Is there something you always carry on you, even if it’s seen better days?
Project coordinator: Rachel Bachrach
Illustrations: Menachem Weinreb
Dave and Buster’s was our sixth date. There were two other dating couples there, and I remember giving them knowing looks, trying to guess what number date they were on and how likely they were to get engaged. This, of course, was with the smug assurance that I was dating my bashert, and our impending engagement was only a matter of time. Ari was everything I’d been looking for, plus he won everything he played. I tried gamely to get a ring around the sticks, while Ari managed to rack up enough points to actually buy a prize — a pair of small teddy bears.
Cute, I thought, pocketing the little bear he offered me. We’ll put these on display in our apartment someday.
The date meandered from Dave and Buster’s to a café, and we made our way home an hour or two later than planned. I floated into the house, still smiling.
And then, shockingly, it was over. There were phone calls and confusion and deliberation and questions, so many questions, back and forth and ask the shadchan, but I don’t understand, it was going so well!
It was unbearably painful to step over my shattered dreams and get back to regular life. Work. Shidduchim. I cried buckets of tears and tried to move on. For the most part, I did move on — but one thing I couldn’t bring myself to do was to throw away the bear. It stayed in my coat pocket, tucked beneath my car keys and wallet, there because I simply couldn’t part with it. I carried it with me, the pain and the grief, but also the magical memories, the hopes that maybe, maybe, someday, something would change.
A year later, the shadchan called: “He wants to try again.”
We went out. One date, and another, and another. A few days before we got engaged, I reached into my pocket and pulled out the bear from that long-ago date.
“I carried this with me all this time,” I said quietly.
“I have mine, too,” Ari said.
Now, two little bears with the D&B logo live in our breakfront, displayed proudly next to my candlesticks. To me, they represent memories, shared dreams, and the power of holding onto hope.
Libby Green is a writer and teacher in Baltimore, Maryland.
(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 860)
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