By Micaela Blitz
When the phone rings in darkness, I wake with a start.
“Hello” I say sleepily.
“Come on, I’m outside. You coming down?”
“Uh, um, yeah. Give me five minutes. My alarm didn’t go off.”
I run around like a crazy thing getting ready in super quick time.
“Don’t say a word”, I say to Talya as I get in the cab. “I think the batteries on my alarm clock ran out.”
“Ha ha don’t worry, I won’t tell Jena,” she says and laughs.
When we arrive at the airport Jena is already there, of course. She subtly looks at her watch, but doesn’t say anything. We are about 15 minutes late, but the airport is pretty empty so we should be ok. We queue up behind the El Al desk waiting to be called over for endless questioning about, “Why we you going to Israel? Who do you know? Do you speak Hebrew?”
Once we finally get through the interrogation and the rest of the security checks, Talya insists we go to get a coffee. She is a bit of a caffeine fiend and to have been awake this long without a coffee inside her is pretty much unheard of. She makes up for it by ordering a double espresso to go. I am not a big coffee drinker myself so that much caffeine would probably kill me, but Talya has knocked back the espresso before the barista has even given her the cappuccino. Jena is much more of a health freak and just has a smoothie and a bottle of water. She is super picky about what she eats as she is usually on some sort of diet or other.
The flight goes quickly, probably because I sleep most of the way. I am one of those people who can fall asleep just about anywhere. I open my eyes as the sun streams in and we start to descend into Ben Gurion airport. Shoshi is waiting for us at the arrivals with a sign that says ‘Best Friends of the Bride’, which makes us laugh. We all hug, scream a little bit with excitement, then we hug again. Despite the fact that she has not slept in the past three days from a mixture of excitement and stress, Shoshi is glowing. I guess that is what love does to you.
As we come out of the airport the heat just hits us, but in a good way. It is nice to feel some sun on my face after the lukewarm weather we have had at home. We load up her hire car with all of our bags and suitcases and head to the hotel. As soon as we check in Shoshi gets a call and she rushes off again. She apologises and promises she will see us later for dinner.
We all meet up in the evening for Shoshi’s last meal as a single woman. She has had to drive all over Jerusalem collecting and dropping things off and is happy for a chance to just hang out with us and not worry too much about anything. After all, what’s done is done and as we assure her, everything will be perfect tomorrow!
At dinner we laugh about stories from when we were all much younger and the funny things we used to get up to at school. We reminisce throughout our dinner, only stopping to decide on what to eat and order some more drinks. Tears of laughter become tears of emotion as we think about how our lives are changing. Jena is married, Shoshi is next, so it only leaves me and Talya. The married and soon-to-be-married ones assure us that it will all be ok and that we will meet someone when the time is right for us to do so.
I know they are right, but I have heard it so many times before from my mother, my grandmother and other friends and family. I know that they are looking out for me, and that I am still young enough and shouldn’t rush into anything, blah, blah, blah, but it would be nice to know when things might happen. When we visited the Kotel earlier, I scribbled a little prayer onto a piece of paper and squeezed it into an available space in the already overstuffed wall feeling hopeful.
As dessert is served Jena suddenly says, “I know this is Shoshi’s special occasion, but I have something to tell you, and I can’t keep it in any more. I’m having a baby, isn’t that great?”
We all look at her and scream and cry and hug her. The people in the restaurant must think we are crazy, but we don’t care. It is such great news that we can’t help but celebrate.
The next day is the day of the wedding. 5pm the weather is a little cooler, well for Israel. As Shoshi walks down the aisle towards the chuppah, towards Rafi and the start of their life together, she looks beautiful, and radiant. Her mother and Rafi’s mother walk on each side of her and she almost looks like she is floating as she goes by. Talya grabs my hand and Jena puts her arm around me and gives me a hanky. We all have tears in our eyes, tears of happiness for our friend. I whisper to them both, “Thank goodness for waterproof mascara,” and we all laugh.
The wedding celebrations are amazing. So much dancing and jumping around. It was so much fun and so great to be with my best friends. As I stand by the bar getting a drink to cool down at the end of the night, Shoshi comes over to me. “I still can’t quite believe it Michelle, I am married, can you believe it? I just want you to know that I had a little word with Hashem about you whilst I was under the chuppah that you will meet someone soon who makes you as happy as I am”. “Thanks Shoshi,” I say, “I hope that He heard you”. Shoshi waves to a guy standing with Rafi that I don’t recognise. “That’s Rafi’s cousin, Simon. I think he is single, you know!” She suddenly disappears from my side and is over the other side of the room with Rafi and Simon before I can even say anything – she is super-fast even in a wedding dress and heels!
We are so tired the next morning that we sleep through breakfast and only wake up when Talya’s phone rings. It is probably something about work – the poor girl works way too hard. Suddenly Jena springs into action, grabbing her spreadsheet and sounding like the nursery teacher she is.
“Girls, hurry up, we have to get our stuff together, the taxi is going to be here in about half an hour to take us to the bus station”.
We run around trying to pack up our stuff super quick, making sure we don’t leave anything behind. Shoshi comes to say goodbye to us in reception and gives us all a big hug. “Thank you all so much for coming. I can’t believe that it is all over now”, she says looking a little disappointed. “Shoshi, this is only the beginning”, Jena says giving her a kiss goodbye.
As the bus pulls away from the station, my phone beeps. It is a text from Shoshi – ‘I didn’t want to say in front of everyone just now, but I spoke to Simon about you last night, and he would really like to meet up with you when you get back. Is it ok if I set you up? Happy travels, love Shoshi xxx,’ followed by her usual array of random emojis!!!