Tiny Love Stories: ‘The Only Way I’ll Meet a Man’

I worked three teaching jobs and slept in our apartment’s unheated kitchen to give my teenage children the bedrooms. I had scant time for food shopping, insufficient time to sleep, zero time for anything else. We subsisted on rice, beans, pasta, tuna, peanut butter. It seemed absurd to hope for more — but I couldn’t stop longing for a loving partner. I thought, “The only way I’ll meet a man is if he walks into my kitchen.” One week later, Ken, a substitute teacher picking up one of my lesson plans, walked into my kitchen. Miraculously, we fell in love. — Sari Ellen

Before trading in my 2013 minivan, my husband Dave cleaned it. Hidden in a crevice, Dave found a letter, dated April 1997, from my grandfather. He wrote, “Know that my moral support and love are with you always!!!” I had never seen the letter and don’t know how it ended up in my minivan. But I do know: For nearly a decade, I drove that minivan everywhere — to kids’ activities, synagogue, work and to my grandfather’s funeral. That’s a lot of living. Nearly 100,000 miles of it. My grandfather’s love came with me for the whole trip. — Deborah Bodin Cohen

You’re not my girlfriend. But the moment you tell me you’re not feeling well, I buy onions, celery, carrots, chicken and noodles, and spend the afternoon peeling, dicing and simmering. As if a bowl of soup can convey what I can’t tell you. As if walking 10 blocks to your apartment in November is the same as saying “I love you.” You open the door and laugh and say you love me, unthinkingly. The bowl is warm in my hands. I remind myself that you have a boyfriend. I know you love him. But I love you all the same. — Melanie Zhang

The night I met my husband Chris, we collaborated in whispers, developing a secret drinking game. Our fingers brushed as we triumphantly laid three Scrabble tiles on the board. Satisfied with our simple response of “C-A-T” to our opposing team’s triple-word-scoring “A-V-O-C-A-D-O,” we clinked our bottles of beer together and laughed until tears slid from our eyes. “We’re winning!” our friend told her partner, tallying up their far-superior points. “No,” he replied, looking at me and my new conspirator, glimpsing our future. “They are.”— Kate Lewis

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