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Picture This: Chapter 8

She stormed into the house and promptly locked herself in the bathroom. Only then did she let herself cry



pulled out the “his” and “hers” water bottles Estee had bought when they were engaged, rinsed them, and filled them with cold water. Estee wanted to go walking in the park. Was that a hint that he was putting on the Freshman Fifteen? He examined his reflection in the oven door. Nah, he looked fine.

He knew she’d like that he was using the water bottles. Personally, he wasn’t sure what was wrong with a Poland Spring plastic, but Estee found that hilarious, so he indulged her. At least, he was this time. He stuck two granola bars into his pockets and grinned. Did that make him a cheap date? Or just a prudent one?

Estee popped her head in; she’d changed into a brightly colored tichel and sneakers. He grinned again. He couldn’t help it.


She headed toward the door. “Ready!”

It was a gorgeous summer evening. They strolled along, schmoozing about seder and Pinny and Ayala’s wedding the next night, and anything and everything.

They passed other couples. No one else had matching water bottles, but hey, none of those guys were married to Estee. It was a package deal. He looked at her. What was she thinking, right then?

“I wish I could photograph this moment,” she said, answering his unspoken question. Yeah, they were cute like that.

“We really needa get you a camera,” he said conversationally, nodding as Rubinstein and his wife walked past. They had gotten married a month before them; he’d danced up a storm at that wedding, knowing his was probably next.

Estee looked up at him. “I love how in sync we are.”

And that’s when Yonah got a really weird feeling. “What do you mean?”

“So, funny story….”

Spoiler alert: He didn’t think it was so funny.

She stormed into the house and promptly locked herself in the bathroom. Only then did she let herself cry.

When Estee was engaged, her kallah teacher had told her that the concept ezer k’negdo meant more than just a life partner, it meant a helper opposite him.

“You might find yourselves not agreeing a lot. And that’s okay,” Mrs. Cooper told her. “The disagreements, if navigated maturely, can lead to a strong, solid relationship in which you gently push each other to be your best selves.”

Estee had nodded. It had sounded smart, and she was running to a gown fitting afterward and couldn’t really spend time discussing it just then.

But the truth was, disagreeing with your husband was exhausting. And she was only four months in.

Yonah’s reaction to her laying down $1,500 from their wedding gift money for a new camera had been over the top, in her opinion. The whole “I’m speechless” bit had been condescending, and then he went on and on about how he felt betrayed. His face had turned deep red. Maybe he had anger management issues?

She blew her nose, dabbed water on her face, straightened her tichel, and unlocked the door. Yonah wasn’t in the dining room or the kitchen. Where was he?

She peeked into the bedroom. Typical. He was stretched out on the bed, fast asleep.

She tiptoed out and went back into the bathroom. Turning on the faucet, just in case, she dialed home.

“Ma? It’s me.” And that was all she got out before the tears overtook her again.

“Est? I’m going out.”

No answer. Wonderful.

His phone rang.

Well, now the shvigger was calling him, just when he was heading out the door for Maariv.

Yonah had always imagined he’d be the kind of guy who would have amazing in-laws. Good family, good girl, it just made sense. And for the most part, he’d been right. His father-in-law was a real mensch, a ben Torah who worked hard to support his family and was kovei’a itim in a big way. And his mother-in-law was a wonderful homemaker, raising a happy family. And he respected that.

Except that the woman he now called “Mommy” was his sister Bluma’s age. And every time she gave him advice – which was often — he had a sudden mental image of Bluma wearing a beret on top of her sheitel during her shanah rishonah, back when he was three years old. He wasn’t sure it was a real memory or if he was just remembering the photos his mother had on the wall in the breakfast nook, but all he knew was that his svelte, sophisticated eldest sister used to wear a lot of stupid hats. And his mother-in-law, who was just as put together as Bluma, reminded him of his newlywed sister. And maybe that’s why it was hard for him to accept her advice.

Or maybe it was because that advice usually came at the expense of his wife using her own perfectly good, beret-free head.

Brownie points, he reminded himself as he looked balefully at the ringing phone. You do it for the brownie points.

He buttoned the top button he’d opened out of stress-induced heat, stuffed his hat on his head, grabbed his jacket, and tucked the phone under his ear. “Hi, Ma, how are you?”

His mother-in-law sounded strange. “I’m doing okay, Yonah, thanks for asking. I’m sure you’re running out to Maariv, but I wanted to catch you away from Estee.”

Okkkkaaayyy, there was no way this was going to be good.

“Ah, okay, yeah, I’m on my way.”

“Good. Yonah, Estee called me, very upset. Something about how she bought a camera to jump-start her photography career, and you got very upset about the money?”

“Yeah, I—”

“Yonah, don’t make issues out of money, okay? I want you and Estee to enjoy these early years, before the real responsibility sets in. Ta will pay for the camera.

“But more importantly, I want you to support Estee’s dreams. She wants to be a high-end photographer. And she’s doing it for you, so you can sit and learn. So encourage her, nurture her, and you’ll see, she’ll blossom.”

Yonah had no recollection of answering his mother-in-law or of ending the conversation, but all he knew was that by the time he reached Maariv, his collar was wide open, his sleeves were rolled up, and he was angrier than he had ever been.

To be continued...


(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 1015)

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