F or one Shabbos, we’d brought two carry-ons, one sheitel box, one hatbox, and a garment bag. I thought that was a lot until I glanced over at the next couple, who were hefting literally double the amount of luggage, except for the hatbox.

Why did she need a second sheitel over Shabbos? Did I need a second sheitel over Shabbos? At least I had Shifra as a wardrobe consultant. This shabbaton, I must look awesome. More awesome than usual, because this shabbaton, I am stretching, I am making a friend.

Rafi was schmoozing with the guy behind the desk. I didn’t mind, we’d probably end up with a better room. I looked up at the woman standing next to the overloaded trolley. Given how many suitcases she had brought, she probably wasn’t my type. I doubted even Shifra would bring this much. But I can smile, right? That’s like a normal thing to do, acknowledge we’re part of the same group, retreat, and stuff.

She wasn’t looking in my direction. In fact, she was ignoring me. Why? I looked down at my dress, literally a shapeless sack and a coarse rope necklace, like they took it straight off the boat. Shifra says it’s chic. At least it’s comfortable. So glad the tailored pencil skirts and tucked-in-shirt days are over.

I tried one more time, then turned away. Forget it, why put myself out there, I have who I need. Forget trying to make eye contact with too-much-stuff woman and feeling bad about it. I don’t need this.

Rafi was walking toward me, room keys in hand,

“Hi, Mrs. Kantor, so glad you could make it for Shabbos.” Too-much-stuff lady looked up and flashed Rafi a smile. “Thanks,” she said.

Seriously, who was this woman, why was my husband deemed worthy of an acknowledgment and I wasn’t?

“She works in HR,” Rafi said, reading my face. “She usually keeps to herself. HR, y’know, can be a touchy department to work in.”

And then I wanted to face-palm myself. She was just like me. You wish I’d be smiling at random women if not for this friend-finding business.

Rafi didn’t say more while we rode the elevators to our room — suite with a view, definitely not standard issue — and he didn’t even ooh and aah over the suite either, which is not his type. He’s been quieter since Noi Due Carne. We’re not arguing — what’s to fight over, I’m me and he doesn’t really get it — but it’s been weird.

“There’s an Erev Shabbos oneg,” Rafi said, holding a thick rectangular stock paper that I assumed had the schedule. You wish I’m going was at the tip of my tongue. But no, I was stretching.

“Nice, we’ll go,” I said.

Rafi raised an eyebrow, but he seemed a little pleased. I looked in the mirror outside the bathroom. The light was very flattering, but I knew that whatever conference room the oneg was in wouldn’t be as kind. I put on a little more blush, and dabbed on Vaseline. Rafi watched, amused. (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 571)