Oh my god, the garden looks gorgeous! one friend says, looking at the lit-up pool surrounded by the quintessentially Israeli lemon tree, when another asks Did you plant those? about the tomato vine, but I shake my head no and point to him, the husband, and she, along with 11 other guests marvel at this man who smiles, gesturing for everyone to sit and sing Shalom Alecheim to usher in the Sabbath, while I keep quiet until after the prayer over the wine then the bread, and another friend gushes, Oh my god, the challah’s so good, while savoring the Friday night floury-sugary-cinnamony sensation and says, Did you make it? turning to me, but I shake my head no and point to him, the husband, and she, along with 11 other guests marvel at this man who smiles, swaying to the tune, as I waltz into the kitchen to retrieve couscous and vegetables, chicken, and steak and place the pots and pans on the table for everyone to serve him-or-herself and another friend says, Oh my god, the semolina’s so light, while piling the yellowed durum wheat on her plate, How do you do this? she asks, but I shrug my shoulders and point to him, the husband, and she, along with 11 other guests marvel at this man who smiles, straightening the crooked kippah on his balding head, when I think how easy it would be to disappear; how my behind-the-scenes role as hostess-table setter-dishwasher-loader-dishwasher-emptier-kitchen-tidier-laundry-doer-errand-runner feels meaningless after 30 years together; how my three young adult children will leave home with unique messages about marriage, role-playing, religion; how much I wish he would remove the head covering and relax his level of religiosity and do it my way from here until the end of time, which zooms closer every day, and drive to my great aunt’s house next Friday night or spend a Saturday at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, as another guest raises a wine glass and says L’chaim, to life! and my cheeks crimson with shame.
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