Please, God, Help Me Stop Missing Her | Big Indy News
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Please, God, Help Me Stop Missing Her



I was scrolling through psychotherapy memes on Instagram a few years ago when Hannah popped up in my friend requests. We each had new last names and new looks. I had decided that since I had to wear wigs anyway (as an ultra-Orthodox Jew), they may as well be blond instead of my natural dull brown. She wore a mixture of wigs and other creative head coverings.

We “hearted” each other’s posts, not daring to break our silence with actual words.

“She seems happy,” I told myself, my fingers hovering over her photos. “Don’t start anything.”

Still, I found myself imagining her as the girl I once knew in braces and a messy bun, without makeup or laugh lines, who slung her backpack down near me on the first day of 10th grade in Borough Park, Brooklyn. While our classmates penciled equations onto graph paper, she drew on her arm in neon gel pen: “Hannah.” I rolled up my identical navy checked sleeve and put ballpoint pen to my own pale skin: “Malka.”

She smirked. I wanted to know everything about her.

She was from another city, where there were no Orthodox Jewish high schools. “I don’t get this place,” she said.

“I will tell you everything you need to know,” I said.

She lifted a brow and laughed.

At night, in the emptiness of my house, I worried about her. My family had splintered, my mother living behind the closed door of her bedroom and my father practically sleeping at his warehouse. Hannah, though, was staying with a local Jewish family for the school year. She had no family in town at all. It felt natural for me to invite her to have some of my mother’s home-cooked dinner. It felt obvious that she should stay the night. At our sleepovers, despite the flashing alarms in my mind, my body felt right at home pressed against hers.

We moved around the shape of each other, careful under the fluorescent lights of our classroom. Still, the other girls noticed, whispering things about us looking like we could be sisters, trying to name something that none of us knew how to express. We were preparing to graduate in the new millennium, meet yeshiva boys, and then meet our true purpose through getting married and having children.

When the silence in my home started to feel stifling, I moved to Toronto and stayed with some cousins for the last two years of high school. I was relieved to be away from temptation.

I followed the precedent of our sages and fasted on weekdays until I could feel my hip bones poke through my uniform skirts. Even that reminded me of Hannah, though, of the long skirts we shared and how they fit our thin bodies in almost the exact same way. “Help me stop missing her,” I asked God until the ache in my soul took over and my better judgment faded. “Please forgive me,” I prayed, as I dialed her number, my Nokia cellphone to her boarding family’s landline.

After months of distance, we met up in Brooklyn at a concert. We watched Kineret, our community’s superstar, her long sparkled gown sashaying as she filled the room with song. I clenched my shoulder blades together. Tight. Tighter. Hannah was so close that I could feel the movements of her body in the air between us. But I could also hear the low hum as dozens of pious voices joined Kineret’s, singing about the world to come. Not exactly the appropriate soundtrack for acting on my unholy desires. When the music ended, we watched the crowd disperse onto the streets, a stream of girls and women in modest garb.

“Want to sleep over?” I asked, trying to take the urgency out of my words, trying not to hold my breath.

“Sure! Can we get pizza?” In the dim glow of the streetlights, I saw her grin.

We created our own concert later that night, a silent orchestra of skin on skin, her breath in my ear and the pounding of our hearts against each other in the dark. We held each other afterward. I felt her face against mine, her fingers trailing down my back.

I wanted to say: “I think about you every single day.”

Her breathing slowed, but I could feel her, still awake, playing silent notes along with me all through the night. As the sunlight bled through my window blinds, I tried not to notice the slope of her pale shoulder, the way her dark hair spread over my pillow.

“This is the last time,” I promised myself — and God — as I slid my leg out from between hers.

In the morning, we parted, she back to the boarding family and I back on a plane to my school in Toronto. I doubled down on my quest toward heaven, writing words to God in the margins of my prayer books.

I kept hearing through the grapevine that Hannah was barreling down the path to hell. Each time I came home to New York and saw her, it felt like there was a chasm between us, widening. When our eyes met, I looked away, at the new silver hoop in her nose, her bell-bottom striped pants. I knew I must have looked like a religious fanatic to her, in my tentlike black skirts and tight ponytail. I worried that it was my fault, that my sins sent her reeling away from the holy path.

