It is Hanukkah and the kosher grocery store is out of candles. As he rang up my bagels and chocolate coins, the clerk who looks like Ben Stiller suggested I try the bookshop at the orthodox synagogue.
Later, I emailed the synagogue and promptly received a reply in all caps from Nadine, Shop Manager. YES WE DO. CLOSE AT 3PM.
I scarfed down the rest of my salami and cheese sandwich, wiped the non-kosher evidence from my chin, and jumped in the car.
The synagogue is in a suburb of Perth called Menora. I find this funny.
On the drive, I am listening to Kaskade and thinking of a recent night with friends at the Heath Ledger Memorial Theatre. We saw Let The Right One In, a Swedish story about a child vampire. Our British friend with the bum knee and the color blindness told us his first job was harvesting tomatoes, which, “didn’t work out so well with the color blindness and all.”
He has promised to visit us in San Francisco someday with his wife, a librarian who is unafraid to challenge on-the-fence words in Scrabble. It’s the principle of the thing, she says. You can’t let those go by.
When will you visit, I ask them. Don’t worry, they say. We’ve always wanted to go to Yosemite.
Last week, I bought a small jar of Nutella. My daughters have been using it sparingly and precisely, in the way you hold onto something only when you see the end. But yesterday, after careful consideration, one of them stuck her finger deep in the jar. It’s good this way too, she said.
I arrive at the synagogue bookshop and purchase three boxes of candles. Tonight we will surprise our older daughter with earrings. She has been asking to get her ears pierced but believes her parents will not buy her things like phones and dogs and holes in her ears. She will receive a small present that she will unwind, unwrap and turn over to discover a pair of tiny gold kangaroos. I am nervous to drive to a mall with crop tops and pink neon lights and offer my firstborn to a woman with tattooed eyebrows. I will do this, partially because my own parents protested piercings which ultimately led to the day I turned eighteen and my brother said for the love of god, do what you want, and marched me down to a store on Haight Street that smelled like weed and had silver rings in glass cases. I stared at the ring with the purple stone and my brother squeezed my hand as the earlobe gun went off. This is a good memory but my daughter doesn’t have an older brother.