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Author Topic: Ongoing Story
Bracha613

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Post Ongoing Story
on: April 8, 2013, 10:59 AM

I thought it would be fun if we had an ongoing story that people can add onto.
(tip - don't get her engaged so quick I want it to be a real story. Make sure to put in all of the uncomfortable things you hate about shidduchim so it will be more real. Maybe someone will even publish it 😉

Here goes...

Dina was upset. She threw her dirty shirt in the hamper angrily.

“What do they think I am? A nebach?” It seemed like whenever she was actually redt a Shidduch it was such a flop it wasn’t even worth looking into. A 35 year old man? Who’s divorced? What were they thinking? She was just 25 years old! There was nothing wrong with her! Why was she getting redt this kind of Shidduch?

Of course Mommy responded as nicely and pleasantly as she always did. “Thank you so much for thinking of us.” Dina could still hear her voice in her head from last night’s conversation. Mommy was always so sweet. It seemed like Dina was the only one in the family who said things the way they were.

The worst part was sweet Esty, her younger sister, who was 23 and engaged. Esty didn’t want to go out while Dina was still single ,but of course, she couldn’t wait forever. Eventually their family Rav had insisted that Esti go out.

Dina got in her car, still angry, and headed to work. She actually liked her job, doing medical billing. It was so much easier dealing with numbers than with people. Numbers were consistent, you didn’t have to pet their egos, and they didn’t nag you about what is bad for Shidduchim.

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Lea

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Post Re: Ongoing Story
on: April 8, 2013, 1:33 PM

Dina stomped furiously into the office, but then stopped herself.

“Pull it together, girl,” she thought. She threw her head up and forced herself to walk serenely to her desk. “I will not let this ruin my day,” she decided.

As her computer warmed up, her coworker Fraidy scurried over. “Dina, pssst, Dina! I got a call last night from this guy who wants to go out with you!”

Hope blossomed in Dina’s chest, but she answered warily. “What’s his name?”

Fraidy breathlessly told her, and Dina's tentative expectations vanished.

“Yeah, I know him,” she said tiredly. “He’s 35-ish and divorced.”

“Oh,” Fraidy said, but then she added hesitantly, “Is that really so bad?”

“Um, Fraidy,” Dina answered, glancing at her co-worker’s beringed finger, “First, he’s quite a bit older than me, and I know he’s actually lying by calling himself ’35′. Secondly, have you never noticed when they redt divorced guys it was always the wives’ faults? How is that even statistically possible? I’m not saying never, but I just don’t feel ready for that yet.”

“Sure,” Fraidy said, but Dina knew she didn’t really agree. Fraidy was a sweet girl and nice to work with, but married people never understood. Fraidy had met her husband at 22, a clean-cut fellow with excellent middos. Meanwhile, Dina kept on wondering about the state of sanity amongst the bachelors out there. Fraidy, like so many, decided that Dina was “being picky” or “didn’t want it enough.”

Dina’s determination to stay optimistic had fallen flat. She wasn’t furious now, just exhausted. It was all just so draining; the raised expectations, the collapsing hopes. She just wanted to know what it would feel like to stay steady for once.

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Post Re: Ongoing Story
on: April 8, 2013, 4:48 PM

“Thank goodness for the nitty-gritty details of work to keep my mind off all the things that I can’t control in my life,” Dina thought as she began working her way through some particularly thorny paperwork. “At least I have a good job and feel accomplished and productive, even though society makes me feel so inadequate because I don’t have a husband and a family.”

“Dina, can you come to my office when you get a chance?”

The message on Dina’s intercom broke her out of her reverie. It was her boss, again. He’d been bugging her for a few weeks now to take him up on his offer for a promotion. He had proposed an interesting business venture. He wanted Dina to help him open an additional office in another town. The salary raise was definitely worth it, but Dina just wasn’t so sure she wanted to leave her coworkers of almost six years, take on the added responsibility of being in charge, and most importantly, lose the security of living at home.

Bracha613

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Post Re: Ongoing Story
on: April 8, 2013, 8:41 PM

Dina found herself thinking about her boss as she saw the boss’s secretary scurrying out of his office. Some men definitely like to be waited upon, she mused to herself. Mr. Greenberg’s secretary, Mrs. Schwartz, was at his beck and call from 9 am until 5 pm. The morning always started with her bringing him his morning coffee brewed just so, and after that she was always bringing him this file or that file. It’s funny how some men can fix a car but can’t get a file, she mused.

After waiting a half hour to make sure it didn’t look like she wasn’t busy she headed over to Mr. Greenberg’s office. She knocked lightly and let herself in.

“You called me?” she asked.

“Yes,” said Mr. Greenberg clearing his throat. “Firstly I just wanted to wish you Mazel Tov on your sister’s engagement. I just heard that she became a kallah. I hope we will hear Besuros Tovos about you soon, too. Secondly, I just wanted to remind you again of the idea we’ve been talking about – you opening the new office out of town. I thought that now with your younger sister being a kallah and all, it might be easier for you to be out of the house, anyway.”

He sure did put it bluntly, thought Dina to herself.

“Mr. Greenberg,” said Dina aloud, “Thank you for your warm wishes. I will make sure to get back to you as soon as I finish thinking it through.” And with that she turned around and headed back to her cubicle. “Oh and one more thing,” said Mr. Greenberg, looking a little embarrassed. “I just wanted to let you know that my wife and I are always thinking about you. Don’t think that just because ideas don’t make it to the finish line you aren’t in our thoughts.”

Dina felt her eyes tearing. She didn’t know why she kept crying lately. She was never the one to cry.

iThink

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Post Re: Ongoing Story
on: April 8, 2013, 10:13 PM

In the safety of her cubicle, Dina let herself feel the anger and hurt penetrate somewhere deep inside her. She kept hearing the words replay in her head again and again. “Now with your younger sister being a Kalah and all it might be easier for you anyway to be out of the house.” She blinked to herself in exaggerated disbelief and unconsciously let out a chuckle. It was supposed to sound incredulous but came out as a chocked sob instead.

How can anyone mistake my life as easy? Which part of the older single sister status has ever been easy? And how, oh my goodness, really HOW can it get easier now that Esty was married? Did he mean easy as in ‘Since there’s not much left for me at home now, I might be willing to leave and start someplace else?’ Like at this point this is pretty much a no-brainer, considering the advantages of the promotion versus the pathetic, lonely single life I’ve be living at home?

Her thoughts raced fast, frenzied, and furious and then it suddenly occurred to her that Mr. Greenberg might not have meant that at all. And he certainly hadn’t meant to offend her, she was sure.

Dina sat down on her swivel chair and stared at the computer, feeling drained. She wondered if she was becoming like these super sensitive girls who always annoyed her by over thinking every innocent comment they’re told. She always thought it was their fault, like they should somehow hear less and think less and feel less and just let things go. And here she was, having a mini emotional meltdown because – get this – her boss thought that she might find it easier to relocate now that her closest sister is no longer sharing her room.

She sat up straight in her chair and pushed it towards her desk, determined to bury her thoughts in work and to deal with the decision making later.

life123

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Post Re: Ongoing Story
on: April 8, 2013, 11:39 PM

Dina was relieved when the day was over. She wanted to go home and curl up under her blanket for a good think. It wasn't going to happen that day, though. Her mother and sister met her by the door.

"Go get dressed," her mother commanded. "You're going out tonight."

"What?"

"I've been looking into someone for a while. I didn't tell you about it because I didn't want you to turn it down, but this is a fantastic opportunity. He started working with Ta at the accounting firm a few months ago. He's divorced, but his first wife was a real character and much too young for him- she was in Esty's class, so we know. It wasn't his fault at all."

"Really, Dina," Esty assured her. "She was on meds for sure, but she was also really nasty. Everyone hated her."

"How old is he?" DIna asked, though she really wanted to just yell, Leave me alone! Let me go think! I don't want to hear about divorced guys!

"Twenty-nine. He's a real mentsch, Dina. And he'll be here in less than two hours. Go get dressed." Her mother pushed her towards her bedroom.

Maybe it was her tough day, her confused feelings (what should she do about that job? How could her mother throw a guy at her like that?) or maybe it was her true desire to find her zivug, but Dina obeyed. When Shmuel Vinar came to the door, she was ready to meet him.

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Post Re: Ongoing Story
on: April 9, 2013, 1:16 AM

I will be polite and go out with this boy when he comes to pick me up tonight, Dina had promised herself as she studied her face in the mirror and applied more mascara. After all, it isn't his fault that my mother set this date up behind my back. At age 25 you would think that there would be some degree of less coddling and more respect of my independence, Dina had silently fumed. Perhaps it really was time to leave home.

Now as she heard her parents chatting easily with "the boy" in the dining room, Dina thought back to the myriad of times before that she had been in this same position. Each first date brought with it renewed hope, "maybe this is the one." But, Dina had long but silenced this voice, as each break-up hurt worse than the one before it. She had learned that caution was the name of the game.

Things were quieting down in the dining room, and Dina took that cue to make her grand entrance. From her post at the doorway, Dina sized up her date. Nice-looking guy, tall, put-together, Dina appraised, as he stood up and smiled at her.

Here goes nothing, Dina thought, as they exchanged pleasantries and walked out of the dining room, down the hallway toward the front door together.

"Have a good time," called Dina's mother.

Dina's father said something as well as they left the house, but they were already too far away to hear exactly what it was.

Gosh, could they be more embarrassing? For real, how old do they think I am?

"Thinking about how your parents still treat you like this is your first date?" asked Shmuel chuckling. "I know how that feels."

If Dina was taken aback by his forthrightness, she didn't show it. Instead, she just smiled and thought to herself, this is going to be an interesting night.

Bracha613

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Post Re: Ongoing Story
on: April 9, 2013, 4:35 PM

Dina waited for Shmuel as he opened the car door for her. She was always nervous that the beginning of the date would be awkward. Too many dates were ruined because of the awkwardness in the beginning. "Did you work today?" asked Shmuel, getting into his seat.

Thankfully the conversation flowed smoothly. Dina was surprised when the car pulled up at Waterside Gardens, she was used to a hotel for the first date. "I hate hotel dates," said Shmuel as if reading her mind. "I hope you don't mind."
"Oh, I don't mind" Dina quickly assured him. Dina was actually relieved she found hotel dates so stifling.

Shmuel is definitely a good conversationalist thought Dina to herself, as she found herself relaxing and enjoying his company.

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Post Re: Ongoing Story
on: April 10, 2013, 3:30 AM

It seemed far too soon for the date to be over when Shmuel glanced at his watch and blinked in surprise.

"Wow, can you guess what time it is?" he asked casually.

"Uh, 9:45...latest 10:15?" Dina replied timidly.

"Nope. It's almost 11:30. I didn't either realize how late it was," he apologized. "I guess time flies when you're having fun," he teased.

"We better get going," Shmuel continued, as he stood up from the moon-bathed bench they had been occupying. "We both have to work tomorrow."

That seemingly innocuous statement drove the fantasy that was slowly taking shape in Dina's mind right out of her head. What am I doing? Dina thought. I want a learning guy! Here I am having the time of my life with a boy, a man really, who is working in an accounting firm!

Putting it out of her mind temporarily, Dina was able to enjoy the ride home and cordially thank her date as he walked her to her front door. However, as soon as she walked in to find both her parents anxiously awaiting her arrival to see how the date went, it was like a dam burst.

"First of all," Dina grumbled, "You do not have to wait for me after each first date. I'll let you know if I want to talk about it, but please, I'm not 19 anymore. I need my privacy and independence." "Secondly," Dina continued, her voice rising an octave, "About what happened tonight, you need to okay a boy with me before you set up a date. I mean, I think I should be involved throughout the entire process, but if this is how you're going to do things, you must okay the relevant details with me first."

"Oh honey, is this about Shmuel's divorce?" asked Dina's mother. "I know you weren't really willing to consider divorced men at this point, but it seemed trivial compared to the other great things we heard about him."

"No, actually it's not," Dina rejoined. "You know perfectly well that I'm looking to marry a boy who is learning," Dina almost howled. "Shmuel's amazing. He's nice; he's funny, smart, entertaining, has a great sense of humor... He's even tall and good-looking. I think I might like him..." Dina trailed off.

Her parents exchanged knowing looks.

"But, don't you see? That's the problem!" Dina wailed. "I don't want someone who's working! The divorce is one thing, but I can't sacrifice on ruchniyus. Plus, I don't want to lead him on. It's not fair to him."

"Calm down sweetie," Dina's mother said. "We totally respect and understand this." She looked at her husband for confirmation, and he nodded his head in agreement.

