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Tiny Love Stories: ‘I Want a Divorce’

My childhood summers were measured in splinters. Gnarled docks and jagged playgrounds — true hallmarks of an adventurous day — were just some of the culprits. Despite their frequency, I treated each splinter as a novelty, crying fresh at the wound. Recovery came in the form of my great-uncle’s patience. I sat cross-legged beside his koi pond as Uncle Freddie fished out the wood slivers. His process was simple: pluck, bandage, smile. My cooperation came at a price. A successful extraction earned me a single maraschino cherry, straight from the jar. As a child, healing was so sweet. — Haley Kachmar

The bar was almost empty. He led the way to a banquette and slid behind a table for one. “In case other people want the bigger tables,” he explained. I sat next to him with no table to rest my drink on. The D.J. brought a karaoke songbook. I studied it, trying to muster my confidence. After a while he asked, “Are you almost done? Someone else might want that book.” I looked around: the empty seats, the pile of extra songbooks. I thought about things. So many damn things. I turned to him. “I want a divorce,” I said. — Lynda Smith Hoggan


At the end of high school, I kissed my best friend, a girl. I excitedly shared this news with our mutual friend, who promptly disinvited me to her wedding and no longer let me babysit her infant son. In 1980s suburbia, it was easier to be with a man. I put my bisexuality on the back burner, where it continued to boil. My daughter is out and proudly queer. I’m in awe — if not a little jealous — of the acceptance she has experienced. I am out now, and, luckily, I can share in my daughter’s joy. — Susan Jennifer Polese

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My mother waited 15 years in Kowloon before joining my father in Brooklyn following the Immigration Act of 1965. She died shortly after arriving, when I was 1. When I was 4, I woke up in our one-bedroom, Avenue U apartment and looked over at my sleeping father and new stepmother: a widower and widow. By chance, my father also opened his eyes, and reached out his hand to hold mine between our close beds. In that grasp, he passed along an unspoken promise of joy we had yet to experience, but would. I continually wrap that memory around me. — Elizabeth Hong-Geller

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