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Learning Curve: Chapter 17

Gila Arnold

Suri debates whether to confront Zevi or Aviva with Zevi’s insurance mess-up. She chooses Aviva, who decides to spare Zevi and takes the blame herself

Thursday, October 06, 2016

Yael stood outside Rina’s Racks, her sister-in-law’s clothing store that she had somehow never mustered up the guts to step foot into. Until today.

The craziest part was, she was entering these hallowed precincts of the uber-sophisticated by actual invitation. It had happened just after the Senator Pearl event. The entire Jeren clan had shown up — she assumed by her father-in-law’s orders. Still, she’d been touched by the unexpected show of support.

When the big miracle had happened (no, not miracle, she reminded herself, because Ephraim hated when she put herself down; the anticipated outcome of an insane amount of practice) and she’d actually done a decent job welcoming the senator, her sisters-in-law had approached her one by one and warmly congratulated her. It was the first time Yael had felt accepted.

It was in the context of this sisterly spirit that Rina had looked her outfit up and down — and Yael had dressed with as much care as she possibly could on that day — and kindly offered to take Yael shopping at her boutique.

This was exactly the sort of offer that would’ve sent her scampering back home a year earlier — or even a day earlier. But somehow, flying high on her success, she decided to fling self-dignity to the wind and say, “Sure, thanks!”

And thus she found herself inside the chicly decorated boutique, arriving at the moment of truth. Looking around, she saw a few ladies she vaguely recognized from her in-laws’ social circles. Women her own age were browsing through racks while chatting, and Yael couldn’t help but feel that they were staring at her, wondering how an imposter like her had dared to enter their upper-crust store. Stop it! she told herself firmly. Of course you belong here! You’re a Jeren! The argument wasn’t such a good one, because she felt like an imposter Jeren as well. But now, after her success, after her father-in-law’s beaming congratulations and — especially — after Ephraim’s glowing look of pride, today she finally felt capable of assuming the Jeren badge. She stared back calmly at the women, and couldn’t help but gloat at their expressions as Rina spotted her and came running forward. “Yael! So lovely you came!” She gave her a hug (Rina did hugs?), loudly declaring to the women near her, “My sister-in-law. This is my brother’s wife, Yael.” She grabbed Yael’s arm, as if taking ownership, and steered her over to a rack of clothes on the side of the store.

“My newest collection, just arrived, I thought of you immediately.” She was still talking in her gushy showman’s tone, and for the first time Yael was struck by how similar Rina was to her father; they both seemed to come alive with their work.

Over the next hour, between helping clients, Rina selected and measured and rejected outfit after outfit, until, at the end, Yael found herself with a whole new wardrobe. It was clear that Rina had decided to take Yael on as a project.

“Now you’re not just a success,” Rina said with passion, “you’re dressed for it as well!”

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