"Listen, Shmuel only recently started working. He took his accounting courses mostly during bein hazmanim, and though he wasn't learning 3 sedarim, he learned 1 seder a day, until about a year ago, give or take some time. I know he was definitely learning 3 sedarim when he got married at 24, and he learned full-time during the first two and half years of his marriage, maybe not night seder during shana rishona, but then, that doesn't count. I'm not sure when he stopped learning full-time and why, but maybe it had something to do with his marriage. At that point he was still learning 1 full seder a day and I think he began studying for his CPA. Between his divorce, when he was almost 28, and now, he took and passed all his exams. I think he started working as a way of starting over. Plus, he is 29, and he needs a way to support himself. Besides, divorces are expensive. He's just at a different stage of life. It makes sense for him to be working."

"That's another problem!" Dina squawked. "'It all makes sense.' But, it doesn't make sense for me! I'm 25, never been married. I can't relate to the stage of life he's in."

"Just give it some time," Dina's father advised. "No one's asking you to marry him. Get to know him a little more before you make a decision. You seem to like him."

Arghh, why do things have to be so complicated? Dina reflected. Why can't I hate the guys that aren't on the same page as me as far as ruchniyus goals and like the ones that are, instead of finding most of them boring or annoying?

"Okay, I really have to get to bed. Work tomorrow. Good night Ta, Ma." Dina turned to go upstairs to bed.

"Dina?" Dina's mother called after her. "What should I tell the shadchan when he calls in the morning?"

Really? We're going to do it like this? Dina felt herself getting angry. She took a calming breath before answering her mother.

"Ma, you can give him my cell number. What's his name, by the way, so I can know who he is when he calls."

"Are you sure about this? Alright, I get it, you're a big girl. It's Shloimy Wreistinheimer. Good night Dina!"

What a night. Dina thought as she settled into her pillow a few minutes later. What am I going to tell the shadchan? With that question lingering at the tips of her consciousness, Dina fell into a deep, exhausted slumber.

atararox

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Post Re: Ongoing Story
on: April 10, 2013, 3:46 PM

Chapter 2:
What felt like minutes later, Dina opened her eyes to find her room bathed in darkness. She still had 20 minutes until her alarm went off. The pounding of the rain outside made her want to turn over and pull her blanket right back up to her chin, but as thoughts from the night before came to mind, she found herself wide awake.
Without too much thought, Dina started going about her regular morning routine. She picked out her comfiest sweater and dabbed on some lip gloss. Her hair was still good from her date so she just left it as it was. She found herself rather happy as she stepped out into the pouring rain and dashed towards her car.
The morning flew by with the usual craziness that her job entailed. Plus, she had other stuff on her mind. She jumped nervously as the cell phone on her desk vibrated.
To her chagrin it was her mother.
“Hi Ma,” Dina started tentatively, “I still didn’t hear from the shadchan.”
“Um actually Dina, “ her mother said despondently, “I just hung up with him. The boy said no.”
Dina’s heart plummeted straight into her stomach. She clutched her phone. She felt dizzy. She had been so positive the ball was in her court. He seemed to have been having a nice time.
“Dina, are you there? I figured I’ll just tell you myself. I knew you wouldn’t be too upset. You didn’t seem too thrilled about the whole idea to begin with. Guess it wasn’t meant to be.”
“Yeh…No.. .for sure..its fine Ma. ” Dina quickly mumbled before anyone could notice, “It wasn’t a shidduch. Um…did he give a reason?”
“He said he had a nice time and everything. He just felt that you were too frum for him.”
“Right..I hear that…um ok …Ma I havta get back to work. I'll talk to you later.”
Dina hung up the phone. Her stomach was churning. Why did she feel like this? She didn’t even want him. She had been ready to say no as soon as the shadchan called her.
“He’s a really nice guy,” she was going to say, “but I just don’t see it going anywhere.”
“Wow,” Dina thought, bitterness creeping up inside her, “now even divorcees are saying no to me….unbelievable.”
She knew she was being unreasonable, but at this moment she didn't care.

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Lea

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Post Re: Ongoing Story
on: April 10, 2013, 5:27 PM

That was a constant toll of dating: being unreasonable.

Even though she was relieved, deep deep down, that she didn't have to make the final decision, Dina still felt stung by his rejection.

"Well," she sighed to herself, "now I start again."

Then she felt even worse.

She desperately wanted to think about something else.

Then she remembered. While she was still recovering from the shock of Esty's engagement, she did have to prepare for it. A wardrobe was not going to stock itself.

"Mmmmm," she thought cheerfully, shoving aside all thought of last night's outing, "nothing like a little retail therapy."

During her lunch break she emailed and texted friends, asking which stores or seamstresses they would recommend for gowns. She doodled on scrap paper what her ideal dress would look like. It didn't necessarily have to be the one she would end up in, but she was happy to take advantage of any distraction.

Then she pictured Esty, in glowing white, smiling beneath the chuppah with Yehuda. She knew what her future will be, while Dina was still drifting. Dina visualized herself, on the outside of this pretty scene, looking in, while yet another "friend" of the family approached with vindictive pity in her eyes and on her tongue.

"Shoes," she mumbled to herself, and the image became a little faded.

"I'm only 25. I'm only 25. I'm only 25 . . ." she repeated to herself.

"Said something, Dina?" Fraidy called from the other desk.

"No, just bentching," she quickly replied.

"My life has barely started and I'm already being defeatist," she thought. "I can't give the best impression of myself if I'm always negative. I believe in Hashem; I believe in bashert; this will be, soon."

life123

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Post Re: Ongoing Story
on: April 10, 2013, 5:42 PM

Her phone buzzed as a text came in from her friend Shaindy.
You're going gown hunting! Can I come?
She texted back, Yeah, sure. Meet me on Central by parking lot at 5:15?

At 10 to 5, Dina got ready to leave. She neatened up her desk, and noticed a memo she hadn't seen before. It was from her boss, reminding her about yesterday's conversation. She would really have to think about it now. She would have time; her mother couldn't have scheduled another surprise date for tonight.
She was still holding the memo when she met Shaindy.
"What's that paper?" Shaindy asked.
Dina hesitated, then handed the memo to her friend. She needed some advice, and she trusted Shaindy ti think before she spoke.
"Hmm," Shaindy said. "Your boss wants to give you some more responsibilities? He wants you to open an office?"
"Yep. What do you think?"
"What I think isn't what's important. Do you know what this will mean? Will you be able to handle all this work?"
"My boss thinks I can," Dina shrugged. "And yes, I think I can. But do I want to?"
Shaindy laughed. "Do you?"
"Come on, Shaindy, help me decide."

dancer90

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Post Re: Ongoing Story
on: April 10, 2013, 6:44 PM

The rest of the week passed by in a haze. Between the constant mazel tov calls and gown talk, Dina was more than ready for Shabbos. And she still had to make a decision about the Job offer. She highly doubted she’ll get much rest at all.
Most importantly though, Yehuda was coming.
Yup - the adored new chosson.
Esty’s chosson.
Those two words reverberated in Dina’s head over and over, as she layered on her final coat of mascara.
It was finally starting to sink in. She was happy for Esty. They had always had a really great relationship and respected each other, despite their different personalities.
Dina glanced over at her sister who was standing across the room, concentrating on fastening the clasp of her sparkling diamond bracelet.
“You look amazing,” Dina remarked. And she meant it.
“Thanks! Gosh, I'm so nervous!” Esty said as she did a once over in the mirror.
Dina chuckled. It was amusing to see her sister all nervous and jittery. Esty was the most confident person she knew.
“Yehuda’s here,” 12 - year - old Bentzi called from the bottom of the stairs.
Immediately, a huge smile spread across Esty’s face as she flew out of the room to greet Him.

------------------------------------------

Esty pulled her jacket tighter around her as she stood outside the front door of her house. It was late and the streets were empty.
“Good Shabbos,” she said to Yehuda. “I hope you sleep well.”
“I’m sure I will” he laughed, “Good shabbos Esty. Everything was great.”
Esty opened the door to her house and waited as her chosson crossed the street and walked to the neighbor where he would be staying for the night.
She then quietly closed the front door and crept upstairs to her room.

Dina was in bed already. She appeared to be sleeping.
Esty started unclasping all her jewelry and getting ready for bed.
She was so happy. Yehuda was really everything she could’ve asked for. Well, except for the fact that he can’t carry a tune, She chuckled as she recalled the meal that night. Yehuda had joined in the zemiros with Tatty and the boys, but unlike them, he couldn’t sing to save his life.
And then her thoughts turned to Dina. He beautiful, smart, amazing big sister. She had served the entire meal that night and hadn’t asked Esty to help even once!!
Esty’s heart melted as she pictured the look on Dina’s face when she showed off the new necklace she had gotten for shabbos.
Well, what was she supposed to do? Hide everything?
“Its not like I’m 19,” Esty reasoned. “My friends are mostly married.’’
“Stop it,” she scolded herself, “Stop beating yourself up. You’re not doing anything wrong.”
Esty was 22 when their mother decided it was time for her to start shidduchim. She never dreamed she would actually go before Dina. But then they redt Yehuda and she immediately knew he was her guy.
She pulled back her blanket and leaned over to turn out the Shabbos lamp.

“Hey.” Dina’s voice was barely above a whisper
“Oh hey. You're still up?” Esty was taken aback.

“Yup. Can’t sleep.”

Silence

“Yehuda’s a really great guy,” Dina said breaking the silence.

“Thanks. Yeah he is.” Esty wasn’t sure what else to say. “Thanks for not asking me to help serve tonight. That was really sweet of you.”
“Oh sure. No big deal.” Dina was queit for a few seconds. “Do you think ill ever find him?”

Esty froze in her bed. She wanted to scream and shout, “How could you say that. Of course you will. Don’t talk like that. You’re only 25….”
Instead Esty just lay there. Silent.
Dina spoke first, “My boss offered me a promotion. The money is really good. I would have to move out of town though. What do you think?”

"Um, wow, thats great Deen. Really, i think its incredible," Esty replied, though not very convincingly.
"Yeah, I think I'll go for it. What do i have to lose?" And with that Dina turned over and stared into the darkeness as she lay wide awake in her bed.

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Post Re: Ongoing Story
on: April 11, 2013, 2:36 PM

Shabbos afternoon, after the seuda, found the whole family and the new chosson sitting around the dining room table chatting congenially. Suddenly, Dina stood up and announced, "It's been real guys, but I'm meeting a friend. Have a good shabbos. See you later."

As the door banged shut behind her, Esty bit her lip. Did my sister leave because she just couldn't take it anymore? Is she jealous? Is she hurt? There wasn't anything I could have done differently, so why do I feel guilty?

Yehuda glanced her, sensing a change in attitude. "Esty, do you want to go on a walk? It's really nice weather outside."

"Yes, actually," she replied. "Is it okay with you, Ma, Ta?" she asked looking at her parents.

"Of course," said her father. "Mincha's at 6:45," he added. "Good Shabbos."

While Esty and Yehuda left the house and walked up the block, Dina was already a few blocks away knocking at her friend Tzipora's parents house. Tzipora and Dina had been good friends since ninth grade, but their friendship had developed even more after seminary, while they were both still single and all their friends were getting married. Tzipora had gotten married about a year ago, when they were both turning 24. It was hard that her good friend whom she shared so much with, especially within the last couple of years, was now married, but she really was happy for her. They didn't keep in touch as much as before, but definitely whenever Tzipora was at her parent's house for Shabbos, they made it a point to see each other.

As Dina walked up the walkway, the front door banged open, and Tzipora bounced out.

"Dina! It's so good to see you!" Tzipora chirped, bubbly as ever. "I must hear all about Esty's chosson! And omigosh, whatever happened with that guy you texted me about? Did you yell at your parents for not asking you before setting up a date? Do you like him? Are you still dating? Whatever happened with that job offer you were telling me about a few weeks ago?"

"Whoa," laughed Dina. "It's great to see you too. Slow down a minute. First of all, you want to walk, go to the park, sit inside? Don't worry, I'll fill you in on everything. How's your new job by the way?"

Tzipora's demeanor lost just a bit of its sparkle. "Eh, we'll talk about that later. Let's go to the park. You want a drink or anything before we go?"

"Yeah, okay. I'll take some water."

Dina followed Tzipora into the house. On the way to the kitchen, they passed the living room where Tzipora's husband, Dani, was sitting with his feet up reading the Hamodia. He looked up as they passed, and nodded at Dina.

A few minutes later, Dina and Tzipora were in the park sitting comfortably on a low bench nestled among some trees. "Okay, spill!" Tzipora commanded. "Tell me everything!"

