| Serial |

Picture This: Chapter 7

She didn’t want reasonable. She wanted the best



she returned the second food processor, the coffee machine — not the Nespresso, that one she was definitely keeping — and the set of cutlery that Yonah’s aunt had bought her that she absolutely hated, that would give her $700 store credit for a future necessary purchase. Then, if she used some of the wedding gift money today to buy a $1,200 camera off Amazon, she was really buying a top-quality camera for only $500. Girl math.

She smirked at her logic. Unless it was too soon for a top quality camera? Start small?

Time to ask Slack. Guys, I really want to go all in on this. Do I buy the Canon 90D as a wedding gift to myself or do I start small?

The answers trickle in throughout the day.

If you’re all in, you’re all in! Get it!

I have it, it’s fantastic. You can’t imagine the clarity.

Estee, if you’re really serious about this, you need to commit in a big way.

One member, a Chedva Cohen — did she remember Chedva from the group? — DMed her to say that she had a renewed 80D and it produced stunning photos for a much more reasonable price.

Estee thought about the unknown Chedva Cohen’s advice for a solid minute before loading the wedding gifts to return into her trunk. She didn’t want reasonable. She wanted the best.

She moved the coffee machine to the side, adjusted the boxes, and slammed the trunk door. And if she did all of this when Yonah was still at second seder, it was purely coincidental.

Her messages pinged. It wasn’t Slack, it was Tehila. Can we please go out tonight, ladies? Like just acai bowls and schmoozing? I need a recharge.

She regretfully typed a, “so sorry, raincheck?” and went to turn off the stove.

Dinner was plated and ready by the time Yonah sauntered through the door.

“Hey, Estee.”


She smiled at him, and smoothed her sheitel. Had it frizzed up from the humidity? She glanced at herself in the reflective door of the microwave. Fine. She looked fine. Yonah looked at the chicken stir fry and lo mein and sighed happily. “Wife, you are spoiling me.”

She waved an airy hand. “As it should be, husband.”

They sat down in companionable silence broken only by the clink of glasses and clatter of cutlery. This was normal, right? There didn’t have to be constant conversation, did there? Estee tried to think back on their dates. Had the conversation flowed better back then? Had they run out of things to talk about?

She remembered her Mishlei teacher had told them about the special brachah between a husband and wife, that they never grow bored of each other. But what if you were boring? Was she boring? Quick, say something charming! Qui–

“Est, I was so busy eating I forgot to tell you how delicious it is,” Yonah said sheepishly.

She smiled, trying to look serene or at least not as insecure as she felt inside. “Thanks! It’s an easy recipe. From Dinner Done.”

Yonah took a swig of Coke. Estee tried not to cringe. In her house, soda was for Shabbos only. The Rosens, on the other hand, had a refrigerator stocked with cans of everyone’s favorite drinks, and people were constantly swinging the fridge open, grabbing a bottle of Snapple, and slamming the door shut again.

Ishah kesheirah that she was, she allowed her husband to drink cups full of sugar with food coloring, if that’s what he wanted to do.

“Speaking of dinner done, when dinner is actually done, is it okay if I run out with Pinny? He’s got pre-wedding jitters and I told him I’ll take him out and reassure him that marriage is awesome.” Yonah grinned at her.

Her brain wasn’t sure if it should aww over the marriage is awesome bit, or freeze at the, “I once again have grand plans for a shanah rishonah evening that don’t include you.”

Unfortunately, her mouth unfroze before her brain. “You told him you would go out with him tonight? Like, tonight, tonight? Didn’t you want to check with me first? Hi, me, your wife of three months?”

Yonah was looking at her like he’d never seen her before, and it was unnerving. The only thing to do, really, was double down.

“My friends, who I haven’t spent time with in months asked me to go out tonight, but I said that I was spending time with my new husband. But my new husband, apparently, is going to be out with the boys, so I guess my night just opened up.”

She snatched up her phone and pointedly texted Tehila back, feeling both crushed and slightly ridiculous.

She looked up from the screen to find Yonah squinting at her. “Uh, can I speak yet?”

