I exited the synagogue and strolled out to the street with my parents. My dad moved his scooter at a pleasant pace and my mom and I walked side by side a few steps behind. This was the high holiday routine in my family. Only for a few years, the years my dad was too sick to walk and too stubborn to buy a scooter, did we drive to shul and shuffle through the parking lot in search of a vacant spot. I prefer the walk over the drive. Even in the rain. It pairs better with praying.
“I’m going to head home and change,” I said as we made our way up the driveway.
“Ooh. Wait. Can you linger and help me just a little bit? And Paige Jennifer. No Jeans. Okay?”
“Yes I can linger and name one holiday where I showed up in denim.”
“Go get the prayer book from your father,” my mother instructed, ever so gracefully sidestepping my inquiry altogether.
I kicked off my cute heels and slipped into grosgrain flip flops from Target. They’re the just-in-case pair I keep in my car. You know what I mean. Just in case I want to get a last minute pedicure. Or I want to throw on something comfy. I also keep a just-in-case fleece in my trunk. It’s the wintertime equivalent of flip flops.
My mom had agreed to host twenty people later that evening to celebrate the Jewish New Year. There were apples to cut, honey to pour into presentable jars, potatoes to cook, brisket to heat up and cheesecake to decorate with strawberries.
“Shit. The berries are rotten.”
“How’d that happen?” I asked for no reason in particular. It isn’t any wonder the answer I got was a furled brow.
“Never mind the ‘how’ because that won’t help me hide the gaping crack running down the middle of my cheesecake. Can you run over to Wholefoods and fetch me more berries?”
I headed out and returned thirty minutes later with a collection of strawberries that altogether cost more than my monthly condo fee. The smell of brisket and roasted potatoes greeted me as I came through the front door. I put the berries in the fridge and as I moved things around to make room, I came across a bottle of chilled champagne. My champagne. My favorite champagne that I’ve only founnd stateside at Moore Brothers.
My mother shrugged her shoulders when I asked how it ended up in her fridge. I then went outside and popped the cork. It took a good ten minutes and the assistance of my dad's rusty pliers but I eventually shimmied it loose. I went back inside, grabbed two juice glasses, the kind that look like something you’d find at a soda fountain, and poured one for me and one for my mother.
“This is really good,” my mom excitedly said as she alternated sips with slicing stems off the strawberries.
“I know,” I replied while taking a seat on the second step of the back stairway leading up to what was once my childhood bedroom.
“PJ, go home and change. People will be here in half an hour. You have enough time.”
“Nah. It's sorta nice being here. I’ll just go as is. Are you changing?” I asked while staring at my mother in a sweat suit, the kind that was more loungewear and less sweat-wear.
“I don’t have the energy. I called everyone and told them to wear whatever. So seriously, go home.”
“It’s okay. No point of putting on clean clothes for just a few hours. Unless you want me to leave?”
“Goodness no. I like having you home. Wish you came over more often, actually,” my mom confessed as she buried her head in the fridge in search of the currant jelly.
I pushed myself off the step and strolled over to the refrigerator.
“It’s nice being here,” I said. “Now move out of the way. I saw the currant jelly when I shoved the berries in. Oh, and pour me some more champagne.”