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Post Re: Ongoing Story
on: April 11, 2013, 2:59 PM

After the excitement of the weekend, Dina felt that Monday morning could not have come quick enough.
She entered the office building and headed straight for Mr. Greenberg’s office.
“I want to give it a shot,” she announced to a startled Mr. Greenberg. “I talked it over with my family and they agreed it’s a good idea.”
“Excellent,” he replied enthusiastically. “You won’t regret this. I have a really good feeling about it.”
Dina wasn’t so sure that she shared that feeling, but after discussing it with Esty and Tziporah, she consulted her parents and together they agreed it’s worth a shot. Besides, thought Dina, it will be easier to deal with Esty’s engagement without it constantly being in my face for the next 3 months. Plus, I’ll have this as a distraction.
“Excellenet, excellent.” Mr. Greenberg repeated. “We’ll have the office set up by next Monday. Oh, and regarding the apartment we discussed, there are two girls there right now and they are looking for one more girl to split the rent. Obviously that will be included as a business expense so we will be taking care of it. They are expecting you to move in on Sunday. How does that sound?”
Honestly, Dina was very nervous about the whole thing and she had no patience to deal with new roommates. What if they don’t get along? Who in the world are these girls anyways?
Dina sighed as she headed to her desk to break the news to Fraidy.
“Are you serious?’’ Fraidy freaked out. “Hello, this is crazy. Dina how am I ganna survive without you.”
“I think you’ll be just fine,” Dina said rolling her eyes in jest. “Do you think I’m crazy for doing this?”
“No. I think it’s an amazing opportunity! I’m just going to miss your company,” Fraidy mimicked a sad face but a second later her phone rang and she quickly turned to answer it.
Dina observed her co worker as she casually flipped her beautiful sheitel over her shoulder while she typed on her keyboard. She wasn’t exactly jealous of Fraidy; she just couldn’t help that slight feeling of resentment towards her.
‘‘Everyone has different nisyonos,’’ she told herself.” No one’s life is perfect"
Thinking of her friend,Dina picked up her cell phone and began to text Shaindy.

Hey. Guess what! Just officially accepted the promo!
Party 2night in the city to celebrate??

Before she was able to put her phone down, it buzzed.

🙂 Sounds awesome! Wanna try that new Chinese place on 5th! Friend went there on date n she said its gr8...and congrats on new job! I’m intimidated! 🙂 Pick me up at 7???

A few hours later Dina was driving along the highway on the way to Manhattan, with Shaindy riding shotgun and humming along to the cd playing in the background.

Thank g-d I have my own car," Dina thought as they headed towards the battery tunnel. “Leasing this car was the best decision I ever made.”
She found a perfect spot right in front of the restaurant, and pulled in smoothly.
“I’m starving,” groaned Shaindy. “I’m ready to eat a house."
Shaindy was a year younger than Dina. They had been friendly in high school while they headed the choir for the school play together.
Two years ago they coincidentally met up at the gym and rekindled that old friendship. They had been partners in crime ever since.

They walked into the posh restaurant and waited to be seated. It felt like forever until the waiter appeared with their plates of mouth watering, Chinese delicacies.
“So cool about the job Dina," Shaindy stated through mouthfuls of sesame chicken. “I’m really ganna miss you!...and I actually have some good news of my own,” she continued.
Dina Stopped chewing and looked up.
“I have a date tomorrow night!” Shaindy said a little too quickly.
“Niiiice, anyone interesting?’’ Dina replied sarcastically.
Shaindy had definitely dated her share of weirdoes. She was a really sweet, smart girl, but …well let’s just say she wasn’t exactly a size 0. Plus her parents were divorced and they really didn’t have any money.
“Actually,” Shaindy said excitedly ‘’this one sounds pretty normal. “

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Post Re: Ongoing Story
on: April 11, 2013, 4:32 PM

They finished up their meal with minimal chitchat as they analyzed the dates around them, and then bentched.
“How about we go walking a little by the Hudson river,” Shaindy suggested. “It’s so warm out and I could use the exercise after all that food.”
Before Dina could answer, her phone beeped as a text came in.
It was from Esty.
“Hey,” it read. “What time you ganna be home? I need to borrow your car asap!! Ma and ta @ a wedding in Monsey and I have a gown appt at 9!! Plz!!”
Dina read the text as a wave of fury washed over her. She wasn’t even sure why she was so mad. Esty simply wanted to borrow her car as she had done numerous times before. Her car, that she paid for with her hard earned money.
No!
She was out having fun now. Her life doesn’t have to stop because Esty has a gown appointment.
Dina turned off her phone and slipped it into her bag.
“Let’s go walking,” she said with defiance, secretly hating herself with every fiber of her being.

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Post Re: Ongoing Story
on: April 12, 2013, 1:46 AM

The LED digits on her dash glowed 10:45 as Dina turned onto her dimly lit tree-lined street. It had been a fun night. Shaindy and Dina had walked a bit, then they had found a place to sit and had shmoozed for awhile. Finally, they had driven home and Dina had dropped Shaindy off. Now, as Dina parked her car by the curb in front of her house, she wondered what was waiting for her inside. She was not disappointed.

As she opened the front door, almost immediately Esty swooped down on her.

"Where were you the whole night? Why was your phone off? Ma and Ta weren't home and I had a gown appointment! I couldn't get through to Ma, so I had to take her car without permission!"

"I'm sorry," said Dina, feeling anything but that. "I was in the city with Shaindy. I'm allowed to have some fun once in awhile. And so, big deal, you took Ma's car without permission. Why didn't you ask her before she left if you could take it? Think ahead for once. What did you want from me anyway?"

"What do I want from you?" asked Esty shrilly. "I want you to be supportive! Don't you know that engagement is one of the hardest times for a kallah?"

Something inside Dina snapped. "No I wouldn't know," she replied coldly. "In case you forgot, I've never been engaged. Me, your older sister by two years. Can't you be sensitive? Why do you have to rub it in?"

Esty was almost crying now. "I hate this! I should be so happy. Instead, I feel awful. You make me feel so guilty! Can't you just be happy for me? Why do you make me feel like I did something wrong? I asked you before I started dating if I could, and you agreed!"

"Well, what did you want me to say?" shot back Dina. "Grow old with me as we stay single together? Plus, it isn't my fault if you're not happy."

"Girls! Girls!" suddenly their mother was standing between them like a referee in a boxing match, the only thing she was missing was the whistle.

"It's important that you have this discussion, I know it's hard for both of you, but you cannot talk about it like this. First of all, Esty, you knew it was fine to take my car to your appointment, so why are you blaming Dina? She did nothing wrong, and this conversation should not be about that. I think both of you need to sleep on this and you can discuss things tomorrow. For now, this discussion is over."

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Post Re: Ongoing Story
on: April 12, 2013, 10:53 AM

It took a while for Dina to fall asleep, glaring at the ceiling, knowing Esty across the room was doing the same. She had had a fun night with Shaindy, but that was ruined. Esty had been thoughtless, expecting her car to be available, without a word in advance! She could have taken Ma's car without all this fuss. It wasn't like Esty to be this irrational.

Then she had a thought: What if it wasn't about the car or the appointment? The initial euphoria of the l'chaim and vort had worn off, leaving blatant reality. Marriage was a major step, and while Yehuda was definitely Esty's bashert, any sort of life change, even a joyous one, is nerve-racking. Maybe Esty had wanted Dina nearby but didn't want to admit it to herself.

Mulling this over, she felt the tension ease. As she drifted off to sleep, she was determined to try harder with Esty. She should be a role model, even now, to her little sis.

The two eyed each other warily in the morning, but they managed to wish each other a good day when they left the house. Making preparations for the office was going to keep Dina busy 'round the clock now, but she made a point to keep sending Esty encouraging texts throughout. She was leaving town soon, and only had a little while longer to be present for her little sister.

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Post Re: Ongoing Story
on: April 12, 2013, 12:21 PM

Esty walked into the elementary school building with the ever present knots in her stomach. The sickening feeling, of fatigue and anxiousness combined, seemed to be her only companion that morning. 4 yr old chanie was chatting away about her baby brother’s new shoes, but Esty was only half listening.
Esty didn’t love her job as a SEIT. She had chosen to major in Special Ed. simply because it was an easy and fast degree. The money was descent but it was almost impossible to maintain a full caseload for an entire school year. The field was so flooded she sometimes felt as disposable as a tissue.
“Well, I’m moving to Lakewood in 3 months,’’ She pondered as she helped chanie unbutton her coat. “New Jersey has even less opportunities for Special Ed.! I wonder if I’ll even get a job there at all. And even if I do, the pay rate is half!” This thought flitted from her mind as Morah Malky, the kindergarten teacher, began to chant Modeh ani with the girls.
At lunchtime, Esty took out her cell phone and saw that she had 4 new messages.
Her heart thumped loudly as she noticed they were from her sister. Oh how she wished Dina would just be normal about the whole thing and grow up!
“Ok, now I’m just being selfish ,“ she chastised herself. She knew the car incident was only the tip of the iceberg. It wasn’t about that.
She opened the first text.
Hey Hope you have a great day!
She opened the next one.
How was your gown appt btw?
Esty shut her phone in frustration. “My sister can be so confusing sometimes, “ She mused as she drank her coffee. “Did she wanna be a part of it or not? I need to speak to someone,“ Esty decided. “And it can’t be Mommy! She’ll just make things more complicated.” She pulled out her phone again to text her old sem friend, Aliza.
“Hey. How r ya? Do you by any chance have Reb. Keller’s Israel home number? Need to get in touch w/ her. tnx”
“Time for cleanup,” Morah Malky announced loudly as the girls threw away the remnants of their lunches.
Esty watched Chanie as she eagerly jumped up to throw away her milk container. “Life was once so simple,’’ she reflected. “Enjoy it while you can,” She whispered to no one in particular.

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Post Re: Ongoing Story
on: April 12, 2013, 2:47 PM

Her day dragged on, as she tried to at least pretend to be watching Chanie. Yet as soon as the day ended she raced home and dialled Reb. Keller. Starting off unsure of herself but quickly feeling comfortable, she poured out all her frustrations to the teacher. She didn't know how long it took, but when she was finished Reb. Keller told her just one thing. She said that she should allow Dina to have her space. She tried to explain that not everyone is able to be happy in such a situation, and that she should think of how Dina must be feeling. She also added that she should try to allow Dina to see how she is feeling, and explain to her that she needs her big sister. By making Dina feel needed she will make Dina feel better.
Unsure what to respond Dina got off the phone with Reb. Keller and began to think how she should proceed. What would be the best response, how could she try to dispel some of the awkwardness that was being felt in the house. While thinking she flipped through her phone and read the most recent text that Dina had sent. With complete shock and bewilderment she read, [/i]Sorry about last night, I am just going through a hard time. [i] That was the last thing she would have expected, but she was very happy to hear it. Maybe something can be worked out, and once Dina moves out the pressure will be much less anyway, she thought quietly to herself.

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Post Re: Ongoing Story
on: April 13, 2013, 10:50 PM

The vort hall was buzzing with a mix of chit chat and squeals of laughter. Dina made her way through the crowd, while subconsciously running her fingers through her bangs. She was genuinely happy to be here, giving herself a break from the tedious task of packing for her big move, only 3 days away!
Chaya Rochel, her friend from the bungalow colony, had gotten engaged the night before and tonight was the vort! Esty hadn’t been able to come, she had been too tired. Dina was feeling better since she apologized to her sister, and the tension was dissipating. She wasn’t sure if it was her imagination, but Esty’s attitude seemed rather genial.
She spotted the kallah right away and headed in that direction. She waited until Chaya Rochel finished with the middle aged lady she was talking to, and tapped her on the shoulder.
“Ohmigosh! Dee-nah! Thanks so much for coming,’’ She squealed as she pulled Dina into a tight hug.
“Chaya Rochel, you look incredible,” Dina said similing. “Im so excited for you! I was wondering where you were the night of Esty’s vort. Guess you were busy!’’ They both laughed.
“You are so skinny Dina! Do you ever eat? “
Dina accepted the compliment with a forced bashfulness. She was proud of her great figure. She liked to be in shape and look good!
At that moment Chaya Rochel noticed another good friend right behind Dina.
“Dina thanks so much for being here. It means a lot! Iyh by you very, very soon!” she said with a more serious expression, stressing the second “very”.
They hugged again and Dina walked away, glancing around for her Mother. To her surprise, she spotted her co worker sitting by a table alone, nibbling at some pastry.
“Fraidy?” Dina said loudly, trying to be heard over the noise.
Fraidy looked up startled! Her face paled a little, but she quickly recovered and smiled.
“Dina! What are you doing here?”
“I’m good friends with Chaya Rochel from the country! What brings you here? You didn’t tell me you had a vort,” Dina replied with curiosity.
“You were too busy working to schmooze today! Anyways, the chosson is first cousins with my husband!” She stopped abrubtly as if a realization came to her. “Um it’s really late, I think I’m ganna leave now. See you tomorrow Dina. Gnite.”
Fraidy stood up and walked towards the exit.
Well that was weird, thought Dina, a little flustered. Fraidy was acting odd. Did I say something wrong?
She shrugged as she checked the time on her phone. It was almost 11. Shaindy would be back from her second date soon! She had really enjoyed herself on Tuesday night and she felt it definitely had potential. Dina swallowed hard at the thought.
“Ma,” she called, as she recognized her mother’s sequined top. "Ready to go?"

