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Lifetakes: Walking in My Shoes

Avigail Rubin

A new pair of shoes can change your whole life, I’ve heard, quoting Cinderella, and I tend to agree

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

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T he sky is slate-gray when I abandon the warmth of my covers.

It’s late Shabbos morning and I’m enjoying a post-shul rest, but conscience calls in the form of a kiddush I need to attend. I sigh as I close the clasp of my bracelet.

It’s my close friend’s brother’s bar mitzvah. My close friend, married with a baby and who has lived in another city for the past two years. We haven’t lost touch so much as simply not having had the time to speak, and I know I’m partially to blame.

A new pair of shoes can change your whole life, I’ve heard, quoting Cinderella, and I tend to agree. I slip on my newest acquisition in the footwear department, and decide that if clothes maketh the man, shoes certainly maketh the girl. I feel more energized already.

The walk to the kiddush is brisk, invigorating. The hall is packed. I’m surprised to see my friend sitting on her own, near the back. I make my way over, we hug and draw two chairs together. There’s a rush of just like the old times and I’m so glad I came. I mentally thank the shoes for their input.

We compare manicures — mine, French; hers, a shine that changes color with every turn of the hand — and I share a story from work. I am one sentence in when her eyes lose their focus. She’s scanning the crowd, and a moment later, with an apologetic wave in my direction, she’s embracing her future sister-in-law.

I know the kallah — she’s a colleague, and older than I am — and I’m so happy that she’s getting married. But when the conversation shifts from wedding dates to wigs and then meanders from Shevy to Irene and shades of blonde, annoyance begins wriggling up inside.

I spy another colleague and stand up, latching on to her gracefully, and moving through the flow of the crowd to make my escape. It doesn’t come fast; I know too many people for that. I paste on a smile for my friend’s younger sister, who is getting married in a few weeks, and wish I could just enjoy someone else’s simchah without being rocketed by so many emotions.

Before I leave, I need to locate my friend and say goodbye. I search her out, expecting her to urge me to stay, eat something, talk. I toy with the fantasy of making a snide remark about not being interested in hearing any more about Irene, and just as quickly quash the idea. Who am I turning into, some bitter ogre full of grudges at perceived slights?

By now, my friend is surrounded by friends and family. I wave, indicating the door. She waves back cheerfully and returns to the crowd around her. I step outside, feeling my way through resentment and relief.

I tell myself to let it go. 

(Excerpted from Family First, Issue 577)

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