Flipside: Pushing the envelope to resolution

Champagne always gives Nurit a hangover. Somehow, though, she never remembers this until it's too late.

flipside resolution 88 (photo credit: )
flipside resolution 88
(photo credit: )
Nurit lifts her head slowly off the pillow and groans. Champagne always gives her a hangover. Somehow, though, she never remembers this until it's too late. Maybe that's because she drinks it so infrequently. On New Year's Eve, for example. A "holiday" she only began celebrating in her adult life - and even then only perfunctorily, due to the fact that while Israeli bars and restaurants have caught on to the secular date's financial opportunities, her own source of income continues to require that she be at the office bright and early on January 1. Which kind of puts a damper on late-night activities. Too bad alcohol intake was not among those from which she abstained. She contemplates getting out of bed and making her way to the bathroom, where she keeps the Advil. But to no avail. Though her intentions are honorable, so to speak, the rest of her is being stubbornly uncooperative. Normally, dizziness and nausea would be accompanied by misery. The self-pity kind. The kind that makes the rings of smudged mascara under her puffy eyes an outward manifestation of all that is wrong with - and in - her life. Not this morning, however. Lowering herself back down into a reclining position - grabbing her temples while she slides - she actually smiles. A mere month ago, the prospect of this day had loomed large and ugly to Nurit. She had felt cheated. Mocked by its approach. All had turned upside-down. Nothing was as it was supposed to have been at this juncture. Certainly not anything like the hopes, dreams and fantasies spelled out in last year's letter. The letter she wrote - to herself, or to God - in which she let loose with an unfettered and rosy vision of her future. And of her future with Ari. The New-Year's- resolution letter she and Ari had agreed to write simultaneously, yet separately, as they ushered in 2007. The letter. Nurit sighs contentedly, rolling onto her side, to keep the room from spinning. His letter. She slips her hand under the blankets, fingering folds of silk sheets indistinguishable from her satin nightgown, fishing for the cherished envelope. When she finally locates it, somewhere between her knees and the spot where Ari would be sleeping if she hadn't banished him from her bed last month, she caresses it briefly, then props it up on the nightstand. Satisfied, she now bends over and vomits uncontrollably onto the floor. ARI OPENS the bottle of aftershave Nurit gave him the day she returned from her trip abroad. He pours some into his palms, then pats his cheeks, appreciating the sting as much as the scent. His heart races slightly as he walks around his apartment, turning off lights and collecting the usual paraphernalia - jacket, wallet, keys and cell phone. It has been weeks since he has seen Nurit. Four, to be precise. That he is able to calculate this is as uncharacteristic as it is telling. Ari has never been one to remember dates. Certainly not those connected with relationships. That's a woman thing, as far as he is concerned. All that sentimentalism surrounding milestones and memories has always seemed to him to be a silly way of attaching significance to events. Or to intimacy. But then - as Nurit pointed out curtly when he phoned to ask her to spend New Year's Eve with him after all - you have to have intimacy before you start symbolizing or marking it. And Ari had made it crystal clear that awful day that this was precisely what he and she did not share. For some reason he still can't figure out, it hadn't occurred to him that admitting this to Nurit the moment she suggested they inaugurate and consummate the new year by unsealing their resolution letters over a romantic midnight meal would cause her to kick him out. What had he been thinking? But that's just it - he realized after she wouldn't take his calls - he hadn't been thinking straight. Or had he? Ari hurriedly shifts papers in his desk drawer to retrieve the envelope he had sealed a year ago today. As he rummages, he finds himself desperate to recall what it was that precipitated his unconscious - and what he now considers uncalled-for - act of passive aggression toward the woman whose absence has been the source of the dull pain he hasn't been able to shake since she left. The pain that led him to beg for forgiveness when a mutual friend informed him that Nurit was actually getting engaged to someone she had just met - diamond ring, house-hunting and all. Biological clock-ticking will do that to a girl, the friend reminded Ari, less than delicately. "You had your chance," the friend pointed out. You had your chance. Those were the very words Nurit had uttered when he came to his senses and requested they meet. On her terms, of course. And her terms were unequivocal: He could buy her a drink, grovel and go home alone. Well, those weren't her exact words. But it was the general gist. Or so Ari understood it to be. Which is why he considers it crucial to bring her the letter tonight. To show that he cared enough to hold onto it. To prove that he's worthy of a second chance. To create a wedge between Nurit and the man who will soon be her husband if Ari doesn't play his cards right. Finally locating the envelope - on which is written "2008" - first he feels safe and then scared. He hasn't seen it in a whole year, and can't remember its contents. Taking a peek isn't an option. He is sure that if he does, she will sense that he did, and the whole endeavor will backfire. FEELING MUCH better now that she has cleaned the floor, taken a shower and gotten dressed for work, Nurit puts the kettle on. Sitting down at the kitchen table, she opens Ari's envelope for the dozenth time since last night and rereads the last sentence: "I will have the courage to marry Nurit and start a family." ruthie@jpost.com