Tiny Love Stories: ‘Not the Romance I’d Imagined’

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Flannel, fireplace, falling snow and frosty windows. The chilly Vermont evening felt so romantic, yet I stood alone gazing up at the stars, struck by both the immensity of the sky and the realization that this was not the romance I’d imagined. He sat inside the warm log cabin, claiming “it’s too cold” to go out. A few years later, I have a new lover who shares my sense of wonder. “Will you go look at the stars with me?” I ask. Wrapping me in a warm hug, he replies, “Always.” We step out into the starry night, together. — Kate Pearce

On a snowy hike in Colorado with my new partner this winter.

Mama never said “goodbye.” She’d end phone conversations by simply hanging up. Or flee to grandma’s without comment whenever her fights with Dad escalated. The last time I saw her in our motherland, Taiwan, she was dying. I begged her to say “goodbye” so I could return to America with closure. She refused. In an airport 26 years later, I hear a woman say goodbye to her family at passenger drop-off. I’m shocked; her voice is uncannily similar to my mother’s. It’s like I’m finally hearing Mama say goodbye — which translates to “see you again” in our native Mandarin. — Allison Hong Merrill

After the assault, I shoved the little black dress I had been wearing to the back of my closet. The plunging neckline and cutout shoulders glared accusingly from the hanger. Before it was stained with shame, it had once been my favorite dress. I could neither wear it nor throw it away. Years passed. My hand lingered on the dress while rummaging for something to wear on a date. Gingerly, I tried it on. In the mirror, I saw myself coming back home into my skin. I smiled and took a deep breath. Then I walked out the door. — Jordan Hoffman Kahle

She was already at the bar reading a novel about fly fishing when I arrived for our first date. She greeted me with a broad and welcoming smile. Everything about her was warm, grounded, open. Our time together was surprisingly natural, our conversation fluid and unrushed. Raised by parents who struggled to pay the bills and often had to work nights, I grew up believing in the finite: Time, money, affection were hard to come by. She helped me trust that love was a blanket big enough to cover my shoulders and feet at the same time. There is enough. — Alli Auldridge

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