From left, Carrie, Dillan and Sheila.
Coming Out to My Son
I said to my 12-year-old son, “You know how men and women date and marry, like I did with Dad before we split up?” He nodded. “Well,” I said, “I’m dating someone but not a man; I’m dating a woman.” He said, “Are you happy?” “Yes,” I said, “Very happy.” “Cool,” he said, “then I’m happy.” A few years later he walked me down the aisle to my soon-to-be wife. — Carrie Platner
My mother’s debutante portrait, which she let me alter after our reconciliation.
We Fought It Together
Mom, my ex-nemesis, allowed me just one glass of wine with the high-protein, low-fiber dinners she would cook me. My defenses down, I was losing my hair and the old hostility. “I’d take your place if I could,” she said through tears one night as she tucked me in bed. My mother couldn’t bear to lose me, even though I wasn’t the married Southern belle she expected her daughter to be. And I couldn’t fight my mother and cancer at the same time. So we stopped fighting each other and fought my cancer together. — Page Leggett
My boyfriend and me, at left, with the friends who begged me to slap him.
I Slapped Him Hard
I was working as a bartender and waitress at BBR (“Burgers, Beer and Rock ‘n’ Roll”). He was watching a Duke basketball game with his friends. When I came over, his friends begged me to slap him. Apparently, he had lost a bet, a slap bet. I asked my boss if I could slap this cute customer. My boss said yes. So I slapped him hard on his left cheek, and it must have been an amazing slap because here we are madly in love four years later. — Laura Pomales
The Wat Samian Nari temple in Bangkok.
Living in Bangkok, I suffer from a common affliction in urban metropolises: Among millions of people, I’m lonely. The fact that I am a shy foreigner makes new relationships difficult to cultivate. So I often fulfill my need for human intimacy through one of Bangkok’s most widely available and affordable activities: massages. A one-hour massage per week easily turns into two hours, then three. Four is a record set during one especially solitary stretch. For those hours, my body — contorted by confident, unyielding hands — returns to a childlike state; contained, safe and embraced. — Alastair McCready
When Love Is a Recipe
Chopped celery and squared potatoes waiting in the fridge. On the counter, a jug of water and a slow-cooker filled with dried peas. On the lid, a tiny note from my husband, the professional chef, to me, who burns water. “At noonish: 1. Add water 2. Add veggies 3. Stir 4. Plug in 5. Forget.” His sweetly crooked handwriting. His unconditional faith in me. Between steps 4 and 5, it hit me. Married love is seldom about the grand gesture. Sometimes it simply shows up as a recipe from your partner, helping you make a tasty pot of soup. — Meagan Fratiello