She looked so summery, that I had to talk to her. I was on a bus changing terminals in the interminably slow London Heathrow airport and she was standing next to me texting furiously. Her name was Esther and she had just arrived from Israel en route to Miami.
She was 28, with windswept light brown hair that was blond at the tips. Her shirt was blue denim, tied at the midriff, her skin brown, her teeth white and her cut-off jeans were so full of holes they barely covered her. She was so youthful and full of life that I felt particularly old. My Hebrew is rusty but hers was quite good and thankfully, we soon changed to English. She was returning home after 10 days in Israel where her Israeli husband of two years had just informed her that now that he had just received his green card, he no longer wanted to be with her. But I am getting ahead of myself.
She looked like she had just stepped off the beach ---which was in fact the case. Raised Jewish in Puerto Rico, her mother, a practicing Christian, was apparently descended from Jews and felt it important that her daughter be raised Jewish. She now lived in Miami and was seriously considering becoming an Orthodox Jew. This was startling because judging by the way she looked, she had a long journey ahead. Knowing she was an eater of kosher food, I teased her about the seafood bar in terminal three. When we finally exited the bus, the crush separated us. I checked in, left my bag and decided to try out the seafood bar. Serendipitously, as I entered, she was passing by and I asked her to join me. She looked at the menu of crustaceans and to my surprise she agreed. Ironically, I told her eating with me was, “Beshert” (Hebrew for ‘ordained by god’) and over the second glass of wine and definitely un-kosher seafood salad, she told me her story.
Three years ago, she had met this Israeli man and fell in love. He was handsome and romantic. His wooing was skillful and his adoration hypnotic. They married and had a dreamlike honeymoon in the Maldives. They stayed in an ocean villa with a private infinity pool. Sex was astonishing and she felt she had met the man of her dreams, a man to have children with. He was in sales and made lots of money; she was studying nursing and working at a local hospital. They had visited Israel a few times and each visit drew her nearer to Judaism. This visit was to help her decide if it really was for her.
Then the bombshell hit. He told her that he didn’t want to stay married and that as he was cutting his trip short, she should just stay in Israel, become a citizen and convert to orthodox Judaism. This stunned her because she suddenly realized that he had never loved her but just used her for the green card. While we were talking, he was texting her and to mitigate the hurt he suggested that they go to Vegas at the weekend where he would buy her a Louis Vuitton bag. Her anger towards him was mounting. It seemed to override her emotional hurt but then she started to cry.
“Why did he do this to me? I love him so much and I thought he loved me,” she sobbed.
When the crying stopped, I suggested that she dump him immediately and get a divorce, which apparently takes 31 days in Miami where she lives. I then recommended that after the divorce she call ICE (Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement) just to mess with him. Her laughter brightened up her face and her white teeth gleamed through her smile.
She stood up, kissed me on the cheek, and disappeared into the crowd.