What did I know about her personal life or her family? One time she told me about her grandmother, who miraculously survived in the Dachau concentration camp, working as a nurse in a typhoid barrack. In her old age, the grandmother got sick with Alzheimer’s and relatives sent her to the nursing home. Jenn was tortured with guilt because of it, although she was just a teenager then. When she described for me her grandma’s last days and death, even thirty years later she still got a bit rattled.
Jenn’s father held some administrative position in the Yeshiva until retirement, while her mother was a housewife. She also had an older sister, Sarah. You can tell from the tense tone with which Jenn spoke to Sarah on the phone that the relationship between sisters was not the best.
I was familiar with the episode of her unsuccessful attempt to become a ballerina. Incomplete role of Odette—the Swan. The conflict with her family because of this had surely given her an inferiority complex—the feeling of an ugly duckling never having become a swan.
It’s unclear why Jenn stopped on such a low level professionally, why she did not go further climbing the career ladder. She could have become the clinic’s assistant director; she definitely had more than enough knowledge and clinical experience. Was it the temptation of a peaceful, comfortable life? Strolling through boutiques, buying fashionable clothes, attending spas—did she prefer all these flashy rags and gold bling to her career?
Or maybe she busied herself with her family and children, not having enough time for anything else. When she became Dr. Baron’s lover she no longer needed to overexert herself as much at all.
And her children grew up, the oldest daughter having already flown from the nest, and her son set to fly in a few years. Jenn will be left alone in an empty nest. The only things left would be her sock boots and damn nose-and-ears Doctor Baron.
I remembered one professor in the university, when we discussed the topic of “midlife crisis in women and men,” touched on the so-called “empty-nest syndrome,” and shared her feelings when her own children grew up and left the house. “The smells are gone! The house lost my children’s smells!”the professor exclaimed. “I walked around the whole house, sniffing everywhere, but it became empty and foreign; it no longer smelled like my children!”