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Picture This: Chapter 3

And then before you know it, all the parties are over, and it’s just you and your new husband, sitting grumpily in a car….


So this is what a breakdown felt like.

She surveyed the kitchen. One counter was covered in recipe books, open to the desired pages, little colored tabbies holding the spots. The other counter had ingredients piled together according to dish. And that was as far as she had gotten in the past hour since returning from work.

She honestly couldn’t believe Yonah. They were hosting. Three weeks after their wedding.

“Nothing major,” he’d said earnestly. “We’re not one of those couples who go overboard and make huge matzavs that the police need to shut down. Just three Treiger boys who are sick of yeshivah food coming on Friday night. And Est, these boys have simple taste buds. Roast potatoes and barbecue chicken and they’re good.”

Roast potatoes and barbecue chicken. Was he crazy? And now, on top of everything, his best friend Pinny had gotten engaged. On a Thursday. Who has the chutzpah to get engaged on a Thursday, when there are asparagus stalks to roast and salamis to hasselback?

She took a deep breath. If she put up the soup and made the mains — a roast and, yes, barbecue chicken — she would then have 40 minutes to get ready for the l’chayim. But then she’d have to stay awake until who knows when making the sides and the tiramisu cups. She didn’t really want to stay up till all hours.

And what about Yonah? Was he supposed to stay awake with her? Peel vegetables? Put on music and schmooze? Or should he go to bed so he could be on time for Shacharis, leaving her alone to work for his friends?

Her phone pings. It was Shani. How’s the four-course dinner going? 

Oh, boy. She’d totally forgotten about supper.

An hour later, Estee was ready to go, but Yonah was still not home. She tried calling him, but his phone went straight to voicemail. To bug him or not to bug him, that was the question.

She decided to send a very chill, very casual, hey.

His reply was instantaneous. Hey you. Running a bit late, just grabbing something for l’chayim. Be home in 20.

Cute, that was so Yonah. He never showed up anywhere empty-handed.

But now she had an extra 20 minutes. Not enough time to check anything off her cooking list, but way too long to watch the clock tick as she waited for Yonah to make his appearance. She sank onto the couch and called Ma.

“Hi, Estee. How are you, sweetheart?”

Her mother always sounded so happy to hear from her. It felt good.

She settled back on the couch and grabbed a throw pillow.

“Baruch Hashem,” she said through a massive yawn. “How are you? What’s doing with Avigail’s date?”

“No date,” her mother said. “They weren’t interested. It’s fine, you know what I say…”

“A rejection is Hashem’s protection,” Estee chorused through another yawn.

“Exactly. Sweetie, why are you so exhausted? I mean shanah rishonah, but is anything else going on? You sure you don’t want to come for Shabbos?”

Estee laughed with just a tinge of hysteria.

“Ma, we’re hosting bochurim, we can’t come. Unless you want three Treiger boys as well?”

There was silence on the other end.

Then, “Did you just say you’re hosting? Estee, you got married last week.”

“Almost a month ago, actually, but yeah.”

“Is Yonah home? I want to speak to him.”

Estee gasped. “Ma! You cannot tell him anything! I’m just venting, but I’m fine. Don’t worry. I’m a big girl, I can tell him if something bothers me.”

“But this is not okay, Estee. No wonder you’re exhausted.”

A door slammed. “Est! I’m home!”

“Is that Yonah? Estee, let me speak to him.”

“No! Ma, I gotta go, love you.”

She disconnected before her mother could reply. She smiled calmly at Yonah, who raised his eyebrows, waved his Wine on The 9 bag in the air, and then ran to get ready.

Had she broken his confidence by complaining to her mother? No, she was permitted to vent.

Only, before she had been feeling stress, and now that she’d spoken to Ma, her feelings had somehow morphed into anger….

Which was a brand-new emotion when it came to Yonah.

But her mother was right. It was a huge thing of Yonah to ask of her. And honestly, why didn’t he want to preserve their newlywed bubble a bit longer? Did he not want to spend one-on-one time with her? Did he find her boring?

She would not cry; that would wreck her eye makeup.

He came back into the room, looking sharp in his new suit and a nice blue tie.

She stood up from the couch and smoothed her dress down. “Yonah, why’d you invite guests this week? We literally just got married. Ma says it’s not normal.”

