Note: names have been changed to protect the identity of those involved.
Yeah so I’m still holding this grudge for something stupid that happened like, eleven years ago. But it’s really the audacity of Jill that I’m angry at, and how it basically ruined our friendship.
So: I had recently just moved to Israel and it’s 2011. Smartphones were starting to be a thing. Global warming was still a thing (but I did meet quite a few people that year in graduate school who denied this). Other stuff was happening. Who really remembers 2011? Did we really accomplish anything?
A quick Google search has revealed that the US killed Osama bin Laden. That’s nice. Oh, wow, that’s when that awful earthquake in New Zealand and that there was an earthquake and a tsunami in Japan soon after.
Wow, 2011. I guess compared to 2020 it’s pretty tame.
Anyway, that’s not what I remember about 2011. I remember Jill being a total bitch.
The first year living in Israel as a citizen (Aliyah) is challenging. Perhaps I’ll write about it one day. But one big thing is you don’t really have a home. Or stuff. So, I had moved into my friend’s family’s apartment and luckily she had stuff. Kitchen stuff. Furniture. A fridge. You know, stuff that doesn’t come with empty apartments here.
One of those things happened to be portable plastic containers.
In the US, you have Tupperware. But when you move to a new country, you don’t know which storage containers are sturdy. And reliable. There are so many new brands and words and products to get used to.
So I wanted to spend the weekend with some old roommates. I had lived with Jill and Stephanie in 11th grade, where we briefly suffered at this couple’s house who took in boarders for our high school. The couple were super self-absorbed and annoying. The wife even yelled at me once because she had found a hair on the table. And it was apparently my hair.
These previous roommates were now dorming in Israel and I planned a get together for a weekend sleepover. Sounds fun, right?
I didn’t feel comfortable inviting them to sleep over at my friend’s parent’s apartment, so we were going to sleep at Jill’s dormitory, where she was studying for the year. The other girls had that weekend off so no one else would be there.
So, we were all in charge of the food. I said I would make dinner, being the oldest and more mature one. However, I had not made dinner for three girls before, let alone made meals that would last for two days. And cereal wasn’t going to cut it. This was Shabbat, where the food had to be nice and well cooked and delicious and whatever. I planned a menu. However, because we were all going to Jill’s dorm, I didn’t want to bring all of the ingredients and clothes for Shabbat and cooking utensils with me. So, I figured we could buy stuff where she lived (Jerusalem) and bring it back to her dorm and cook.
Some ingredients, however, I figured I could bring. But in case they spilled, I would need a reliable air-tight container. I asked my friend if I could borrow an unassuming container and I remember that I put pineapple rings in it. I can’t imagine why I would have needed to bring pineapple all the way from my own city. There was pineapple readily available in Jerusalem.
“Don’t lose it, okay?” my friend said, as she was lending me the container. “It’s really strong, and I bought it in America.”
Oh, this container was American? It was the real deal.
“Thanks,” I said, and went off for the weekend.
Our reunion was brief and then we had to tackle the shuk: the outdoor market on Fridays, thronging with people and full of fresh fruits, vegetables, fish, meats and all kinds of treats just waiting to be bought. The sound was deafening: people talking with their friends, vendors yelling out their wares (fish! fish for 40 shekel! challah! fresh challah!) and the honking of cars that wound their way around the market.
Me, being socially awkward, hated going to the shuk, especially Fridays, when it was the busiest. I also was carrying a bag of my clothes and food that I had brought from “home”, and it was difficult to navigate the crowd, toting my giant, heavy bag on my shoulder.
Jill and Stephanie, instead of buying ingredients for the things I wanted to make, bought random things that 18-year-olds want, like Yemenite meat pies and lots and lots of desserts.
“Jill,” I asked, “Do you have eggs? I need one egg for the matza balls for the soup.”
“No.” Jill said.
I looked at the egg-seller. The smallest package you can buy is 18 eggs.
“Do you have friends that can maybe lend you an egg?”
So I bought 18 eggs.
Then we go all the way to Jill’s dorm, a 45-minute bus drive through Jerusalem. I got off the bus, feeling quite nauseous, and also nervous: we only had 2 hours to make all the food before Shabbat started. (All food for Shabbat needs to be pre-cooked).
We get to work.
