Photo: Denise Ko

A few thousand miles away, my boyfriend is probably pulling himself out of the ocean water and onto a dock in the late afternoon sun. He’s probably using the last of his strength to unroll that heavy wetsuit from his shoulders and squinting at his phone to check the time. If it was a regular day, he would be looking for a text from me, letting him know whether or not he needed to pick up his son from school.

But today his son is at grandma’s and I am on a plane crossing the country.

So today, if I…

Wesley Pacífico

I absentmindedly scroll through their pictures on my phone, my Uber merging slowly onto the highway, colors and lights spinning past the window.

It’s not that I’m sad, I rationalize with myself, It’s just strange to see.

It’s strange to see a person you loved — or maybe loved — intertwined with their ‘forever human,’ their eyes, arms, even fingers buzzing with what can only be described as the real thing. It’s strange to see a shiny diamond ring, a promise that, even with four thousand miles and thirty-seven months of distance, still stings.

Her dress is bright blue, the…

Marisa Howenstine

The ambiance of my favorite coffee shop is louder than usual. I know, every time I walk through these garage-style doors, that there is an energy here I can’t replicate anywhere else. The buzz of voices, ice clinking in glasses, electronic music pulsing through the corner speakers — this is not a traditional spot. And that’s perhaps why I like it. My thoughts run faster here, as fast as the beat. I feel alive here, ready to write, to empty my mind, to let every thought flow.

I should be happy — to release, to not have any responsibilities. I…

Tamara Menzi

“I’m a planner,” I say. The voice leaving my lips sounds more like a resolution than a declaration of fact. All my life I’ve worked to be the type of person who has it all together, checked the little boxes, walked forward with her head high. I’ve always taken pride in knowing, without a doubt, where I was going. I always, always had a plan.

Until I didn’t.

Until I realized the man I thought I’d spent forever with wasn’t actually the one. Until I realized I wanted nothing but the ocean salt on my skin, over the humid air…

Photo Credit: Hieu Vu Minh

In the back corner of my closet, nestled between the sweatshirt I wore for my last softball game and a bulky mint jacket that my friend embroidered my initials on, is my ex-boyfriend’s oversized hoodie.

This hoodie is grey, worn at the sleeves. The collar is ripped and drapes open slightly, just enough so that it feels comfortable, breathable. The letters on the front, albeit faded, read ‘Sequoias.’ This is the mascot of the community college where he went before he met me.

Before we bumped into one another on a thin gravel path, slick with sweat and the dirt…

Priscilla Du Preez

Love, in its essence, isn’t complicated. Although we’ve yet to truly define it, the concept is something that can’t really be understood, and shouldn’t. Love is felt, and yet it’s not just an emotion. It’s an action, too. You don’t just experience or even embody love — you become love. And you become it in making an active choice.

But love, at the core, isn’t difficult.

Love is as simple as holding hands with another person and realizing that you want all the crazy and messy moments of this life with them by your side. It’s looking into your baby’s…

Jonathan Borba

Ever since I was a little girl, I romanticized love. Blame the movies. Blame my fascination with the ‘Bonnie and Clyde’ characters in my chapter books. Blame my soft, mushy heart for always believing in something bigger than myself. I loved love. I was fascinated by it. And even as a young child, I craved it.

Growing up, I thought relationships were beautiful. I saw the connections around me and mirrored myself in the woman’s eyes, in her gestures, in her arm looped loosely over her man’s shoulders. I pictured myself years along the road, walking down an aisle towards…

Unsplash / Priscilla Du Preez

There is always something that can go wrong in a relationship. When you’re just starting out, it’s establishing boundaries and learning to trust. When a solid connection has been built, it’s other people moseying their way in. And when you’re in the midst of conflict, sometimes there’s doubt making you question whether or not what you’re doing is worth it.

Love isn’t easy. Yet we’ve been lied to about this truth. Take any movie or book — the characters somehow always find a way back to one another. …

Image Credit: John Schnobrich / Unsplash

At the end of the night, I fall into bed exhausted. I’ve pre-planned, and my boyfriend’s son’s snack for school tomorrow has already been packed. Tomorrow night’s dinner has already been made. The dishes are clean and the sink’s been wiped. Homework has been done, clothes have been set out, and everyone (including the dog) has been tucked into his or her respective beds.

My heart is full and tired. Tired from putting everyone else’s needs above mine. Tired from loving, tired from giving, tired from checking off every item on everyone else’s to-do list before my own.

My boyfriend…

Marisa Donnelly

Writer, editor, writing coach + teacher who’s passionate about words and helping people. Founder of Be A Light Collective. Bonus mom.

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