She nodded curtly.

He frowned. “Est, what are you talking about? Pinny is getting married in a week, and then he’ll be busy with his wife, and I thought I could help him, pump him up about marriage, and all that. I did not mean to insult you.”

“I was not insulted,” Estee interjected. “Just surprised. I’m not one of those super sensitive people.”

She smiled sweetly. “Anyway, it’ll be good for us, both out on the town. A little break.”

Clattering a bit too loudly, she whisked the plates off the table and into the sink. “See you later, Yons. Enjoy!”

Well, that was confusing. He honestly had not thought she would have a problem with him going out. He would never have agreed, otherwise. It was probably a good thing, then, that he didn’t tell her what had happened earlier.

He had been schmoozing with Pinny and Rabinowitz at Minchah, the general hock was about why Pinny and Yonah had both chosen to stay in Lakewood and whether it was actually kedai to head to Eretz Yisrael for shanah rishonah.

Rabinowitz’s cousin had gone and come back separated, but Pinny’s older brother was still there six years strong, so who knew? They’d been arguing and hungry, so they headed to the dining room for dinner and only when Pinny and Rabinowitz were doubled over in laughter did Yonah remember that he had his own dining room, at home, with a wife who cooked for him.

“Do not,” he’d said, pointing at both of them, “repeat this story. Ever.” And then he had spun on his heel and double timed it back home.

But her reaction to his plans had been way off, no?

He filed the incident away under Things No One Tells You About Shanah Rishonah and drove off to meet Pinny at Mike’s Chicken.

“And then he swung his legs over the side of the armchair, and literally sat like that for the rest of the date.”

Estee cracked up, Shani screeched, and Tehila sat back, validated that she’d won this round of “World’s Weirdest Dating Stories.”

Estee cleared her throat. “Kay, so there was this one guy….”

She ducked as her friends threw napkins at her. “Um, Yonah realizes that if you ever share a dating story we all know it’s about him, right?”

Estee blushed. Marrying your first boy had major perks, but also, zero anonymity. Anyway, she had no weird dating stories. Yonah was a great dater. Maybe even… nope, not going there.

But as she settled into the easy, comfortable company of her best friends, she couldn’t help comparing it to the super-conscious, slightly awkward interactions she’d just had with Yonah.  And she couldn’t keep from wondering if she’d ever be that comfortable with him.

Silly. She was being silly. Nervous to speak to her own husband….

She looked in the hallway mirror, straightened the brooch on her scarf. Dovid had given it to her for their 20th anniversary; she loved it. “Silly,” she said aloud to her reflection.

Dovid came up behind her. “Talking to ourselves again, are we?” he asked, arching an eyebrow.

She smiled calmly. “And who should I be talking to, exactly?”

She hadn’t meant to jump right into what was on her mind, but he’d asked.

Her husband of 40 years did exactly what she knew he would do. Rubbed his yarmulke like it was a crystal ball, and went to pour her a drink in the kitchen. He wasn’t big on feelings, Dovid, but he was a good, good man. A little too good.

“Don’t you think,” she pushed, following him. “that we haven’t really had a chance to talk in a while because you haven’t taken it easy in a long time? We should get away. The Poconos, maybe, the Catskills? Imagine, just you and me.”

And no families of strangers, she thought, somewhat sadly. No chesed opportunities.

Just me.

“Remember that one summer with the cabin and the coyote who thought you were his moth—”

He placed a glass of lemon iced tea in front her.

“I can’t get away now, Golds, I’m sorry. It’s been so busy with this new doctor in town, there’s so much to do… August, yes? We’ll get away then.”

She put the drink down and stood up. “I want to move,” she said flatly. “I want to downsize. I’m tired, Dovid. We’ve done our part, let someone else take a turn.”

And her open, easygoing husband’s face shuttered.

“Don’t ask me to do that, Golda,” he said. “Don’t. Please.” And then he walked out of the kitchen.

“Maybe not so silly, after all,” she said aloud to the empty kitchen. Not silly at all.

To be continued…


(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 1014)

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