Well, I should say, I get to work. The first thing I do is start the soup. Soup is super easy because you just dump a lot of things in a pot and pour water on it and it comes out delicious. I then start making the matza balls.
There are at least eight egg containers on top of the giant fridge in the dorm. One container says “Jill” on it.
“Is there another Jill?” I asked Jill, pointing at the egg container.
“Oh, no, that’s mine,” Jill said. “I guess I did have eggs after all.”
Are you freaking kidding me?
Luckily, I finish cooking dinner just in time. Shabbat starts and we have a lovely time. Shabbat day, I wake up to go to synagogue, and put the food on a hot plate to heat up. However, Jill and Stephanie are still sleeping. I come back from synagogue and realize that the only food to eat for lunch that doesn’t contain red meat is potatoes. So, I eat potatoes for lunch. Jill and Stephanie are still sleeping.
This Shabbat wasn’t turning out the way I’d wanted it to. I had a stressful day on Friday, and although dinner was nice, I was still hoarding some resentment for the egg thing, honestly, which I should have brought up, but I didn’t want to start a fight or anything.
Shabbat goes by quickly, with Jill and Stephanie waking up late, eating their food, and I don’t remember what we spend the day doing but I’m assuming I just sat and read a book, which is something I truly enjoy doing, but also wasn’t expecting to read so much, thinking we would spend hours catching up and talking.
Anyway, Shabbat ends. I pack up my stuff. I have a birthday party to get to, so I ask Jill for bus stop directions.
“Just take the one that’s across the street,” she said vaguely.
“Can you walk me to the bus stop?” I pleaded. I am notoriously bad at directions.
No,” Jill said.
So, I went by myself. I waited and waited and waited and waited and all the while, busses on the other side of the street keep passing, but none at my bus stop.
Finally, an hour later, a bus comes. I get on. It is going the wrong way.
I wish I had asked anyone else for directions.
I am on a bus and have no idea where I am. I am tired, hungry, and getting more and more angry at Jill.
The bus’s last stop is in a dark parking lot. There is no one around. I find the correct place in the parking lot to wait for the bus, but I have an eerie feeling like someone is watching me.
There was. An older man, wearing dark clothes and a hat, was watching me from across the parking lot. Slowly, he started approaching me.
The bus wasn’t coming for another 15 minutes. I was terrified. What if he attacked me? What if he followed me?
The next 15 minutes crawled by. Every time I looked back, he was staring straight at me. He had advanced a few steps, then stopped. I was nervous, sweaty, and all alone.
Of course, when the bus came, he got onto it.
My friend, whose birthday it was, called me.
“Hey, do you think you’re gonna make it?” she asked cheerfully. I could hear sounds of people having fun and loud, booming music in the background.
I am so close to tears. “I — I -… I’m not sure,” I stammer. “I got on the wrong bus. I got lost…”
“Oh, okay great,” my friend said, clearly not listening. “Well, let me know when you’ll get here!”
The creepy guy wasn’t sitting right next to me, but he was sitting too close for comfort. I made sure to sit near the driver. The bus takes an hour to get back into downtown Jerusalem. Luckily, every stop it makes, more and more people get on. Soon the creepy guy got lost in the shuffle. My nerves calmed. I checked for him when I got off the bus, but I didn’t see him.
I decided to skip the birthday party (me being an hour and a half late) and go straight home. I take another hour and a half bus ride, grateful to be in a safe, comfortable place.
When I get back, I notice: I had forgotten the pineapple container.
I texted Jill right away, asking if she knew where the pineapple container was.
“No,” she said.
This weekend taught me a lot of things. Although I had admiration and love for my former roommates, they clearly did not feel the same way about me, and were less than thrilled to spend a Shabbat with me. They didn’t consider my feelings, nor did they make anything easy for me at all. I felt more like a mom, nagging them, than an old friend.
I never got the pineapple container back. I had lost touch with Jill, and her refusal to call me back or look for the container was a clear sign that she didn’t care much about me or returning things to friends. I learned to value real, genuine friendships. For example, I am still friends with the person with whom I lived with during those first few months of Aliyah. I brought up the container incident to her recently, and she said, “Wow, I don’t even remember that. Sorry I made you feel bad about losing that container.”
These are the friends to keep. The ones that, container or no, will still call you back.