In December 2020, my boyfriend and I hiked Kranzhorn, a mountain that divides Austria and Germany. As we climbed, the snow drifts thickened. We were surprised to see a fit middle-aged man bike past us alone. When we reached the summit, we saw him again — this time, with a woman. On our way down, the biker, now alone, passed us one more time. We asked about the woman. He lived on the German side of the border and she on the Austrian. Even in the strictest of times, they had found a way to meet. — Valerie Levine

Both photographers in Birmingham, Ala., Anna and I recognized each other at our children’s ballet lessons. While our little ones learned how to hold first position, we learned how to hold space for one another. I shared my struggles with binge eating and gastric sleeve surgery. Anna shared her marriage troubles. “We’re getting a divorce,” she said one day. “I’m gay.” Anna came out as a teenager only to retreat years later. To be accepted, she had conformed to a heterosexual life. But at 29, my dear friend found the only acceptance she ever needed — her own. — Alisha Crossley


The Bible says to “love thy neighbor,” but I took that advice too far, dating a man from down the street before we mutually ghosted each other. (During a Canadian winter, we mistakenly prized the convenience of proximity over compatibility.) Now, almost every time I get gas at our local station, I look up

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