick in gym class?
She gets to her feet resolutely. That’s it, she tells herself. The pity party is officially over. She grabs a Sherman and Adams pen from Aryeh’s desk, the notepad from next to the phone, and settles onto her favorite chaise.
Time for a good ol’ fashioned list.
Goals for Third Act
She smirks at herself and continues.
Empty closets in kids’ rooms
Threaten Encourage kids to come pick up their junk
Fill empty closets with gorgeous new clothing that children get zero opinion on
Join Esther’s improv class that she’s always raving about
Finish Sefer Tehillim weekly
Work in the garden more. Get the vegetable patch going again
Finish the scrapbook started six years ago
Attend Rebbetzin Grossbaum’s ahavas Yisrael shiur
Really learn how to make sourdough
She takes a deep breath, and closes her eyes for a moment before writing
Work on forgiving Aryeh and focus on just enjoying your time together
Shira is getting engaged! I overheard her yesterday discussing with Lara taking off time. I’m really excited for her. She’s waited such a long time. And it’s been so hard for her.
Should I tell her I know? Or play it super cool? Hmm… I need to think about it. Either way, it’ll be nice not to be the most newly married anymore. Let someone else be in the limelight for a bit.
Which reminds me… I text Mike a quick reminder to pick up light bulbs for the second bathroom, and then, once I have my phone out, message the sisters about Ma’s uncharacteristic invite to lunch.
I head to the kitchen to prepare a salad; Nina is there cutting up grapefruit, and Breiny from purchasing is making a tea. I smile at everyone, take out a cutting board, and my phone starts to ping.
Sigh. I did not plan this well. I settle onto a bar stool and let the games begin.
Maybe there’s no cell service in Paradise.
No, no, she was on her way to Detroit to visit you and then she remembered… it’s Detroit.
I snort at that one.
You guys are hilarious. Just been busy at work!
We know, we’re kidding. Whatsup Bay?
Guys, Ma called me yesterday.
Three dots blink on and off my screen for a good minute. Well, look at that, I’ve rendered them silent.
Mimi is the first to reply. Like, to speak?
I snort again. Yes, vocal chords and everything.
Yaeli’s next. Huh. Didn’t know phones still do that.
Okay, enough of this. You should all do stand up. I didn’t even tell you the strangest part.
It gets stranger???
Yup. Ma asked me to lunch. On a Tuesday.
Well, I think I just broke the Internet. My phone pings so much, it sounds like an alarm. The others leave the kitchen, and I abandon my phone to prepare lunch. The messages aren’t going anywhere and I’m hungry.
Shira walks in.
I flash her a huge smile but she just glowers at me.
“Are you done with the cutting board?”
Uh. I look down at my pepper spread across the cutting board. “Sure, one sec.”
I spill it into my Tupperware, rinse the board, and hand it to her.
She practically grabs it from my hand.
Where’s chirpy, happy Shira of yesterday? She’s getting engaged, for crying out loud. I take a closer look at her as she attacks her cucumbers like they’re, well, me.
Her hair is blown and styled but pulled back in a scrunchie and her eyes are makeup-less in her bronzed face.
My phone pings. I forget that I’m ignoring the sisters and look down.
Worldwide Appliances again. Thank you for your order. Your items will ship shortly.
I ordered from Appliances Plus when Worldwide was out of stock. I can’t get double everything, Lara will kill me. And Shira will — oh, gosh, Shira! I glance up from my phone, but she’s gone.
Poor girl. Shidduchim troubles are the worst.
I sit down at the small table and say a quick perek of Tehillim for her.
Then I rush off to call Worldwide Appliances before I lose my job.
to be continued…
(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 789)
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