We moved on, each of us marrying black-hatted men, I at 19 and she a couple of years later. I didn’t hear from her, and I didn’t reach out. The last thing I wanted was to be responsible for either of us sinning again. I dutifully gave birth to two children. I undutifully got a college degree and a divorce. I flirted with the idea of dating women, but then I was warned, by several religious mentors, that if I deviated from my faith, I may very well lose custody of my children.

Instead, I married another Jewish man who loved my children almost as much as he loved me. I was in the process of trying to figure out why I couldn’t seem to love him back, not in the way that he deserved, when Hannah’s friend request popped up on my iPhone screen.

I had words for it by then, from my years in college and in clinical practice, words I did not want to admit applied to me. However, I was starting to realize that despite my best efforts, I had failed to pray my gay away. I got divorced again, when it became too painful to keep lying to myself and hurting the people closest to me.

Hannah followed my posts about moving out of my Orthodox neighborhood and into Manhattan, sending little thumbs-up emojis. Then, there were pictures that got leaked of me kissing a woman with a flawless barber fade. Almost everyone I knew was shocked. Horrified. When Hannah saw them, she sent a voice message congratulating me, sounding totally unsurprised. “I’m so happy for you,” she said. “You look great.”

Throughout the pandemic, I noticed her photos started to shift, the head coverage slowly fading. There was some cycling through new names. I knew what that was like: breaking down an old life and finding the strength to start over. We texted and finally set up a time to meet.

Twenty years after our high school graduation (and with me married again, this time to a woman), I stood outside the Upper East Side’s Hummus Kitchen, scanning every person on the street. Was she the woman in sweatpants and a hoodie? The one in a sharp blazer and Chanel handbag? I should not have stressed. As soon as I saw Hannah, fringes waving off her arms, smile bright under the city lights, I knew.

“Tell me everything,” she said, hugging me.

We segued from my stories, to hers, to ours. Despite being a full-fledged grown-up who talks about complex emotions for a living, I heard myself stutter as I asked, “Remember — we hooked up?” The only words I could conjure to ask a question so much greater than that. If we played our most haunting duet in a closet, with no one around to hear it, did it even happen?

She paused, hand around her glass of rosé. “Yeah,” she said, in her 15-year-old Hannah drawl.

I gulped my own wine down in relief. It happened.

As the restaurant lights dimmed and a small candle appeared on our table, we started asking each other the questions we had been holding for decades.

Her: “Why were you always leaving without saying goodbye?”

Me: “Did I ruin you?”

We never asked the biggest one: What could we have been, if we had been raised to believe that love is never a sin?

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Love Letter: A Mysterious Delivery



After Charlotte Maya lost her husband to suicide, she and her young sons were used to unexpected visitors. But when her doorbell rang one mid-December evening, nobody was there.

Instead, on her doormat was a kit to make a gingerbread house with a note that only said, “On the First Day of Christmas. … ”

In this week’s Modern Love essay, “When a Doorbell’s Ring Means Hope,” Ms. Maya describes how a series of mysterious deliveries buoyed her family during their darkest days.

Join the 7-Day Happiness Challenge.

Research shows that the single most important driver of happiness is the strength of our relationships. Sign up for a week of exercises from the New York Times Well desk that will help set you up for a happier, more connected year.

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How One Japanese-American Designer Is Revitalizing Vintage Kimonos



In her Brooklyn studio, designer Sara Sakanaka keeps a small drawstring bag that her grandmother made for her decades ago. Sewn from textile scraps, the striped pouch is one of Sakanaka’s oldest keepsakes, an heirloom representing a generations-old philosophy. “My mom used to tell me this story. It was about how if we treat objects with love and care for one hundred years, they can obtain a soul,” she shares as pours each of us a cup of Mugicha, a Japanese Barley tea that she grew up drinking. We met at her studio on a gray Tuesday morning, where a collection of silk separates, each made from reclaimed Japanese kimonos, hangs neatly. On a shelf, folded piles of salvaged textiles wait for her to sew them into something new, just like her grandmother once did as a hobby. “There’s this whole idea that objects have lives,” she says. “I like to see every piece as a true considered object in that way.” 

