Tiny Love Stories: ‘20 Years in the Friend Zone’

A Long To-Do List

The night you were discharged from the clinic where we had been both patient and prisoner, you tried to throw yourself into blinding headlights. Days later, I visited you in a new white room. You showed me a list of things you wanted to do. It was long, and I was relieved. You had written, “Kiss Greta,” and I looked at you, surprised. That’s when you checked off the first thing on that list, and I thought of time, how ours had intersected to produce an unpredictable bond and a happiness that we had missed for so long. — Greta Kerr

When We Became One

We grew up in even numbers. Two parents, four sons, six people. Two boys per bedroom. Summers with two of us at one of our grandparents’ houses and two at the other, then a switch. Always disciplined, referred to and taught about the facts of life in pairs. Then, in middle age, Kurt called me to say that Greg, the youngest, had unexpectedly died, and I called Chris to tell him the same. Chris and I flew home and Kurt met us at the airport. We held each other and, in that moment, four became three became one. — Brian Justice

On the Same Spice Scale

A good dash of paprika and chili. Perfect. My aloo mutter curry was ready. First time cooking a Gujarati dish for him. Cleaning up — and it struck me: Would he be able to tolerate the spice? I grew up immersed in spice. In his Romanian family, even a little ginger was spicy. Could I be with someone long-term who was on a different “spice scale”? He sat, oblivious to my dread. Dipped spoon, brought to lips. I held my breath. “It’s delicious,” he said. “I especially love the spice.” And that’s when I knew he was the one. — Isha Antani

Dakota’s Best Prom Date

I was Dakota’s prom date so long as he could not “find anyone better.” We are married now. I guess he couldn’t. — Megan Kline

From Ski Break to Full Break

That ski break was supposed to be the cinematic week we finally got together after 20 years in the friend zone. Only he hadn’t read the script. I should have realized when he invited someone else and asked, “Do you still want to come?” Or when I was injured and left alone as they got drunk. I finally faced the truth as the three of us sat on the couch watching television with them entwined. I left the next morning, taking a taxi down the mountain. They married two years later with a ski-themed cake. Tasteful. — Juliet Telford

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