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Tiny Love Stories: ‘I Quietly, Foolishly Eloped’

I have a drawer full of magic. Serums, powders, creams, all promising to reverse time. Every day it takes me a bit longer to look how I think I should. My daughter, now 14, says she has no interest in “patriarchal standards of beauty.” I am at once glad and worried: glad she won’t be joining me on this Sisyphean road but worried she may be judged for her choice. I am also optimistic; perhaps someday I can walk away from my regimen. Until then, I am proud of my daughter for her confidence in opting out of my wishful thinking. — Jenny Fan Raj

It was a freezing spring day in Central Park, cold even for two Irish girls. We embellished our wedding dresses with $5 pashminas, hastily purchased in Chinatown. Angeline and I exchanged vows in New York in 2014, a year before same-sex marriage became legal in Ireland by a popular vote. To marry, we left behind our friends and family, the anchors and stars in our lives. It would just be us. No matter. Love can’t wait. And the warmth of our family and friends was offered from an adoring crowd of tourists. We felt the love then. Still do. — Elaine Westnott-O’Brien

I worried that our daughter, Sadie, just seven months old, would not recognize her father after his long deployment. So I wove him into her day, draping photographs of him inside her crib, video chatting with him as often as his work schedule and her nap routine allowed. Months later, at the airport the day of his return, I feared she wouldn’t let this distant man hold her. His plane landed. Our eyes met across the terminal. We raced to each other, my heart beating hard. Moments after we reunited, Sadie lunged from my hip into her father’s arms. — Peyton Roberts

When I was 20, I quietly, foolishly eloped. At 22, I saw a cute boy in the corner of a college Bible study, his hat pulled low over his glasses. I was still — unhappily, secretly — married, but I flirted with the boy. He was polite, nothing more. By 23, I had divorced, escaping a miserable future. I rediscovered my faith and the joy of a close friend group, including the boy in the hat. I flirted, feeling awkward. Then one night, while watching a movie, the boy put his arm around me. It’s been there for 15 years. — Jess Locke

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