“Way Before ‘La La Land’”
It was way too early to be awake but I had a long commute from Tujunga to Marina del Rey. The 405 was stopped (this was way before ‘La La Land’). Suddenly, the driver door of the car directly in front of my Toyota swung open. The man I had gone out with for the first time the night before emerged and walked toward me. He kissed me through my window then strolled back to his car. Traffic began to move. Now we are both old and married forever. But the memory holds. — Peg Burr
One in a Billion
Our love is rare. We always felt this. But one day, science confirmed the rarity of our love and it was a very bad thing. After the birth of our son, we learned we are both carriers of a one-in-a-billion immune system genetic mutation. Our child was afflicted. We went from proud parents to sleeping on chairs in intensive care, watching our son die. Should I have married my college boyfriend instead? He underwhelmed me, but our children would have been healthy. No. Rare love is worth it no matter how deeply its consequences can shatter you. — Andrea Gillespie
2,800 Miles Close Together
People don’t often associate the sound of snores with love, but I do. People don’t often associate technology with love, but I do. To me, love is the sound of my mother’s breathing over the course of a six-hour FaceTime call. I was 21 and alone in Mexico. I told her that I was woken by a man who had tried to break into my room. She listened, then calmly said, “I am here. I am too exhausted to stay up all night, but I am here.” She slept next to me from 2,800 miles away. — Lucy Putnam
Who Cares Less?
He hooked up with someone else. I never texted first. He didn’t show up to meet my sister. I was still talking to my ex. We were stuck in a game of Who Cares Less? I won. But really, I lost. — Caroline Kulig
A Human Connection
Two officers transported me from Elmira Correctional Facility to a cardiologist’s office in town. I waddled into the exam room wearing ankle cuffs, wrists shackled. A nurse entered. I felt like an animal outside its cage, unshowered and raw, but she smiled anyway. She made eye contact, even shook my hand before pressing a stethoscope to my battered heart. We were close enough to hear each other breathe. After a few precious seconds of small talk, she tapped my ankle cuffs with two fingers and said, “You’re smarter than this.” I was too choked up to ask her name. — Michael Fischer
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