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Post Re: Ongoing Story
on: April 13, 2013, 11:13 PM

As if on cue, Dina's phone buzzed at 11:30. It was Shaindy, of course.

"U still up? I wanna c u!"

Dina quickly typed a reply and hit send. Three minutes later Shaindy's text came in.

"Outside!"

As Dina got into Shaindy's car, Shaindy was already babbling excitedly. "We had a really good time! There was not one moment of silence, and we talked about deep stuff. And it's so funny, you know I'm not the deep type..."

As much as Dina wanted to be there for her friend, she kind of zoned out after the first couple minutes of excited chattering. It was late, and she was tired. She had had enough of all the excitement in the past couple of days. She knew it was selfish, but until she was the one celebrating her vort or talking about a guy that she thought she would marry, she just didn't want to think about l'chaims and diamond rings.

Suddenly, it was quiet in the car. "Dina? You okay? I'm sorry, am I rambling too much?" Shaindy looked contrite and maybe even a little embarrassed. "Where were tonight, by the way? You look really nice."

"Oh, a friend from the bungalow's vort. Don't think you know her."

"You're so good that you go to everyone's vort. Are you really even friend's with her? Doesn't it get annoying after awhile? You know, to get all dressed up just for a couple of minutes to say mazel tov?"

"A little, but more because people look at you like, 'nebach, she's how old and isn't married yet?' And then the 'Iy"H by you's are grating after awhile, no matter how sincere. But anyway, we were talking about you. Sorry I spaced out. It's awesome that it's going so well."

"Yeah, but did you hear what I just said? How do I know for sure that he's "the one"?"

"Omigosh, Shaindy! It's only your second date!" laughed Dina. "Give it time. You can't know after meeting someone twice if you're going to marry him. I mean, you've dated other guys twice before, even for way longer. I don't have to remind you of that guy you dated for 6 weeks!"

"Yeah, but that was different! All those guys were. This just feels, I don't know, much more on the right track. You get what I mean?"

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Post Re: Ongoing Story
on: April 14, 2013, 11:28 PM

On Motzei Shabbos, Dina sat in the middle of her bedroom floor surrounded by piles of her stuff. She had a stack of sweaters, a mesh bag full of tights, her makeup case and toiletries all organized, ready to be put neatly in her oversized duffel bag. But at that moment, Dina’s attention was elsewhere.
She gazed pensively at the photo in her hands. It was a family picture, taken 5 years ago at her brother, Yisroel Meir’s, Bar mitzvah. She had only been 20 then, barely having entered the agonizing world of shidduchim. The look in her eyes was jovial, full of hope and anticipation. She had been so naïve, so sure that it would be simple and easy, just as it had been for all of her already happily married peers. She could not have dreamed of what was to come, the roller coaster of emotions, the ups and downs, the tears the laughs, the anger and frustration.
Man plans, G-d laughs, Dina thought of the phrase her grandmother often quoted.
And how true that is!, she sighed as she put the picture down.
But before she was able to restrain the turmoil arising inside her, the sigh turned into a sob...and then, those wet, salty, droplets were falling silently down her cheeks.
What am I doing, she thought bitterly, I should be packing to move into my own home, with a husband, like all other normal girls my age. But instead, I’m leaving here all alone.
Stop it Dina, the other voice in her head, the more rational one, Chided. You know Hashem has a plan and everything is for the best! Nisyonos are here to make us grow, and become better, not to make us bitter and angry.
Dina stood up and walked to the table beside her bed. She opened the small drawer and took out her tehillim, the purple leather one that Esty had brought her from Israel, with her name, Dina Rivka, engraved in gold on the cover. She sat down on the edge of her bed and opened it. And then she davened and cried until her body succumbed to exhaustion.

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Post Re: Ongoing Story
on: April 15, 2013, 4:55 PM

Chapter 3
The next morning dawned bright and sunny. Dina opened her eyes and squinted, as the beams of sunlight seeping through the shades met her eyes. Esty was still sleeping in bed, her blanket halfway on the floor. Her steady breathing was slow and heavy. Dina got up to wash her hands and face and returned to her room. She was surprised to find that all her things she had left on the floor the previous night were neatly packed in her suitcases. She noticed a small gift wrapped package lying on top of her duffel bag. There was a card attached. Still in her bathrobe, Dina walked over and lifted the flap of the envelope. She opened the card curiously, and began to read.

To my dearest Big Sister,

Dina, I have no words to express how I feel while writing this letter. The jumble of emotions running though me right now is indescribable.
What do I say to you? Where do I start? You have been there for me every step of my life. From my first night at camp, when you stayed up with me till 3 am, to gladly giving me all your notes to study from in high school and then prepping me before every date. You might laugh at this and consider these things to be dumb, normal sister things, but to me it meant the world! I don’t mean to get all mushy and awkward (lol). I just want you to know that I truly appreciate everything you have done for me, and continue to do! And I know you hate when people say this, but there is one super lucky guy out there who will find you very soon. I know it!!! I am positive that one day we will understand the reasoning behind all Hashem’s mysterious, and sometimes painful, ways. Just continue being the incredible girl you are and you will see everything will work out. I am going to miss you so so much! Even though ill be seeing you some shabbasim, im really ganna miss our late night discussions and shopping sprees at the mall! Whose ganna check my outfit every morning to make sure I look normal? Haha. Ok I guess I could always text you a pic to get your approval. I’m really happy for you though. Iyh, this job will lead to many great things! I hope you like the gift! …Just wanted to give you something small to help try and express how truly grateful I am. I seriously thank Hashem every day for giving me a sister like you.
Love your fave and only sis,

Esty

Ouch. Dina choked back tears as she put the card back in its envelope. She felt a huge lump in her throat and tried to swallow. She knew Esty had good intentions, but for some reason, reading the letter made her feel even more sensitive, almost pathetic. She didn’t want any presents or sympathy. Why did everyone make her feel as if she was dying?
And then she felt even worse.
Here I go again, turning something positive into a bad thing, she scolded herself. This emotional instability seemed to be tainting her every notion since Esty’s engagement. She took the small gift wrapped box and tossed it into her bag. I’ll open it later, Dina decided.
In the meantime, she had some last minute errands to run.

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Post Re: Ongoing Story
on: April 15, 2013, 6:56 PM

It had been three whole days since Dina's family had all somberly watched from the front lawn as she finished packing her car and left the house she had lived in for almost 23 years. They had moved in when she was two and half, so this was essentially the only home she knew. As she had waved one last time to her family and taken one last glance at the only place she'd ever called home, she tried to be optimistic, looking forward to the new opportunity she was embracing and hoping it would open many doors for her. Yet, as she had turned the corner and her home was no longer in sight, her eyes welled with tears. At first she tried to blink them away, but as she turned onto the freeway, she became aware of hot salty rivulets running down her face, once again.

Dina wasn't really certain why she was weeping. Perhaps the stress of the past few weeks had finally caught up with her. That made sense, because she had cried a lot more the past few days than she had ever cried in her life, except maybe when she had been homesick in camp. Perchance Dina was bawling because she was leaving her home, her family, her friends -- the people who loved her and supported her and helped her become the person she was. Maybe Dina was finally letting out all of the pain she felt from feeling like she would never be able to experience the happiness of standing under the chuppah with the one person in the world that she trusted and cherished the most. No matter whatever the catalyst had been for her intense bawling, the cry had been cathartic. After she had finally calmed down, albeit she was left with annoying hiccups, Dina had felt much better. She was ready to close the door on that chapter of her life and begin a new one.

Dina had found the apartment, unpacked, and after a quick meal, she had gone straight to the new office. Mr. Greenberg, who was staying in the area for a couple days to help Dina get things up and running, had met her there. After a long day, she had come home to finally meet her new roommates.

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Post Re: Ongoing Story
on: April 16, 2013, 1:44 PM

"Hi, I'm Rachelli."

After a long day, Dina was greeted by an open smile at the door. In Rachelli's eyes there was a brightness, a cheerfulness, that Dina trusted immediately. Oh, please, let her be nice, Dina silently prayed to herself. "Yes, of course, we spoke on the phone. It's so nice to meet you!" She sniffed the air appreciatively. "Mmmm, something smells delicious!"

"Homework!" Rachelli explained, laughing. "This cooking class I am taking will be strictly in your favor; come have a seat, and I expect you to give me an honest critique." Rachelli earnestly arranged a plate of veal scallopini and garlic infused potatoes. "Shifra will be back later; her hours are pretty tough now at the hospital."

The two became acquainted over dinner, and in no time the conversation segued from "Getting to know you" to "Who has the worst dating story."

After a number of hilarious anecdotes, both their ribs were aching. "That's probably why I enrolled in a cooking class," Rachelli said while wiping away tears of mirth. "I always found chopping and dicing and pounding meat to be cathartic, and as the stress level of being single went up, I desperately needed something to bring me down."

There was a jangle of keys at the door. "Ah, that will be Shifra." An exhausted, disheveled girl crawled in and simply fell on the couch. "Fooooooood," she groaned. Rachelli clucked maternally over the unmoving bulge on the couch and scurried off to get her a plate.

"Hi there," Dina offered. Shifra managed to open one eye; it was vivid green. "Nice. Meet. You. Talk. Soon?"

Dina made up her bed that night feeling much happier than she had in a while. While being with an understanding family was nice, there was always that undercurrent of disappointment. These girls knew what it was like, the "IY'H by yoooouuuu," the dud suggestions, feeling judged and found wanting.

There was a tentative tap at the door, and Rachelli stuck her head in, her bright red hair pulled back into a messy bun for the night. She flashed that brilliant smile again. "Just to warn you about the shower, it does this weird thing . . ." Dina could hear a dragging sound that must be Shifra hauling herself to bed.

Dina's phone buzzed, and she ignored it as Rachelli gave her helpful advice on the apartment's plumbing; when she closed the door, she saw it was a text from Shaindy. "OMG, fifth date!!! Need to talk to you!"

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Post Re: Ongoing Story
on: April 16, 2013, 5:26 PM

Dina brought up shaindy’s number and eagerly hit the send button on her phone.
‘‘Omg, Dina, you are not going to believe this,’’ Shaindy started rambling “…..so we were sitting on the bench in central Park and all of a sudden he gets all serious and he’s like, ‘listen Shaindy there’s something I have to tell you’ so you know, I was thinking ok maybe he’s going to tell me he doesn’t feel anything or he’s not so sure it’s going to work or something like that -but listen to this!!!!!! Dina, he’s on meds!! Can u believe it? I was so shocked I just sat there totally frozen I didn’t know what to say. So he told me he understands if I wanna think about it and he took me home. I just got home this second I don’t know what to do I didn’t even tell my mother yet!” Shaindy was talking fast and hysterically.

Dina listened quietly, but truthfully, she wasn’t that shocked. She hadn’t wanted to mention anything to Shaindy, from fear of being suspected of jealousy, but Dina had an inkling of something of this sort. Aryeh sounded like a dream boy. He was a serious learner in a really good yeshiva, from a nice balabatish family. His father was a well known askun in his community, and he seemed to have wonderful middos. And he was tall and good looking! It wasn’t that Dina didn't think Shaindy to be deserving of such an outstanding boy, she was just being realistic.
“Dina, DINA! Do you hear me? He’s on meds. He’s a loony.”Shaindy sounded frantic, almost panic –stricken.
“Um, Shaindy," Dina began tentatively. " I hate to be the one to say this cuz I would probably be going crazy too, but just…you know… as an objective opinion, maybe you should sleep on it….you know..after you calm down and reevaluate . Maybe it’s not so bad. You could like, talk to his Doctors and stuff and find out what the issue is.Did he say what’s wrong with him? Like what exactly he’s on medication for?” Dina finished and held her breath. She didn’t want to upset Shaindy, but she also didn't want to acquiesce and possibly blow this out of proportion.
Shaindy sighed loudly. “I know, you’re right…. im just confused. I didn’t see this coming. It was going so well and I reaaallllly like him…. But yeh, I guess now that I think about it, it was kind of too good to be true. …’’
Dina smiled. Shaindy was so honest with herself, and so mature! I could really take a lesson out of her book, thought Dina.
“….it’s all from Hashem…whatever’s meant to be,will be! “ Shaindy finished with another long sigh. “Wait a sec,'’ She suddenly perked up. “Deen, how’s the new apartment, the roommates? I was so caught up with my own drama I totally forgot!’’
Dina laughed. “That’s ok Shaindy, So far it’s pretty good! My roommates are nice enough. One of them, Rachelli, she’s doing some cooking class and whatever, she’s a real character. She kinda reminds me of one of my roommates from sem. It’s funny. Anyways, I am bombed right now and I have a long day ahead of me getting the office set up. But try to get some sleep and we'll schmooze tomorrow .”
They wished each other good night ,and hung up. Dina plugged her phone into its charger and got ready for her shower.
First day – Success! She thought as she began to hum her favorite song. Maybe this won’t be so bad.

