“I Can’t Do This on My Own”
As I pushed my trolley through the pink gate of our terrace house in Melbourne and up the street toward the supermarket, my 3-year-old son decided to assert his independence, refusing to step beyond our fence. Knee-deep in single parenthood and at the end of my ability to cajole, coax, encourage or demand, I turned to look him square in the eye. “I can’t do this on my own,” I said. “We need to work together.” He met my gaze, dropped his tantrum and ran toward me. We have been a team ever since. — Elizabeth Keen
A Warm Meal for My Brother
My big brother and I giggled at our successful disobedience as we traded comic books, flashlights bobbing between our beds. He was my friend, the two of us bonded by years of childhood mischief. Decades later, leaving a blues venue, I realized it had been six years since I’d known my brother’s whereabouts. He would have loved the performance. Outside, a stranger approached. “Spare $5 for a sandwich?” he asked. Looking into his eyes, I wondered when my brother had last savored a warm meal. To this stranger’s delight, I pulled out $20. That night, I fed my brother.— Cassandra Lund
Yes, Rabbis Play Pool
My friend wanted to set us up. I said the 17-year age gap was too great, and besides, I would never date a rabbi. She brought him to our weekly pub trivia game, “just as a friend, no pressure.” Up close, I noticed eye crinkles from a lifetime of smiling, his booming laugh. Later, I saw him walking home in the rain. He accepted my ride offer. Our first date was shooting pool in a bar. My non-Jewish friends were incredulous: “Rabbis do that?” Yes, they do. Rabbis shoot pool in dive bars, caulk your tub, hold your gaze and win your heart. — Tova Tenenbaum
Maybe It Just Stopped Being Good
Maybe he didn’t love me from the beginning. Maybe I shouldn’t have accepted his mother’s engagement ring. Maybe he didn’t mean it when he held me close. Maybe I expected too much of him. Maybe we shouldn’t have bought that house, built the barn, so carefully tended the chickens and sheep, the roses and raspberries. Maybe we shouldn’t have moved to India. Maybe if I hadn’t needed him to help me take care of my mother. Maybe if he had been different. Maybe if I had been. Maybe not. But maybe. — Judith Edmister
His dating profile read “conservative.” Wary, I said yes anyway. While working full-time and raising two children, he was studying for his third master’s degree. “Why?” I asked. “I like learning. It’s fun.” He listened to understand, not plan his counterattack. He shared his opinions openly but only if I asked. He taught me to think more logically; I raised his emotional I.Q. On the topic of marriage? We both said yes. We are registered Independents now, but we rarely discuss politics at home. We discuss faith and forgiveness and keeping labels out of love. — Elizabeth Watson Chaney
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