And then her ever-pleasant, super-chilled husband’s face grew hard. “Well, maybe the lesson here is not to believe every word your mother says.”

Estee raised her eyebrows. “Excuse me?”

The timer on the chicken beeped, breaking the tension.

“Whatever that is, it smells amazing,” Yonah said, trying to regain his footing.

She smiled tightly. “Thanks. Ready to go?”

He jingled his keys weakly. “Yup.”

It was a warm night but the air in the car was frigid.

Yonah was confused. Where had his levelheaded wife gone, and who was this very irate woman in the car with him? He didn’t actually ask this aloud, as he did possess solid social skills, but he was tempted. Instead, he turned on Joey Newcomb’s “One Note Niggun” while Estee stared out the window.

“Crazy stuff, huh, Pinny getting engaged after four dates.”

“When you know, you know,” Estee said coldly.

He smiled at her. “Like us.”

Her face softened. “Yeah, exactly.”

They heard the music before they saw the house. “I think this might be it,” he said wryly.

Estee laughed, breaking the ice. “Ya think?”

He grabbed his wine bag. “Okay! Party time.”

Estee made a face. “For you, maybe. For me, I’m about to go mingle with a bunch of absolute strangers. But hey, that’s the fun of shanah rishonah, right?”

Yonah stopped. “I feel bad. We won’t stay too long, okay?”


They split ways at the entrance, Yonah disappearing to the dining room, and Estee headed reluctantly toward the kitchen.

She was not down. There were around 40 screaming girls in the kitchen, all shrieking and hugging and jumping up and down. While it brought back happy memories of her own l’chayim, she was reluctant to enter the fray.

She sidled over to a fruit platter and picked up a cluster of grapes. As long as she didn’t know anyone, she was free to snack as she chose.

She backed up a bit, turning to find a table, when she smacked right into the kallah herself.

“Hi!” she said breathlessly, really wishing she didn’t have a bunch of grapes dangling from her fingers.

Ayala smiled at her. “Hi! Are you from Pinny’s side?”

Estee laughed. “Kind of. My husband and Pinny are best friends. Yonah Rosen?”

Avigail squealed and grabbed her in a hug. “Ohmygosh, Pinny talks about him allll the tiiiime. Thank you sooo much for coming!”

Estee smiled, complimented the bride on her dress, ooohed over her bracelet, and then found a corner table to eat her grapes at long last. This wasn’t her comfort zone, but she had to admit Ayala was a doll.

She watched the kallah greet her guests regally, air-kissing and hugging and nodding. It wasn’t easy to receive everyone, she remembered, but it was such a special time. And then before you know it, all the parties are over, and it’s just you and your new husband, sitting grumpily in a car….

She laughed to herself. She was such a drama queen sometimes.

She noticed Ayala heading to the mechitzah; Pinny’s head was poking around. He obviously wanted to introduce her to someone.

She hoped they’d be so happy. Pinny really was a great friend to Yonah.

After another half hour of snacking on mousse cups and petit fours, she texted Yonah and then went to sit in the car. She felt bad, but she had a ton to do at home.

Joey Newcomb was still playing when she turned the engine on. She hummed along with “Thank You Hashem” and leaned her head back, admiring the bracelet on her own wrist. It was amazing how suddenly she felt old and married in comparison to Ayala Koenig.

A knock on the driver’s window and Yonah opened the door.

“Hey, wife,” he said grinning.

“Greetings, husband.”

They smiled at each other; echoes of their earlier argument shimmered like a heat haze — present but no longer substantial.

“How was?”

“Amazing, Pinny is flying high.”

“Well, his kallah is so nice, I really like her.”

Yonah put the car into drive and turned down the block. “Oh, Est, guess who I met there.”

Estee, whose mind was already back in her tiny kitchen and her recipe for pomegranate salmon, really did not want to guess.

“Tell me.”

“My old neighbor from Boston, Rabbi Wagshall. He lives here now and has a shul up by Wesley, and he said that there’s a Motzaei Shabbos Night Chill for struggling teens every week.

“He wants to know if I can come and play guitar and vibe with the boys. Sounds amazing, no? I’d love to get involved with some of the chesed organizations around here, and this just fell into my lap!”

And for the second time in one short day, Estee questioned her new husband’s sanity.


To be continued…


(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 1010)

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