After showering and brushing her teeth, Dina crawled into her bed, ready to conk out the second her head hit the pillow. But as she was about to drift off, she remembered something. She got back out of bed, switched on the light and walked over to her bag that she had thrown Esty’s present into earlier that day. She fished it out and gently peeled off the sparkly wrapping paper.
One tear sprung from Dina’s eye.
It was a beautiful, framed picture of the two of them hugging, and smiling brightly at the camera, at Esty’s vort. On the bottom of the photo, a single quote was printed; Sisters are connected heart to heart, time and distance can’t keep them apart - Love A&F, Esty
There was something else too, and Dina now found herself laughing as she saw what it was.
They had started a ritual a few years back. On Thursday nights, after they finished the shabbos shopping, the two of them would go to the Seven eleven near their house, and buy a huge 24 oz. slurpee to share. In her hands, Dina was holding a voucher for two, 24 oz slurpees. On the card it read - Next time we each get our own! LOL
Dina laughed to herself for about a minute before picking up her phone and sending a text to her sister.
Hey! Just got around to opening it! ur 2 funny!! Can’t wait to show the pic 2 my roomates! …and I am definitely lookin frward 2 my own slurpee! It’s a date! Tnx u rok!

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Post Re: Ongoing Story
on: April 16, 2013, 9:37 PM

And now, three days since first day success, Dina's high spirits had yet to fade. Things were going well, and she felt almost complete. At home there had been this gaping feeling that she didn't belong. Among her new roommates she felt a sense of belongingness and acceptance. She knew it was probably all in her head, because her family loved her and she had had a good job. Still, most of the people she had grown up with had long since moved on. She had a new identity here. She got along well, so far, with her roommates and there was a feeling of camaraderie; they were all in the same boat. Here their single status did not define them. They were successful young women moving ahead in life, in the way they could control. And B"H Dina felt successful; 'her' office was thriving. Somehow Dina was even able to be there for her best friend who was struggling with possibly the hardest decision she had had to make thus far in her life, and still hold onto that heady sense of euphoria.

Presently, Dina reached to answer the office phone on her desk that was ringing, wondering why Mr. Greenberg hadn't picked it up. He was still there for a few more days before he went home.

"Hello?" the voice on the line sounded hesitant. "I'm calling for Mr. Greenberg. I have an interview with him in ten minutes, and I just wanted to let him know that I'm going to be a few minutes late."

"Okay, I'll give him the message. What's your name? I'm Dina by the way, the office manager."

"My name is Shira Thaler. Thank you."

Dina hung up and went to find Mr. Greenberg. It seemed that he had stepped out. Dina sent him a quick text.

Your interview, a Shira Thaler, called to say she'll be a few minutes late.

A minute later Mr. Greenberg's reply came through.

Could you handle the interview? I got caught up with something. Her credentials are impressive. Just see if you think you could work with her.

Cool, Dina thought. Now Mr. Greenberg even trusts me for hiring decisions.

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Post Re: Ongoing Story
on: April 17, 2013, 7:07 PM

That night, Dina sat on her bed, legs crossed, in her favorite hooded sweatshirt. It was unseasonably cold outside and the impending downpour was evident in the blackening sky. Dina shivered and silently wished that Rachelli would have showed her how to adjust the apartment’s heating. It was 7:15 and she was the only one home. She still hadn’t figured out her roommate’s exact schedules, but she knew that Shifra had recently begun a nursing job and often worked the night shift, and Rachelli, well she wasn’t really sure what Rachelli did. That girl was everywhere.
Her laptop was situated in front of her, and she leaned forward as she browsed the web for some gown possibilities. They had finally all agreed to go with a blush color theme. Dina was ok with that. Her dark brown hair and chocolate eyes complimented most shades of pink and beige.
Her eyes began to sting from the glaring light of her computer screen. She closed it and walked over to the window just as torrents of rain broke through the heavy, black clouds. Dina flinched as a flash of lightening sparked the sky, and the trees below swayed violently. The scene could have almost been one of a painting, or something out of a storybook. And now, for the first time since she moved, Dina felt a twinge of homesickness. She went back to her computer to check her email and saw that she had five new messages. Three were from random companies promoting their latest discounts and free shipping offers. One was some ‘inspirational’ feature from her old co worker who was always forwarding these kinds of things. The most recent one though, with a subject, MAZEL TOV RIKKI!! , was from her seminary’s email address. One girl had started this emailing list right after seminary, as a way of keeping everyone updated with all the news.
Dina clicked on it and read:
Huge mazel tov to Rikki (Klein) Moskowitz on the birth of a baby boy!!!! May we continue to share in many simchos!!!!
Dina felt a pang somewhere within the four chambers of her heart, as she read the email again. This was Rikki's third child if she remebered correctly. She had been good friends with Rikki during her year in Israel, and then kept in touch after they came home until…until Rikki got engaged. Dina, and a few other New Yorker’s, had even flown out to Chicago to be at her wedding. But just likes so many of Dina’s other friends, Rikki had fell off planet earth soon after her chuppah. Ok maybe she didn’t exactly make the biggest effort to keep in touch either, Dina admitted to herself, but she didn’t feel like being the lonely, single friend who had to chase after everyone while they went about their busy lives!
The rattling of the keys in the front door brought Dina back to the present.
“I’m hoooome,” Rachelli’s voice was perky and cheerful, as usual. “Anybody here?’’
Reluctantly, Dina got up and went to greet her roommate.
“Oh hey, Dina. What’s up? How was your day? Ohmigosh it is so wet out there!!! This weather is crazy! I feel like I just went swimming in my clothes!” Rachelli peeled off her drenched rain coat and removed her soaking wet shoes. “Uch, I shoulda worn my boots today!” She groaned as she ran her fingers through her dripping hair.
Immediately, Rachelli noticed the solemn look on Dina’s face. “What’s wrong girl? You look upset!’’
“Um, nothing…Just a little homesick,” She replied hesitantly.
Rachelli smiled knowingly at her. “Right, whatever you say… Hey how about we schmooze over some hot chocolate? I have an awesome recipe!’’
Dina laughed. “A recipe for hot coaoa! Are you for real???? Thanks, but anyways im fleishig now…I had some Deli for dinner.”
“Ok, so how about some tea? I have these amazing tea leaves that add incredible flavor, way better than coffee!” She walked into the kitchen and began shuffling around. Within minutes they were both sitting across from each other at the kitchen table, with steaming hot cups of green tea. The aroma was amazing, and after Dina took one zip, she had to admit, this was the best tea she ever tasted!
“So what’s up,” Rachelli started with a defiant, yet concerned, look in her eyes.
With a little unease, Dina found herself opening up to this complete stranger.

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Post Re: Ongoing Story
on: April 18, 2013, 12:40 AM

Dina's talk with Rachelli had been surprisingly cathartic. It was so neat how Rachelli just "got" her even though she barely knew her. Half the time Dina didn't even have to explain what she was feeling; Rachelli beat her to it. As she was describing Esty's engagement, Rachelli jumped in with a pretty accurate depiction of the amalgam of emotion -- the jealousy, the pain, the joy, the guilt, the longing. Dina found herself able to speak to her about everything. They spoke about how Dina's parents still treated her like a child, how their friends where having their third, fourth, and even fifth kids, how they tried their best to remember that Hashem had a special plan for them, and oh, how hard it was. Rachelli shared her struggles as well, and by the time they were halfway through the conversation, they felt like they had known each other for years.

It didn't seem the least bit strange that Rachelli, this girl that she had known for a total of 72 hours, give or take, had spilled her life story. Rachelli had related how she was originally from LA and how her mother had passed away when she was only 16. Rachelli dolefully went on to depict how her father had remarried soon after, and how she and her new stepmother just couldn't see eye to eye. Dina could hardly believe that there was someone Rachelli didn't get along with! But, there had been a lot of friction in the house, and Rachelli felt like she just needed to get out of there. At that point, not only was rocky relationship between Rachelli and her stepmother ruining Rachelli's life, it was damaging the tenuous relationship that had started to develop between her and the rest of the family. Finally, things came to a head, and in a long emotional talk with her father, they decided that it would be best if she went to live with her mother's sister and her family in a small town in the Midwest. Soon after she returned from seminary though, Rachelli had moved out to the East Coast and had been occupying this apartment for the past 6 years. Rachelli had a lot of family, some extremely nearby, so she had never been lonely even during the time periods that she had lived in the apartment alone. Rachelli expressed similar emotions to those that Dina had when she spoke of past roommates, how many of them had gotten engaged and moved on while she was stuck in the same spot for years.

It felt really good to be able to let it all out without worrying that they sounded like pessimists or whiners. They understood each other. Within the confines of their apartment, it was okay to drop the happy person persona they generally put on for the world at large. It didn't mean they were unhappy depressed people. It was an exercise in being human.

Towards the end of their conversation, which could have continued the entire night had there not been any interruptions, Dina's phone jangled loudly. As she reached over to silence it, she noticed that it was Shaindy. They'd been playing phone tag for a good part of the day.

"I think I need to get this. Do you mind? It's my friend who--" Dina asked apologetically.

Rachelli cut her off. "No need to explain. Dating sitch, am I right, or am I right? Take it, girlfriend. We can schmooze anytime. Good talk."

"Thanks, Rachelli. You're the best. I'll be in my room."

"Hey Shaindy!" Dina said as she hit the Talk button.

"Dina! OMG OMG, so glad I finally got you. I'm going insane! I don't know what to do. So I spoke to a lot of people and it seems like it isn't the biggest deal. His condition is stable and manageable, and he's perfectly normal, as long as he takes his meds. It's not like he's a girl and he might have to stop taking them during pregnancy, so there's no reason why he should relapse."

Shaindy paused to take a breath.

Dina wasn't sure what to say. She wanted to be a good friend, and she did not want to push Shaindy in either direction. That wasn't her place. She wasn't Shaindy's dating mentor. She was too nogaya b'davar.

"Ok, so then what's the issue?"

"The issue," Shaindy wailed, "is that I just don't know if I can handle it! I'm trying to be mature about it, but like, why me? Why can't I marry someone normal?"

"Hang on, tell me why he isn't normal. He seems way more 'normal' than some of the other guys you dated, and some of the guys I've went out with even."

"I don't know, I just don't know! He's taking medication for a mental illness!"

"And so? Some other people should be, but aren't. Which is the better scenario? The person who admits that he has a problem, and takes steps to fix it, or the one that ignores it? Listen, I'm not telling you what to do, I'm just saying that you should be fair. Be fair to him; be fair to yourself."

Shaindy was quiet for a moment. It seemed as if Dina had been temporarily able to halt the thunderstorm of emotion whirling through the phone line. Finally, Shaindy spoke. "Dina, that's the issue! How can I continue to see him, if I'm just not sure?"

"Isn't that what dating is all about? You continue to go out with someone if you see potential, or think there could be potential, until you realize that there isn't. Shaindy, you don't have to tell me, but think about this -- is there enough here so far that you think that this could work out, despite the fact that there is this one big thing that is bothering you? Or, since I know you can't see past this medication thing, let's try to make this a little easier for you. Pretend that the issue is something else. Pretend he's not on meds. Pretend he has a character trait that bugs you or maybe there's a question if you can get along with his family, whatever. The question is, do you think that you will be able to see past that when you get to know him better? Will the big picture of who he is shrink that troubling aspect by comparison? I'm not a rav or dating coach, but I really think that if the answer could be yes, then you should continue."

"Yeah?" Shaindy squeaked.

"Hey, I'm not telling you that you should. I said that if you think about what I said and you can see yourself moving forward in that situation, then you should give this one a chance."

"What about leading him on?"

"Same as with any other circumstances. Tell the shadchan that you're willing to continue, but that you have concerns. You can even discuss it with him, maybe he'll have something to say that will help you put it all in the right light."

