Tiny Love Stories: ‘My Husband Is Not My Son’

We are both named Phoebe. This means our path to love has been littered with disbelief, laughter and confusion. It was hard enough coming out in a lesbian relationship in our late 20s, but a relationship between two people with the same name? People say, “You’re joking, right?” But it’s no joke that when we moved the fridge during our kitchen renovation, she saw my rainbow writing on the wall, asking her to marry me. And it’s no joke that she said yes. And I’m not joking when I say that my life is very nearly perfect now. — Phoebe Wallner

Unspeakable pain in my right shoulder sent me to the doctor at 37 weeks pregnant. “HELLP syndrome,” she said. Life-threatening. Emergency C-section. Blood transfusions. Liver blood clot. Rare. I wasn’t ready to meet my baby girl. I searched for clues in the nurse’s eyes, asking her, “Am I going to die? Will I be able to be her mother?” My baby lived. I almost didn’t. Weeks followed where I couldn’t hold Ruby. I was too weak. Wasn’t ready. Didn’t want to. Then one day that tiny girl gave me a half smile. I knew we were going to be O.K. — Stefanie Torres

Ever since I turned 45, my husband, who is nine months younger than I am, has been repeatedly mistaken for my son. I have two 20-something sons, but Mike is not one of them. I can’t say that I’ve taken it well — or accepted it without a struggle. Botox has softened my lines, though my outlook has softened, too. Now, at 56, I see my husband’s thick hair, slim physique and smooth skin as a bonus of being his partner. It makes me feel desirable. Thirty-two years ago, we chose each other. We choose each other still. — Jane Marion

Breaking up in a small mountain town is hard. I still crane my neck after every white truck, searching the bed for your scratched black toolbox and the ghosts of us intertwined there, sleeping under younger stars. One day we may have children, but not together. And those children — mine, yours, but not ours — may grow up in the valley where we fell in love. They may even ski after school together. I’ll smile at your new truck across the ski hill parking lot. Your long auburn hair will be shorter and grayer, but you’ll still wear a mustache, and you’ll smile back. — Michelle DeLong

Recently, I stood over the stove caramelizing onions. The smell suddenly reminded me of that summer we spent cooped up in our tiny dark apartment. Hiding from the heat in the day and caramelizing onions in the evening. Excited by the aroma, our feet stuck to linoleum, we came alive as the sun went down, our bellies growling for a taste. I had forgotten it was all we ate — for weeks, caramelized onions — because it was all we could afford. My memories of that time are sweet, sticky and content. Almost buried by layers of time. — Megan Bolaños

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