Nick Krasznai / courtesy of Considered Objects 

It makes sense then that Sakanaka would name her own label Considered Objects. The 39-year-old launched her line—a collection of hand-sewn jackets, dresses, and shirtings that are made entirely from reclaimed Japanese kimonos and textiles—just two years ago. “I never had the dream of starting a business,” she shares. “I was happy working toward someone else’s vision. But at some point, there’s this part of you that wants to explore what you want to say. It took time for me to be able to discover that.” 

Sakanaka has a lot to say. With 20 years of experience under her belt, she has developed a design philosophy of her own. “I have no interest in buying new materials or producing with mills,” she says while showing me the intricate, hand-stitched panels of a vintage summer kimono. As she points out its cotton lining and hand-painted family crests (her own paternal and maternal family crests are tattooed on each of her arms), it becomes clear that she is not just making clothing; she’s stitching age-old stories into contemporary garments. “After years of working at different fashion brands, I found that you can get stuck on this hamster wheel. What has always grounded me was the question, ‘how can I not only find true meaning in these things, but how can I offer connection through these pieces?’”

Nick Krasznai / courtesy of Considered Objects 

Nick Krasznai / courtesy of Considered Objects 

An FIT graduate, the apparel designer previously worked for fashion label Imitation of Christ, luxury line Ports 1961, bespoke womenswear collection Honor, and the Japanese fashion house Foxey. In 2020, after spending nearly four years traveling back and forth between New York and Japan for work, she felt she was ready for something new. “I started to wonder how I would mentally, physically, and creatively sustain. I was burnt out.” she tells me. Around that time, her grandmother, the one who gave her the collaged drawstring bag and taught her how to sew, passed away. “This was during the pandemic, so I wasn’t able to attend her funeral in Japan. I had previously inherited her collection of kimonos and rediscovered them during that time. I had completely forgotten about them, but learning about them became part of my grieving process. Having those made me feel close to her,” Sakanaka reflects. 

It was then that she took a page from her grandmother’s book. “Studying these shambled garments and giving them new life through reconstruction was a way for me to heal while reconnecting with myself and my culture,” she says. Preserving the original rectangular panels and stitching style from each kimono, the designer began dismantling and reassembling each one. Her first design? A classic, collared, button-down shirt. Inside each shirt she constructed, Sakanaka sewed a layered patchwork flower made from leftover silk scraps. “That flower, that mark, it was sort of my way of memorializing the whole experience of my creation and of finding closure. It was a way of bestowing my honor upon each piece.” 

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Here’s How to Style 5 Luxurious Loungewear Sets This Winter



All products featured on Vogue are independently selected by our editors. However, we may earn affiliate revenue on this article and commission when you buy something.

Cozying up for the winter has never looked chicer courtesy of luxurious loungewear sets from The Row, Wardrobe.NYC, Éterne, and more. Crafted from ultra-soft cashmeres and sultry silks, these matching sets are as indulgent as it gets and can be worn in the comfort of your own home or out and about for casual coolness. As the newly appointed foundation of your winter wardrobe, styling a luxe loungewear set properly can offer both ease and elegance at the same time. 

For an elevated errand ensemble, The Row’s ‘Jaspar’ hoodie and matching ‘Anton’ wide-leg pants are knitted from the softest of cashmere. The chic combination is so comfortable that you won’t want to change once you get home. Enhance the look with stylish sneakers from Nike, plush cable-knit socks from Johnstons of Elgin, and Nothing Written’s minimalist bag. Loungewear sets, like this cashmere turtleneck and midi skirt pairing from Altuzarra, also have the power to be dressed up for festive evenings out, especially when adorned in jewels from Missoma and Laura Lombardi. A matching activewear set from Sporty & Rich ensures that you arrive at any workout in style. Sofa-ready outfits from Wardrobe.NYC and Olivia Von Halle help curate the perfect night in this holiday season and beyond. 

This winter, investing in a loungewear set has never looked better. Below, here are five ways to style luxe loungewear sets that are as comfortable as they are chic. (Plus, also find a few more statement sets to add to your winter wardrobe.) 

