Taking the Wheel
My grandparents had a 20-foot-long, “Breaking Bad”-style camper that they would drive from snowy Wisconsin to sunny Florida. When I told my grandfather about my pipe dream to take the van on a graduation road trip, he smiled and said, “I’ll drive.” By the time I graduated college, both the camper and my grandpa were gone. Instead, I drove all over the East Coast in his ’99 Toyota — his sunglasses and spare change still in the cup holders. As I started my journey, I gripped the weathered steering wheel and smiled. It felt like he and I were driving.— Angie Newman
Driving my grandpa’s Toyota Solara in snowy Wisconsin.
United by Flight
We took a course at Barnard about the birds of New York. Before a quiz, I made a GarageBand track with bird names and Audubon recordings. “Blue jay.” “Tufted titmouse.” I wrote, then rewrote, an email to Lhana: “In case this helps you study for the quiz!” She didn’t respond. But after we took the quiz on a windy day in Jamaica Bay, she sat next to me on the bus to Manhattan and said thanks. Years later, I proposed to her while playing the bird songs over speakers in an empty theater. When she said yes, my heart soared. — Madeline Taylor
He Lives in My Phone
I last saw Ajay on our two-year anniversary; it will be our third before I see him next. During the pandemic, I have forgotten what it’s like to be with him in real life. Some nights, I ask him to stay with me until morning. I place my phone next to my pillow as if he’s there next to me and listen to him shuffle against the blankets. Then, I close my eyes and fill in the blanks: his arms looped around me, my legs braided gently into his. It reminds my body of the warmth it has forgotten. — Katherine Hu
Shelter Dog for a Sheltered Heart
They deemed her unadoptable because she was scared of everything. But lying on the cold shelter floor that January day, she cracked open my guarded heart. A week later, I brought home my shaggy little bear and called her Stevie. She’s still scared of many things: the garbage truck, men in uniform, loud children. But she has developed a fondness for just as many others: barbecue chicken, snuggles on the couch, walks in the park. If you want to learn how to be loved, adopt a dog who needs to learn how, too. — Lee Propp
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