"Wow, Dina. I knew there was a reason we were friends! You're such a wise woman."

"Aww thanks, Shay. But that's about all I've got. You've used up my wisdom for tonight, maybe for the week." Dina laughed.

"'K, let me know what happens. I'm going to go now." Dina yawned.

"You know I will," replied Shaindy. "Thanks so much for the listening ear and the advice. Good night high-powered-office-manager-friend."

"'Night."

Dina hung up and looked thoughtfully at her phone. Where had all that wisdom come from? she wondered. I guess that's what happens when you've been dating for as long as I have, she concluded. So much deep emotional conversation in one night. Maybe I should have become a social worker or a life coach! Well, all in a day's work! she laughed to herself. Speaking, or rather, thinking of work, Dina reflected, I had better get to sleep. Tomorrow Dina was meeting the two other employees that Mr. Greenberg had hired for their office. Another young married girl, Dina wondered how young this one might be, and a single girl a year or two younger than her.

As she was getting ready for bed, Dina's mind drifted to the meeting she had had earlier that day with young, married, Shira Thaler.

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Post Re: Ongoing Story
on: April 18, 2013, 11:08 AM

"I'm so sorry that I'm late," Shira said worriedly.

"It's all right," Dina reassured her.

"My little boy has strep and can't go to playgroup; it took a while to find someone who could watch him last minute." Shira smiled, rather tiredly.

They launched into the interview; Shira's credentials were impressive, as Mr. Greenberg said. She was certainly more qualified than any other applicant, although she didn't seem to realize it. While she never gave a wrong answer, there was unconcealed worry in her eyes.

"OK!" Dina didn't see any point in stringing Shira on; she was definitely going to be hired. Mr. Greenberg had the final say, but he was already taken with Shira's work experience. "While it still has to be confirmed with my boss, I think it is safe to say you will be a valued member of our team."

The relief in Shira's face was gut-wrenching. She closed her eyes, mouthing "Thank you."

Mr. Greenberg confirmed Dina's decision, and Shira was going to be starting tomorrow morning.

Tucked snugly in bed, Dina thought over Shira's emotional reaction to being hired. She had enough married friends to know that marriage could have stresses single gals couldn't know of. If she, hypothetically, lost her job, she would just move back home until she found new employment, and could even have the option to be particular.

Married women, especially if they were supporting their husband, don't have that security. There are expenses, childcare, all sorts of responsibilities.

I want to go into marriage with both eyes open, Dina told herself. It's not happily ever after. But it is still something I want.

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Post Re: Ongoing Story
on: April 18, 2013, 1:50 PM

The next two weeks passed by quickly, with things remaining steady and well. The new office was pulling in clients by the dozen and Mr. Greenberg was pleased. Dina was busier than ever! Most nights she was forced to stay late to wrap things up, as it usually was at the start of a new business, but Shira always had to run home to her husband and kids. It irked Dina that her new co worker was so haphazard and a little unreliable. She sometimes wondered if she had made a mistake in hiring her. Then she would remind herself that Shira, despite her faults, was a skilled worker and the clients appreciated her expertise. On the rare occasion that Dina got to leave on time, she would either go to a local shiur, get a manicure or, like she planned to do tonight, go out and chill with Rachelli.

Dina glanced at the time on her computer; 4:37. Shira was already packing up her things while attempting to tidy up her cluttered space. Dina made herself busy opening random emails, pretending not to notice Shira’s misdemeanor. Without really making eye contact, Shira mumbled something to Dina about the babysitter having an early wedding, and then grabbed her jacket from the back of her chair and left. Dina couldn’t help but compare Shira to her former work mate, Fraidy. They were pretty much the same age and at the same stage in life, yet they were polar opposites. Fraidy had hardly ever come a minute late and possibly hadn’t worn her Sheitel in a pony even once. She had spoken to Fraidy a couple of times since she moved, regarding some work related matters, but Fraidy seemed distant and hadn’t really inquired about Dina’s well being. Not that Dina cared very much, she just found it strange. This thought flitted form her mind as her work phone began to ring, intensifying her already agitated state. She spent the next 25 minutes dealing with an insurance company, while they repeatedly insisted there was a discrepancy in the amount billed for. Dina checked her records a few times, and after a long, drawn out argument, they finally admitted all was accurate.

It was already Thursday night and Dina still wasn’t sure what she was doing for Shabbos. The first week she had gone with Rachelli to her aunt and uncle. It was nice, and Dina appreciated the hospitality but they had 8 kids at home and she had felt obligated to help out. To be perfectly honest, Dina was simply not in the mood. Last week, she and Rachelli had stayed in the apartment and made their own shabbos. It was fun and definitely a preferred alternative to the latter. Shifra, as usual, had gone to a friend. At times, Dina wondered if Shifra was merely a figment of her imagination. She was hardly ever around, and when she was, she was either sleeping or talking on the phone.
Dina got into her car wearily and started up the engine, but as she was about to put the car into drive, her phone buzzed. Dina checked the screen, to find a text from Shaindy. It read two words; It’s over.

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Post Re: Ongoing Story
on: April 18, 2013, 4:40 PM

Dina sat back in her seat and closed her eyes as she debated her next move. She didn’t text anything back.
She pulled out of her parking spot and at that moment, Dina knew exactly where she was going for shabbos. She was going home.
There is no way I am bailing on my best friend when she’s going through a hard time, Dina decided firmly. How many times did I crave my friends after a personal crisis, only to have them nowhere to be found? I am going to be there for Shaindy, just like she was there for me during Esty’s engagement!
She turned onto her block and parked in the first spot she found. She had some packing to do!

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Post Re: Ongoing Story
on: April 19, 2013, 4:20 PM

Dina stared out the window at the unmoving traffic ahead of her. She had left work early, hoping that she would get back to New York with enough time to pop in at Shaindy’s for a bit and get ready for Shabbos, but as reports of a 4 car pileup came through, Dina wasn’t so sure.

While the senseless honking of the vehicles around her was irritating, Dina had other stuff on her mind. She had tried calling Shaindy once the night before, but to no avail. She hadn’t bothered to leave a voicemail and sent her a text instead. She simply wrote, Hey im coming home for shabbos! well talk then? Hope your ok.
At midnight shaindy texted back, Tnx srry abt b4 I was sleeping. U don’t have to come for me. Ill manage. ..But wud luve to c u.

As Dina inched up, she began to think about how she would go about comforting her friend. Dina had been through numerous break ups before, some more serious than others. She was no stranger to the emotional furor that ensued. The relief followed by the doubt which ultimately led to confusion, combined with the crushing awareness of being back to square one. From experience Dina knew that the best medicine consisted of floods of tears and fun day out. After one really distressing break up, Dina had even splurged on the latest model ipod. Another time, she impulsively booked two tickets to Miami and went for 3 days with Tziporah. Whatever works!
And still, as much as she hated to admit it, there was that small sense of relief, that Shaindy, for the time being, was not getting engaged while Dina was left yet again, feeling piteous.

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Post Re: Ongoing Story
on: April 20, 2013, 10:47 PM

A few short hours later, Dina was sitting at the shabbos table indulging in several slices of challah with her favorite, homemade tomato dip. Yisrael Meir and Avromi both had an off shabbos this week, and for the first time in a while the entire family was spending shabbos together! Esty had really had plans to go to Yehuda’s house for the weekend, but postponed them upon hearing of Dina’s homecoming.
The men began to sing zemiros and Dina blithely hummed along. Within no time, the chatter was light and congenial as they relished in the crispy chicken cutlets and spiced potatoes.
“So Dina, how’s the new life you have going on there,” Yisrael Meir bantered. “I hear your running a business now… You better remember all the little people in your life when you strike it rich! Hey, you could buy me a Mercedes …nah actually I’ll take a jaguar!”
“No problem bro,” Dina said sarcastically. “I’ll buy you a private jet too.”
Everyone laughed.
“Hey Dina,” 16-year -old Avromi perked up. “I just started with a new chavrusa and he has a 25 year old brother that’s learning in Lakewood. Maybe he’d be a good shidduch for you?’’
“Uh, Avromi, I’m 25! Most guys don’t wanna date girls that are the same age as them,” Dina said.
“Oy, Dina, why do you always have to be so pessimistic,” her mother chided. “Why do you write things off before you even try! What else do you know about this boy Avromi? Where’s he from?”
“His family lives in Monsey now but I think they lived here in Brooklyn for a while. The name is Berger.”
“ Oh, come on, ” Yisrael Meir piped in. “There must be a million Berger’s in this place. How do you expect us to know who you’re talking about?”
“Hey I just thought I’d mention it,” Avromi said defensively, with his mouth still full of potatoes. “He sounds like a really good guy.”
Avromi, stout and slightly awkward, was good natured, but Dina wasn’t so sure she trusted his judgment. Yisrael Meir, on the other hand, was much more incisive and had the ability to size up a guy in a matter of seconds.
‘’ S’meir, maybe you could check it out, you know like ask around a little and see if it’s the type,” Dina said casually.
Her brother remained quiet, suddenly very interested in picking at the crumbs of his cherry tart.
And then it occurred to her. “Wait a second,” Dina said indignantly. “You don’t think it’s a good shidduch! …What…you think I’m a hopeless case? No one normal is ever ganna go out with me?”
Yisrael Meir opened his mouth and paused, considering how to phrase his next remark. “Well… no….actually…look, you know how it is…the good guys today, they want big money and girls with fancy degrees…ya know…”
Dina sighed and rubbed her temples. She could not believe which direction this conversation was headed. She did not want to go there.
“…..whatever…im just saying…there’s a reason why you’re 25 and not married!” Yisrael Meir finished with impudence.
Dina just sat there silently, not even attempting to argue with her know it all, teenage brother.
Luckily, Esty came to her defense. “Hang on,” she started exasperated. “Weren’t you the one who just finished saying how Dina’s striking it rich? Maybe you should just tell the guy that she’ll buy him a jaguar. That should pique his interest! I mean seriously S’meir, don’t you hear what you sound like, and just for the record, a little wise advice for when you start dating -I hope you focus on more important things than degrees and money.”
Dina shot her a grateful look. She had no energy to fight this one out.
“ A’right Kids that’s enough,” Dina’s father said sternly. “Can we please move on to dessert?’’
“Could we please bentch already,” Bentzi groaned. “I’m falling asleep.”

Later that night Dina thought back to the conversation as she got ready for bed. She wasn’t insulted by her brother’s comment. She had long since learned to ignore his cheekiness. She just couldn’t help wondering if he was right. Was that really why she wasn’t married? Did not having a degree really turn people off? She was earning a nice amount of money, and she now had a skill that could be taken practically anywhere. Then she thought of Esty who had a degree, but was having a really diffucult time finding a steady job. Her parents, though not wealthy by any means, were going to help out as much as possible for the first few years, but Dina knew that was nowhere near enough for them to survive on. Esty had some savings but she was going to be using some of that to help pay for wedding expenses. Dina stared at the ceiling. She hated this uncertainty; always doubting herself if she’s doing the right thing, wondering if there’s anything else she should be doing to make herself more marketable. In the end she always came back to the same conclusion; that as long as she was doing what she feels is right, Hashem will take care of the rest. It doesn't matter what everyone thinks. Hashem is running the world.

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Post Re: Ongoing Story
on: April 21, 2013, 12:20 AM

Shaindy was hurt and angry, but mostly she just felt bad for herself. After all the doubt, anxiety, and indecision, she had finally come to terms with Aryeh's condition, and accepted him for who he was. We all have something, she had decided. His was just more obvious than others'. Better to know at the outset what you're getting yourself into, right? He was so much more than his diagnosis, and Shaindy had been totally willing to look past it. In fact, when she was with him, it was the furthest thing from her mind. Whatever else he was, and she appreciated every bit of who he was, overshadowed this now small concern. And after all that, he had ended it.

Things had been going so well, at least Shaindy had thought so. They enjoyed each others' company and been able to talk about and agree on things that mattered. It felt right to Shaindy, but in the end, it just wasn't enough. During an early dinner in the city late Thursday afternoon, Aryeh had suddenly gotten uncharacteristically silent. Shaindy had looked at him curiously, wondering if he had another bombshell for her. Or maybe he was ready to talk about commitment? Her heart had started fluttering as she watched him expectantly. Aryeh though had been unable to meet her gaze. He had pushed his fork back and forth on this plate, folded and refolded his napkin, and finally he had started talking.

"Listen Shaindy," he had mumbled to his lap. Then he forced himself to look at her. "You're a great girl, and I really enjoyed all the time we've spent together."

