May 31, 2023

Windows open, music blaring as we drive over the mountains that separate the valleys of Sonoma and Napa. My sister and I have memorized these mountains as we have been making this commute between our two homes for 12 years. With every life change, this urge has remained consistent: 30 minutes of forced time together to say something or just sit in silence, 30 minutes to strengthen our bond forever. Now, the night before she leaves, I look at her, wind in her hair, and I hope these urges meant as much to her as they did to me. — Zoe Holman

When I was 8, my parents’ arranged marriage was dissolved. My mother, Mei-Lin, moved to California and took a back seat to my life. When I was 32, she died of lung cancer two days before Mother’s Day. Never a smoker, but always an optimist, she passed on a magpie assortment of amulets: a smiling ceramic pig, a penny from the year I went to college, and winning scratch cards she never cashed in – paper evidence of her fortune worth a lot more than $20. Now, even when it seems that luck is gone, her talismans remind me to believe. — Jean Huang

I am deeply in love with a polyamorous woman. My journey from monogamy to ethical non-monogamy is destabilizing, lonely — like a mirror reflecting everything I don’t want to see: my incessant insecurities, unhealthy attachment patterns, the various ways I rely on others for validation. Through our relationship I have learned that love is not a scarce commodity. On the contrary, love is boundless and multiplies the most when it no longer tries to control. I have learned that I am the only person who can heal my feelings of inadequacy – the only person who can make me feel complete. Healthy relationships don’t compensate; they enlarge. — Sara Cassman

The year my boyfriend and I started dating, my parents moved from Canada to Brazil, making it my first Christmas without them. I never told my boyfriend how devastated I felt to spend the holidays without family. Over dinner I was overcome with emotion and started crying over our calamari. “I miss my parents,” I said. He reached across the table, grabbed my hands and said with deep concern, “You peed your pants?” Now married 15 years with two kids, he is still the man who would hold my hand through anything, even if I soiled myself in public. — Monica Palit