I finally had my ketubah framed. That’s the Jewish wedding contract.
It was the first time I have ever had something framed. It was a bigger deal than I thought it would be. In the frame shop, this little man with round glasses like Harry Potter kept tugging open another drawer full of colorful samples. Every manner of delicately, elegantly aged. It made me want to frame everything, until he told me the prices.
I read the ketubah, since it was lying there on the work table. I forget already what it says. Something about commitment and love, I’m sure.
My eyes went immediately to the signatures on the bottom, and I remembered signing my name, there in the basement of the place where only minutes later I would barely make it down the aisle without tripping over the front of my enormous dress. My name is unbalanced, hesitant. Not because I am hesitant about marriage, but because I have never learned how to properly sign. Bear’s is more graceful. And then the witnesses, his friend, who has since moved to the suburbs to live in a house so big that I can’t keep track of the number of bathrooms, and my closest friend at the time, a woman I met almost the first day I arrived in this city.
She was sitting across the conference table from me at our departmental orientation, wearing a big necklace that she toyed absently with. She was very thin and had read more than everyone else combined, and I was intimidated by her.
For some reason (it might have had something to do with the fact that we were the only women there), we became friends, and then good friends, and then we were together constantly. She would sleep at my apartment after we’d talked into the night. Do you know the kind of friend who there is always more to say to? It’s something about the way they listen. She would tilt her head thoughtfully. She was so smart that she could find meaning in anything. So little topics could be stretched to become big topics and big topics could lie lightly across the top of whole months, years, even.
Her signature at the bottom of my wedding contract is so fine and small that it is almost invisible. It sits directly beneath my unruly, clumsy one. We are bound together here, her and me and Bear and the friend in the suburbs.
In the framing shop, I tried to pull my eyes up from it, because she is gone.