Tiny Love Stories

Monday, February 10, 2020 - 11:27pm

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Designed by Kate Glad and Elizabeth Bigham

Editor's note: The Statement's Tiny Love Stories are inspired by The New York Times' Tiny Love Story contest. You can read some of those by the NYT here.

Chicken-fried feeling

Jacob threatens to order a pizza nearly every night but almost never follows through. We rarely share a meal that doesn’t send him into some vague gastrointestinal pain, except the sushi we once ate in a Toledo, Ohio bathtub (“I didn’t know sushi could be, like, a meal”). He once mused on the concept of chicken-fried steak to me for half an hour, then vowed to order it from every menu that offers it. He sends me a picture each time, an indecipherable sort of meat slathered with glue-colored gravy. “This will give me pain,” he usually says. Verity Sturm, Statement Correspondent.

Sharing a plate of sushi, not in a bathtub this time.

Sharing a plate of sushi, not in a bathtub this time. Buy this photo
Courtesy of Verity Sturm

 

From opposite worlds, united abroad

Ty and I were never supposed to meet. He grew up homeless in New Jersey, while my Michigan suburb bubble-wrapped me in privilege. He’s Afro-Latino and I’m white. We met studying abroad in Costa Rica, where he taught me to dance bachata, and I taught him to play ukulele. Having escaped the social structures keeping us apart in the United States, we quickly fell in love. Six months, two countries and three states later, learning is still our constant. As we unwrap the layers of our opposite worlds, cycles of poverty and privilege, what we’ve uncovered is that there’s always more to learn. Hannah Brauer, Statement Columnist.

At a dance club in Costa Rica.

At a dance club in Costa Rica. Buy this photo
Courtesy of Hannah Brauer

 

The greatest love

No more are the days I would meticulously record each calorie I ate, the days I would cry over the extra weight on my thighs. Long gone is that Sunday in March when I landed in the hospital from a self-induced iron deficiency. Now I eat to my heart and stomach’s content, a symbolic thank you to my strong legs for carrying me from class to class and through mediocre self-choreographed swing dancing routines on a Friday summer night. Today, I love my every stretch mark, curve and dimple of my imperfectly perfect being. In my twenty years, this is the greatest love I have yet to know. Anonymous.  

A moment of freedom, strength and happiness.

A moment of freedom, strength and happiness. Buy this photo
Courtesy of the Author

 

Our first meeting

Running into the coffeehouse — book bag open, hair stuck in my mouth — I blurted out an apology: “Sorry I’m late, I’m coming from the courthouse … A protective order … it’s fine,” I tried to reason. His eyebrows scrunched with annoyance, softened into concern. He was at a loss for words, I assumed he felt awkward. Most people did. But he tried to comfort me: “Don’t worry, I’ll handle the project.” After an hour of coffee and laughs, I left lighter than I’d felt all week. A year later, I found my way back to him. I still run late, and he’s still taking care of me. Julia Fanzeres, LSA and SMTD senior.

On a trip to Traverse City over fall break.

On a trip to Traverse City over fall break. Buy this photo
Courtesy of Julia Fanzeres

 

Sunday at the deli

One Sunday at the deli, my grandparents argue over what year they got married. My grandfather insists it was 1958, in the winter. My grandma says, “No Howard, it was 1960, the year Kennedy was elected.” They agree it’s impossible that all these years have passed. Look at this family we built. Look at these grandchildren. When my mother calls my grandfather, hoping he’ll accept help caring for his wife, he declines with pride. It is our job to take care of each other, he says. What a love that lasts through the years. What a love that transcends memory, that just comes to be. Emily Stillman, Statement Deputy Editor.

Love that lasts longer than lifetimes.

Love that lasts longer than lifetimes. Buy this photo
Courtesy of Emily Stillman

 

My (literal) other half

I am one minute older than my brother. I existed on Earth for 60 seconds before he decided to join me — slow poke. Some twins might recount this story with bitterness, upset that their sibling stole the birthday spotlight, but not me — not us. Alexander and I work as a team; we always have. He knows that I secretly enjoy the dumb texts he sends me, including the time he crashed my computer by pasting 100,000 heart emojis in one message, and he knows how to give me a real hug when I need more love than an emoji can send. Zoe Phillips, LSA senior.

Two baby bundles are better than one.

Two baby bundles are better than one. Buy this photo
Courtesy of Zoe Phillips

 

A (tiny) list of things I love:

A kind word from a stranger on the walk to class. Finding out someone loves that book and author, too. The sound of their laugh — pure, spontaneous, an accident that almost didn’t happen. A shared copy of “All The Light We Cannot See.” Thin upstrokes and downstrokes: calligraphy pen against paper. Pale blue hand-me-down picnic blanket on dewy grass, soft. Running to catch the sunrise even though you have already captured a thousand more. Twirling the curls in their hair, wanting them for myself. Firecrackers, the lingering smell of incense hanging in the air, a flickering spark in the darkness. Quinna Halim, LSA freshman.

Add making art to the list of things to love.

Add making art to the list of things to love. Buy this photo
Courtesy of Quinna Halim

 

Cook, not chef

I love like I season my dishes: intense, flavorful. I like to stir myself up like I stir my homemade leshta, churning my insides with made-up scenarios that burn like hot manja on the roof of my mouth. I am not a chef: I drop water-filled pots, mix the wrong ingredients, forget rice on the stovetop, watching it curl on its ends, charred and defeated. But I always start over, feeling hope between the gentle leaves of fresh spinach, and hearing whispers of good luck in the soft sifting of lentils. I am not a chef yet, simply a cook trying to master this intangible, frustrating, heartbreaking craft. Magdalena Mihaylova, Statement Managing Editor.

Homemade leshta, before being drowned in paprika.

Homemade leshta, before being drowned in paprika. Buy this photo
Courtesy of Magdalena Mihaylova