Shaindy was confused. Was he proposing without a heads-up? The thought quickly disintegrated as this boy who held her heart in his hands continued. "I really mean it, you're a really special person. Whoever marries you will be a really lucky guy. The thing is..."

Shaindy had stopped processing after that. Her heart was in her throat; she felt she was going to cry, scream, something. She wanted to shake him by the shoulders and demand to know why. She had thought he felt the same way she did. Instead, as Aryeh continued his monologue, now back to mumbling at his plate, Shaindy concentrated on not allowing the tears in her eyes to spill over. She had to put him out of his misery, and she just wanted to go home, kick off her heels, and climb under the covers for a good long cry.

"It's okay," she interrupted him. "I understand," she tried, even though it couldn't be further from the truth. "Why don't you just take me home?"

They had driven home in silence mostly. Shaindy was too scared that if she talked she'd end up sobbing, and Aryeh was seemingly too uncomfortable to make conversation. As Shaindy was about to get out of the car in front of her house, he suddenly broke the awkward silence. "So, ermm, no hard feelings, right? I really meant it when I said you're a great person..."

Shaindy laughed sardonically at the memory. "No hard feelings?" He hadn't even given her a reason why! I suppose it doesn't really matter, she sighed. But the "you're a great person" speech just made things worse. I'm a great person, but just not good enough for you, she thought bitterly. Really, I'm not even good enough for a boy who's suffering from a mental illness?

I need to stop thinking about this, she decided. Everything that happens is for the best. After rehashing it with Dina tomorrow, (Earlier that day there had only been time enough for a quick hug and a chocolate bar.) I'm done mourning what could have been, she resolved. With that thought, Shaindy turned over and finally fell asleep.

. . .

Aryeh also lay awake that Friday night. He couldn't understand the jumble of emotions mixed up inside himself. He just felt, well, bad. Some of it was guilt for leading Shaindy on, even though he had been truthful -- she was a great girl and he did enjoy the time he spent with her. She was fun, and funny, and they understood each other. And so another big part of what he was feeling was self-doubt at letting Shaindy go. There was so many other things that were contributing to his state of mind, but they were muddled, just beyond the reach of his emotional understanding.

He thought it could have worked. They had gotten along well. Her "issues" hadn't come between them at all. In fact they were almost invisible compared to some of things he had encountered with other girls he had dated. So, he had continued. He thought her looks would grow on him when he grew to fully appreciate her for who she was. But, in the end, he had conceded that however much they had gotten along and he had enjoyed spending time with her, he just wasn't attracted to her. He couldn't see himself spending the rest of his life with her. His rebbi had suggested when he had started dating that he might have to compromise on something given his situation. But, after almost four and half weeks, his rebbi had gently implied that this was not what he had meant. This situation read "game over."

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Post Re: Ongoing Story
on: April 21, 2013, 12:42 PM

Dina and Shaindy sat in the car sipping their lattes. Dina had gotten a fully loaded frapuccino, with whip cream and hot chocolate. Shaindy had ordered a simple, low fat, iced coffee with skim milk and splenda. The café had been overly crowded, as was usual for a Motzei Shabbos, so they had taken their drinks to go.
Now, as Shaindy finished rehashing all the heartrending details of her breakup, Dina couldn’t help but be impressed that she hadn’t said one negative thing about Aryeh himself, despite her understandable resentment towards the guy.
They sat in silence for a few minutes, each one absorbed in their own thoughts as they drank.
Finally, Dina broke the silence. “So he didn’t even give a reason? I mean what about the shadchan? Did he say anything to you?” Dina asked incredulously. “How could you break up with someone, after almost 4 weeks, without a solid reason?’’
Shaindy looked out her window, away from Dina. “It’s ok, I don’t need them to spell it out for me. I know why he broke it off. It’s because I’m fat,” Shaindy’s voice was subdued.
“Oh come on Shain- ,” Dina started to object, but shaindy cut her off.
“No, Dina! Stop it. Just admit it! I’m fat and no boy wants a fat girl, even guys with mental illness apparently!”
Dina closed her mouth. In all her years of knowing shaindy, she had never ever seen her this touchy. Her flushed face was palpable even in the dimness of Dina’s car.
“It always ends like this,” Shaindy continued, her voice now a few decibels higher. “I don’t know why I even bother. “ She was talking mostly from bitterness. Dina knew there had been a few guys that were into her and She had said no to them. “Dina I’m so sick of this. I’m sick of dieting! I’m sick of always counting calories and living on lettuce and cucumbers, just to be shut down by one guy after the next. It’s not even like I’m obese…. I mean since when is being a size 14 a crime? I hate this!!!” she screamed. “I hate this I hate this I hate this.” She put her head down and began to sob as she rubbed her eyes with her fingers, smudging her already running eye makeup.
Dina just sat there not knowing what to say. She couldn’t exactly argue the point. She knew Shaindy was right, and these days, weight seemed to be the only thing that mattered on a resume. Well, along with money and degrees, she reminded herself contemptuously.
“Hey, you wanna hear something crazy,” Dina said finally. Shaindy heaved one big, final sob and looked up.
“I overheard my parents talking this afternoon,” Dina continued. “ My mother was saying that a shadchan called this week, but when he heard that I don’t live at home anymore, he got annoyed and told my mother that ‘it’s not good for shidduchim’ and ‘people are going to think something’s wrong.”
They both looked at eahother and Shaindy let out a snicker ....and then Dina did too. In a matter of seconds they were both doubled over with laughter, clutching their sides as they guffawed at the absurdity of society.

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Post Re: Ongoing Story
on: April 22, 2013, 2:31 PM

Dina headed back on Sunday afternoon, confident she had helped Shaindy over the worst of it. She couldn't stand it when people said ridiculous things about what boys supposedly "want" and "don't want." Marriage was about so much more than the shallow; learning boys, of all people, should know that. Whenever these sort of stupid criteria were given voice—even by her own brother!—she was always shocked anew, as though she was hearing it for the first time.

She believed that if she chose to rise above, remaining seemingly oblivious, than she would find her quality guy. After all, plenty of happily married girls out there were chubby, degree-less, and came from less than affluent homes. For instance, a high school classmate, Faigy, was never skinny but her antics kept not only the students, but the morahs, laughing. She had been one of the first girls to get married from the class. The last time Dina had bumped into Faigy on a Shabbos afternoon walk, her husband had been gazing at her. It's all about confidence, Dina considered. Insecurity always made itself known on the outside.

By the second hour on the road, Dina's thoughts strayed in other areas.

At Esty's vort there had been a guy, Yehuda's cousin. Yehuda's mother had nudged Dina and pointed him out, but when she was told that he was in law school Dina ceased to be interested; she informed Mrs. Schwartz that she was looking for a learning boy. She had forgotten about him until now, but she wondered: Maybe he would be a good date for Rachelli?

She made a mental note to ask Esty for more information about him. She didn't want to breathe a word about it to Rachelli unless she got a "yes" from him first; that was how the shidduch system was supposed to work.

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Post Re: Ongoing Story
on: April 23, 2013, 3:25 AM

Back at work Monday morning Dina watched as a seemingly harried Shira bustled into the office an hour and a quarter late, and she let it slide. Shira did good work when she gave it the attention it needed, which admittedly had become less and less since they had started working together. Yet Dina could no longer look the other when she noticed that Shira was on her personal cell too often, letting all her business calls ring through to let 20 year old single Yael pick up the slack. But things came to a head when Dina noticed a big clerical error in Shira's paperwork that could have cost them a lot of money had Dina not reviewed it. At that point Dina knew that she needed to confront her.

"Hey Shira," Dina called across their work space. "You gotta minute? Can you come into my office?"

Shira didn't look like she had even a single second to spare, but Dina was the boss. Nervously, Shira put down her cell, which she apparently had been using to text instead of work, and shuffled to Dina's office.

"Here, have a seat." Dina offered. "I'll cut right to the chase, so we don't waste too much time since you seem to be very busy. But not with business, which is why we're here." Dina's brisk tone took on a softer note as she added, "Is everything okay with your son?"

Shira avoided Dina's eyes as she mumbled. "Uh, well, it's really just difficult dealing with all this alone. He's barely recovered from strep and now it's croup; I just don't know what to do. I have a babysitter watching him at home, but it's all so stressful." Shira refused to meet Dina's concerned gaze as she finished in a whisper, "And this is the least of it."

Dina nodded understandingly. She didn't want to pry, but she felt that she needed to get to the bottom of what was making Shira so miserable. It seemed that Shira was feeling sufficiently worn down, or maybe she just needed a listening ear, but whatever it was, she was being more forthcoming than usual.

"Shira," she began cautiously. "Alone?"

"Yeah," Shira sighed. "We moved here a few months ago for parnassah reasons, among others, and it's so difficult to be this far from my parents. I used to be able to just drop my son off if I wanted to go run errands, or even to just get a coffee with a friend. My mother was always willing to watch him. She's amazing. She also took him to doctor's appointments, boy does he have a lot of those..." she trailed off.

Shira subconsciously rubbed her neck. "It's just that he's the type of kid who always gets sick, and I just don't have the energy or the knowledge to stay on top of all of it. I find myself on the phone with my mother all day, as if she's his primary caregiver."

Dina watched as Shira fidgeted with her fingers, wondering if this issue with her son was the whole story. "So, when he gets better, things will be easier?"

Shira looked up as if startled. "Uh, mostly I guess," she mumbled.

"So do you want to take some unpaid time off to get on top of your game? Your job is safe." Dina reassured her.

Shira looked past Dina wistfully. "I wish I could," she murmured. Out loud she said, "I can't. We need the money. Things are tight," she blushed crimson. "I just, well..." she hemmed. "I mind as well just say it, I've spilled most of what's going on anyway." She looked up at Dina briefly pleadingly. "You won't tell anyone, right?"

"Of course not. You have my word."

Shira let out a pent up sigh. "Thank you," she whispered. "I'm just dealing with so much and I don't have anyone to talk to. I don't want to complain to my husband about it, because he already feels guilty, as if he should leave learning and go to work, so the burden doesn't fall on me."

Dina held Shira's gaze sympathetically, silently urging her to continue.

"You see, up until almost a year ago, my father paid for everything. But recently he lost a lot of money and he's not able to fully support anymore. He still sends money, and my husband's parents try to help out in whatever way they can, but it's not enough. That's why we're here. We moved here because the cost of living is cheaper, there's still a great kollel for my husband to learn in, and I got a great job."

She smiled gratefully at Dina. Then her face crumpled. "But I'm having such a hard time managing!"

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Post Re: Ongoing Story
on: April 23, 2013, 7:24 PM

Dina looked at Shira as she began to cry quietly. against her will, a thought crossed her mind 'i should be so lucky to have those problems' but as soon as it came she shoved it away with a toss of her head. Am i crazy for wishing such a thing on myself? she thought.
She took a breath.
'Shira, i have to tell you that i can only imagine how stressful this must be for you. I mean, I moved away from my family also to come here and start this branch of our office and while i don't need my mother to look after any of my kids (yet, she added silently) I do miss coming home to the security of my family so I feel for you. I also know that you are a very good worker and you get the job done. However, as I was reviewing this document you took care of I came across an error that could have caused a significant loss to the company. so... I understand that your priority is your son and additionally you're currently your family's main source of income but we need to try and figure out a solution that will work for both of us. I just need to double check with Mr. Greenberg to verify but i think i can give you a 3 day 'vacation' to take care of your son. I cant pay you for 3 full days but I'll give you 1/2 of three days pay. Do you think you can get your son to the doctors he needs with that?'
Shira blew her nose and managed a shaky smile 'that would be amazing Dina! Thanks a million. I guess we'll have to be careful for the next few days but that is really sweet of you. I'll be back at work bright and early on Friday morning and hopefully my son will be feeling better'.
'My pleasure- Ill call Mr. Greenberg now and call your extension when i have his response'.
Shira went back to her work and Dina called Mr. Greenberg.He told her it was ok to give Shira the days off as long as it did not become a common occurrence. Dina assured him that it would not.
After conveying the message to a grateful Shira, Dina picked up the phone and dialed Mrs. Schwartz.

