Tiny Love Stories: ‘He Knows Better by Now’


“Your favorite New Year’s Eve ever?” I asked my husband of 10 years. I was recalling our early-romance giddy-tipsy stroll up the Champs-Élysées, champagne and kisses shared between us — but I was open to hearing his choice. Patrick smiled dreamily and said, “The Rose Garden in Bern: snow falling softly around her.” Less gently than before, I said, “Let’s try that again. What was your favorite New Year’s Eve ever — not with your ex-girlfriend, but with your wife.” “Oops,” he said, recognizing his error. We’ll celebrate our 30th anniversary in January. (Yeah, he knows better by now.) — Margaret Ghielmetti

When my mother visited my first apartment, she handed me a gift, wrapped in her signature way with tissue paper and two curly bows. Rolled up inside was a patterned dish towel. For almost 20 years, she gave me new towels for my birthday, Christmas and other random occasions. At one point, I thought, “Enough! I have too many.” But they kept coming: polka dots, colorful stripes, fanciful illustrations. Now, nine years since my mother’s death, I reach for the whimsical towels in my kitchen and think of her several times a day. — Jocelyn Jane Cox


“She’s getting more and more useless!” my husband joked to friends when I was pregnant with triplets. Funny because it was true, and it poked at my enduring belief that my productivity determined my worth. I always strove to earn my place: in school, on the job and among friends. When our beloved babies were born, I felt the weight of their inherent value. Of course, they couldn’t do anything helpful. But they didn’t need to earn our love, and they never would. Suddenly, I saw how if it was true of them, it must also be true of me. — Deborah Erstad Donnelly

Every time a stranger compliments my bike, I want to tell them about you. I want to say, “Thank you, my ex-girlfriend built it for me. I don’t know anything about bikes.” When you gave me the bike, you talked me through its features. Then you said, “The real present is the seat,” explaining how the leather saddle would soften with time. It took me a long time to soften too. Sometimes, when I hear strangers say, “What a cool bike,” I regret that I was so rigid when we were together. I say, “Thank you,” and continue my ride. — Tess Veuthey



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