When Shame Leads to Kindness
My mother and I were driving through Detroit when we stopped at a light and noticed a blind man attempting to cross a busy street. My mother told me to go help him, but I — a shy, baffled teenager — refused. She got out and helped the man cross, then we drove on. My shame lingered until decades later in Los Angeles when I noticed a blind man trying to cross Vine Street. I stopped and helped him, shutting down five lanes of traffic. Driving off, I heard people clapping and tooting their horns. Thank you for your example, Mother. — Thomas Drotar
We Both Felt Sorry for the Same Pumpkin
I met Bruce when I was a single parent on an autumn field trip in Michigan with my first-grade daughter. He was a widower with a 7-year-old son. At the pumpkin patch, we talked and laughed while the children roamed the fields. Bruce came up to me, smiling and holding the biggest, ugliest, warty, mottled pumpkin and said, “I love this!” I had passed that pumpkin in the field earlier and thought, “That poor pumpkin needs someone to love it.” Ten years later, our blended family goes to the pumpkin patch each year. — Laura Macdonald
How Will I Know?
I showed Noel an article that waxed romantic about Whitney Houston’s song, “How Will I Know.” Despite our fast connection, I felt foolish asking them (singular “them”) to consider that this could be more than a summer fling. They lived in San Francisco and I had another year of school in New Haven. Houston’s words kept running through my head: “Don’t trust your feelings / Love can be deceiving.” In August, before I left California, we locked eyes amid a sea of dancing bodies as the opening chords of “How Will I Know” crashed through speakers. I thought, triumphantly: I know. — Emmett Chen-Ran
Another Kind of Love
On our first date we discussed your allergies — pineapples and beans. You seemed neurotic and funny. Our second, you talked about monkeys deprived of touch, choosing wooden dummies over food. I wanted to kiss you. Our third, I did. You didn’t kiss back. Fourth and fifth, we met as friends, but during the sixth, when you put your arm around me, I felt a flutter of hope. You later texted me a flower, saying you had no romantic feelings. I cried, but we are friends again and I accept it. There is love there, just another kind. — Belinda Hoey