The Elegant Errand Runner

Nothing says chic errand runner like this matching cashmere hoodie and pant set from The Row. Knitted from the softest of cashmere, it’s a chic combination so comfortable that you won’t want to change once you get home. Enhance the look with stylish sneakers from Nike, plush cable-knit socks from Johnstons of Elgin, and Nothing Written’s minimalist bag. Jewels from Mejuri are welcome embellishments. 

The Row Jaspar cashmere hoodie

The Row Anton cashmere high-rise pants

Johnstons of Elgin cable-knit cashmere socks

Nothing Written Ferry bag

Mejuri bold Croissant dôme huggies

The Cozy, Yet Chic Evening Look 

A loungewear set doesn’t have to be confined to the comforts of your own home or even resemble a traditional sweatsuit, for that matter. Case in point: find this dazzling skirt set from Altuzarra that is crafted from pure cashmere. Complete the elegant evening ensemble with Saint Laurent’s croc-effect pumps and Anine Bing’s minimalist handbag. Drip in gold thanks to Missoma hoop earrings and Laura Lombardi’s cult-classic necklace. 

Saint Laurent Blade chain croc-effect leather slingback pumps

Anine Bing Colette shoulder bag

Missoma x Lucy Williams chunky entwine hoop earrings

Laura Lombardi Calle gold-plated necklace

The Statement Sporty Attire

When it comes to activewear, a matching set, like this one from Sporty & Rich, will ensure that you arrive at any workout in style. Go one step further and tie the brand’s ‘Wellness’ sweatshirt around your waist for extra comfort. New Balance ‘Core’ sneakers are a staple in any workout wardrobe, as are these Bala Bangles and Stanley’s tumbler to keep you nice and hydrated. 

Sporty & Rich appliquéd cotton-jersey sweatshirt

Sporty & Rich cropped printed stretch-jersey tank

Sporty & Rich printed stretch-jersey leggings

New Balance 574 Core sneakers

Stanley Quencher H2.O travel tumbler, 40oz

The Luxurious Loungewear Set

Wardrobe.NYC x Hailey Bieber’s simple grey sweatshirt and sweatpants are prime examples of luxurious loungewear. Wear with a coveted pair of Birkenstocks—or even heels for an elevated athleisure look. But because we’re sticking with loungewear, cozy up even more courtesy of cashmere socks from Raey and Brunello Cucinelli’s alpaca-blend blanket. Loewe’s scented candle is an immediate ambiance enhancer. 

Wardrobe.NYC x Hailey Bieber cotton sweatshirt

Wardrobe.NYC x Hailey Bieber wide-leg cotton sweatpants

Birkenstock Boston shearling clogs

Raey ribbed cashmere-blend socks

Brunello Cucinelli speckled-jacquard fringed alpaca-blend blanket

Loewe Home Scents Honeysuckle medium scented candle, 610g

The Perfect Pair of Pajamas 

Olivia Von Halle’s ‘Coco’ pajama set is crafted from the finest of satins to create a soft-to-the-touch feel you’ll never want to take off. Meanwhile, Ugg slippers are the perfect accoutrement. Continue to wind down with the help of scented bath salts from Maude and Augustinus Bader’s luxurious face cream. Reflect on your day with The Five Minute Journal and finally get some shut-eye thanks to Brooklinen’s silk eye mask. 

Olivia Von Halle Coco silk-satin pajama set

Ugg Scuffette II slippers

Brooklinen Mulberry silk eyemask

Augustinus Bader The Rich Cream with TFC8® face moisturizer

Maude Soak No. 2 nourishing mineral bath salts

Shop More: 

Leset Lauren cropped stretch-knit cardigan

Leset Lauren stretch-knit wide-leg pants

Éterne oversized crewneck sweatshirt

Éterne classic sweatpants

Lisa Yang Jonny cap-sleeved cashmere sweater

Lisa Yang Sierra wide-leg cashmere trousers

Zara basic hoodie sweatshirt

Girlfriend Collective ReSet cropped stretch recycled top

Girlfriend Collective compressive stretch recycled flared leggings

Le Kasha Etretat organic cashmere sweater

Le Kasha Sumbal cashmere wide-leg pants

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