"Hello?, yes this is Mrs. Schwartz.... Hi Dina! how are you? you changed your mind about that boy I told you about at the vort?....oh, for a friend... ok, I hear. But Dina before you pass up this opportunity so quickly let me just tell you a little bit more about him.
His name is Donny Finer and he's 26 years old. He learned in eretz yisroel for 3 years and when he came back he learned in Monsey for 2 years. He got his degree as a lawyer just recently but it took him many years because he only studied for it during bein hazmanim. i spoke to him before the vort at another family simcha and he explained to me that at 23 even 24, he would have loved to continue learning but he didnt think it was responsible for a boy of his age to have no 'plan' but he still learns a full seder every day EVEN along with all his work, he is very serious about his love for learning. additionally Dina, he's a doll of a guy, he's the one who goes out of his way to help someone when everyone else says 'someone else will do it'. he is very close with his rabbeim and parents aaand he happens to have a wonderful sense of humor. so i know you called me about him for a friend... but maybe you think about it for another day or so and call me back. ok?"
Dina nodded numbly, forgetting Mrs. Schwartz couldn't see her.
"Dina? you there?"
"Yes, yes i'm sorry- i will think about it Mrs. Schwartz thanks, ill call you back in a few days".

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Post Re: Ongoing Story
on: April 23, 2013, 8:45 PM

Dina walked into her apartment, slumped down on the couch and let out a long, deep sigh. Rachelli was sitting at the other end, wearing her glasses for a change, with her ipad on her lap.
“ Hello to you too,’’ Rachelli said mockingly. “Tough day?”
“Not really,” Dina replied. “Just a lot of stuff going on… Y’know, like little annoying things.”
“Ok.” Rachelli went back to what she was doing.
“Wait,” Dina said skeptically. “Aren’t you ganna ask what’s going on?”
“ I don’t have to,” Rachelli answered, a smirk playing on the corners of her mouth. “ You’re ganna tell me either way.”
“Haha, very funny,” Dina said impassively. She then went on for the next 20 minutes and spilled all her frustrations of the day to Rachelli.
“ ….So now I’m confused, I mean, I always wanted a learning guy and I KNOW it’s something I want… I just feel it’s a nice way to start off a marriage and begin building a home, but now, I don’t know, I mean maybe this IS something I should compromise on… At this point, the guys im dating are not young and most of them are on the verge of going to work anyways. It makes sense that a guy of 26 would want to be self sufficient…I can’t really blame them….But I always wanted a learning boy!” Dina finished, frustrated.
Now it was Rachelli’s turn to speak. “So let me get this straight, he’s a really good guy from a good family and he already did a nice amount of learning. Now, at 26, he went to work. What’s the problem, Dina? You know I’m not saying that this is always the case but there are plenty of guys who learn well when their in Yeshiva, but the second they go out to work, you could hardly get them to open a sefer! Wouldn’t you feel reassured if the guy is already working, AND he still had a set chavrusa! It clearly shows that he’s stable and he takes his learning seriously, and chances are if he is now, then he’ll stay that way…I mean it’s not like he’s 20 and ran from Yeshiva at the first available opportunity. He already did five years of learning! Just instead of doing it married and being supported by his father in law, he did it single and now he’s moving on.’’
“Yeh, I guess I never thought about it that way,” Dina contemplated. “So now what? I just give up on the main thing that I always wanted?”
“Is the learning the main thing that you want, or do you want a boy who is a ben torah and has yiras shamayim and is going to be a good father? The two are not necessarily related!” Rachelli said forcefully.
“I know I Know,” Dina rubbed her eyes wearily. This is not where she had intended this conversation to go. “It’s just…I don’t know…I feel like any descent boy today is ganna be learning….”
“Look, I’m not telling you to give up the idea completely, but if something comes up with a working guy, and everything else sounds right, it can’t hurt to give it a shot.’’

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Post Re: Ongoing Story
on: April 23, 2013, 10:50 PM

The clock read 3:27.
It was now 4 hours since Dina had gotten into bed. She had been twisting and turning all night and she simply could not fall asleep. She tried removing her blanket for a bit, and then pulled it back over herself. She fluffed her pillows and then flattened them. She turned onto her back and 7 minutes later she was on her stomach. Finally, not being able to take this restlessness a minute longer, Dina got up to get a drink. She carefully poured herself a glass of water,gulped it down, and then tiptoed back to her room.
As she was passing the living room, her heart stopped. She thought she saw someone moving on the porch, about 20 feet away from her. The porch door was ajar and a chilling breeze drifted past her. Dina froze in her place and held her breathe. Her mind raced as she debated her next move. She turned around about to make a dash for Rachelli’s room.
“Hey, Dina.” Shifra’s voice was perfectly calm, as if wandering around a dark apartment at 3:30 A.M. was the most normal thing in the world.
“oh-migosh shifra -you scared - me,” Dina gasped, clutching her chest. Her heart was beating furiously. “I saw a movement on the porch. I thought for sure it was a robber….I was just about to go wake up Rachelli. Are you always up at this hour?” She was whispering loudly.
Shifra laughed. “Yup, I’m a vampire.” She raised her eyebrows. “What are you doing up? Can’t sleep?”
They both headed into the kitchen.
“Ya, sorta… just a lot on my mind,” Dina said, and then she thought of something. “Doesn’t it get depressing…you know….working all night and sleeping all day?”
“Sometimes," Shifra began. "I mean I know it’s only temporary, just till I have more experience and prove myself...and the shifts are very unpredictable, depending on how busy the floor is. Once in a while I'll switch with another nurse and do the day shift. Tonight I got off early! Usually I don't get home till 7 in the morning....Listen, I work in one of the most famous Children’s hospitals in America, i can't expect to get the best shifts right away but hopefully soon I'll be able to work it out.
“That’s tough,” Dina said. And she meant it. “So you work with sick kids all day?”
“No, actually I work in the NICCU, the unit for newborns and infants who are in critical condition. It’s pretty draining, emotionally and physically.”
They were both quiet for a minute and then Shifra continued. “You know, while I was in college and all my friends and classmates were getting engaged and getting married, I was so jealous of them and I was always thinking how life is so not fair and being single is so hard - and I still feel that way sometimes…but then I watch the doctors break the news to the parents of these babies…y’know telling them that there’s nothing more they can do and their child’s life is hanging by a thread…and I see the Mother’s faces turn white -some of them can’t even cry… and then I think to myself…is being single really so bad? I mean obviously, I want to get married, but maybe being single is not the worst thing in the world. I know I’ll find him eventually…it’s just a matter of when….and maybe instead of stressing about it all the time, I should focus on the positive in my life and try to enjoy my single years. You know what I’m saying…?”
Dina took a deep breath before she answered. “Yeah, I hear you, but it’s like that with everything….every stage of life has its challenges and each one is hard in its own way…and everyone has a right to feel bad sometimes. Maybe being single is not the worst thing in the world but it’s hard. It’s more like “the fear of the unknown.” And also, the worst part for me, is all the pitying stares, people making you feel like you’re headed off a cliff if you don’t get married already…and then there’s the whole friends thing and feeling so alone…and working so hard to believe that it’s really all from Hashem even though sometimes it seems like it’s not….I don’t know….It’s pretty hard.” Dina looked at Shifra and shrugged.
“Hey,” Shifra suddenly perked up. “Why don’t you come by the hospital sometime? There are tons of frum kids there from all over the country. They love to get visitors. A lot of times Chai Lifeline volunteers are there and the kids get so excited. Some of these kids stayfor weeks at a time and their family can’t always be with them.”
The idea wasn’t so appealing to Dina. She was hesitant. “I don’t know, I’m not so into these things, I get nervous around sick people, especially kids. I never know what to say.”
“Nah,” Shifra said waving her hand. “Just be normal. I think you would be really good with them actually. It’s just a suggestion….anyways, the sun is rising and the vampire must sleep.” She stood up, did some sort of bow and made her way to her room.
“Good night,” Dina called after her. “Aactually, good morning.” They both laughed.

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Post Re: Ongoing Story
on: April 24, 2013, 8:08 PM

Dina went back to her bed and once more, pulled the blanket up to her chin. maybe this time....Next thing Dina knew her alarm clock was beeping 7:45- she had pressed snooze 2 times already without having any recollection of doing so. She leaped out of bed and ran to her closet, pulled out her clothes and dashed to the bathroom to get dressed. at exactly 8:01 she walked out of the bathroom dressed, hair done (well brushed normally at least) and make up finished. Quickly she went to the kitchen to grab a drink and something to eat before she left. Rachelli's comments during their conversation last night kept up a constant stream in her mind until she pulled into her parking spot outside the office. Her mind on a completely different planet she almost bumped into a lady as she hurried towards the building.
'Rachelli's points were very valid after all...I think I'll call mommy to let her know I'm going to call Mrs Schwartz back and tell her I'm interested- at least interested in hearing more about him'.

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Post Re: Ongoing Story
on: April 25, 2013, 12:24 PM

It was late Sunday morning and the mall was already bustling with throngs of determined shoppers. Dina, Rachelli and shifra navigated their way through the crowds, weighed down by their bags of purchases.

“Hey, I need a new lipstick,” Rachelli said stopping abruptly in front of the cosmetics store. “Can we stop here for a minute?”
The girls simultaneously turned and headed towards the display counter. They spent the next half hour leisurely sampling different products and giggling, while they appraised each other’s picks.
Dina stood in front of the mirror and inspected the sparkly bronze eye shadow she had decided to try. The effect was charming. This will be perfect for my date tonight, Dina thought as she took a sealed package off the shelf. She was excited for her date with Donny Finer. She vaguely remembered her last date with the Vinar guy, and how off target it had been. She hoped this one would end better. It all happened so quickly…. She had called her mother Tuesday morning and informed her of her conversation with Mrs. Schwartz. Dina was taken aback when she learned that her mother had been in touch with Mrs. Schwartz since their initial phone conversation, less than 24 hours before. They had already gotten a ‘yes’ from the Finer’s, who had had their eye on Dina for some time already. Dina’s mother had been looking into the boy as well. At first Dina was annoyed that her mother had, yet again, gone behind her back in regards to a shidduch. Why couldn’t they just discuss it like mature adults? But deep down, Dina knew that had it come from her mother, she might have been more resistant. Like this, she had come to the resolution on her own. They were going to be meeting up halfway, at a lounge off Route 87 at 8 o’clock. Dina was relieved that they would be skipping the whole ‘meeting the parent’s’ situation. She hated that.

“Wow Dina, that color is incredible on you,” Shifra gushed. “You should totally get it.”
They took a place at the end of the line and waited.
“You nervous about tonight?” Rachelli asked, noticing the pensive look on Dina’s face.
“Not really nervous,” Dina responded, snapping out of her reverie. “Just a little confused, like I hope I’m not leading him on or anything. I’m really not sure if it’s for me.”
“Well you won’t know till you try,” Rachelli said purposefully. Then she added, “Dina and Donny, that’s actually pretty cute." Dina rolled her eyes but she was smiling.
A minute later, they walked up to the cashier, paid for their selections and then left the store, eagerly debating which one to hit next.

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Post Re: Ongoing Story
on: April 25, 2013, 1:31 PM

Surrounded by the spoils of the day, Dina scrutinized herself in the full-length mirror conveniently mounted on the inside of her closet door. Her wardrobe had desperately needed to be revived, and she was nearly head-to-toe in new purchases. The eyeshadow did make her eyes pop; the girls were right.

The beige pencil skirt, the black sweater with a playful bow at the neck, and the pair of surprisingly comfortable black patent-leather pumps were ideal for a first date. She clicked in her favorite pair of earrings, the yellow gold casting a flattering glow on her skin.

She emerged a trifle nervously from her room. "All right?" she asked hesitantly. Rachelli jumped up from the couch, crooning in admiration as she turned her about. "Stunning!" Shifra flashed a thumbs-up. Boosted by their approval, Dina picked up her clutch (also newly acquired) and chucked in her phone, along with her wallet. "I guess I'll head out now," she said, glancing at the clock. "I can't stand to wait around."

"Have a good time, mammelah," Rachelli said, swooping in for an air-kiss, avoiding Dina's makeup. "Ooh, wait a sec," she disappeared into her bedroom, then emerged with a bottle of perfume. "Just a light shpritz . . ." She sprayed into the air, and Dina dutifully walked through the scented mist.

"Now you can go!"

Feeling confident of her finished product, Dina minced down the steps. Once in the car, she happily kicked off her heels and comfortably nudged the gas with her stockinged foot.

She spent the drive blasting music in an attempt to belay over-thinking. She was, of course, early, and took her leisurely time in the bathroom tweaking whatever could have become mussed during the trip. A strand of hair behind the ear . . . smoothing an imaginary wrinkle in the skirt . . . another swipe of lipstick . . .

When she slowly sashayed out of the bathroom, she saw Donny hurriedly coming through the entrance-way. She took a deep breath, forcing herself to calm down, and approached him with what she hoped was a sunny smile.

His face brightened upon seeing her. She liked his looks; his retro glasses gave him a bookish air.

"Can I buy you a coke?" he asked chivalrously, casting his arm towards two overstuffed armchairs. They traded the initial pleasantries, "How was your trip?" "Had a good day?" Then moved on to more deep conversation.

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