Tiny Love Stories: ‘The Most Beautiful Woman I Ever Saw’

The most beautiful woman I ever saw stood at the 96th Street subway entrance. She was clearly waiting for someone. Probably her husband. Whatever, I thought. I’d never been the kind to talk to strangers. With a sigh, I descended the stairs and boarded the train. The train sat. And sat. And then, just as the chimes rang and the doors began to close, a friend of mine and the beautiful woman rushed on to the car. My friend introduced me to her sister. And that, 30 years ago, is how I met my wife. — Mark Sameth

I didn’t recognize my son in the parking lot of the Adult Crisis Stabilization Unit. His graceful walk now a shuffling gait. A thin cap, knotted at the top, pulled over his head. I wanted to ask this man, “Have you seen my son? Do you know where my devilish boy went? You seem a lot like him.” But we don’t intentionally wound our children with such questions. So, instead, I said, “I like your hat.” He said, “Thanks, the night nurse made it for me.” Weeks later, watching him walk toward me, I recognized the grace of his step. — Judith Sandler

Twenty-eight years ago, my diet consisted of canned tuna, pancake mix and protein powder. One evening Katrina, then my new girlfriend, came to my apartment with dinner, her car window smeared with purple goop. Her blueberry crumble had tumbled off her car’s roof. When she tried to catch it, she dropped her fish stew. She salvaged a few bites, insisting they were mine. It was the first time I tasted fresh fennel. Those morsels introduced me to a life full of flavor with Katrina as my partner. I’m most grateful for parenthood, entirely her idea, and unexpectedly delectable. — Desiree Beck

Seemingly the only student from a slum in my freshman class at Fu-Jen University in Taipei, I felt unworthy to be among wealthy students who attended summer camps abroad. I eventually dropped out. Thirty years later, that prestigious school asked me to speak to their students as a “Taiwanese immigrant who thrives overseas.” A freshman emailed me after my talk: “I feel exactly how you felt when you were here … Can we be friends?” It’s like my 19-year-old self returning to me, looking for understanding and encouragement. I tell her what I’d longed to hear: You matter; keep going. — Allison Hong Merrill

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