People share what they’ve endured in the name of love.

Photo by Kai Dahms on Unsplash

It was 103º in July and I was driving 300 miles to the mountains to visit the snowboarding upstart with the smoldering gaze I’d met on the slopes a few months earlier. My heart was a restless puppy.

Forty miles into my drive, my 20-year-old Corolla’s temperature gauge was in the red, dangerously close to overheating. But I wasn’t going to be stopped. …

Valentine’s Day is like Thanksgiving with less tryptophan and more schmaltz.

From Gunmetal Geisha

It’s the day TV commercials try to tell women they aren’t loved unless they receive diamonds. You must not be loved either, mister, if she isn’t in heels clipping garters to a doily passing for underwear. Mainstream culture and the media herd the willing to fields of perceived deficit. They collude to make us feel obligated toward someone or like crap because no one feels obligated toward us. Obligation makes so much money for other people.

And what of those cardboard babies with stunted wings and sadistic arrows pointing all over the place? The onset of romantic love and its…

When you have freedom, you don’t think about its fragility and the nurturing it requires.

On the airplane, they sprayed us. Up and down the aisle walked the French flight attendants, releasing a spray over Iranian passengers as if we were livestock whose Tehran germs weren’t allowed in Paris. It’s reasonable to assume that wasn’t how they meant it, but with no previous warning and no announcement, that’s precisely how it felt while flying from Iran to France for the connecting flight back to America. At no point did we learn what was the substance — diluted rubbing alcohol? some terrifying chemical? — or to what protocol it adhered. It was the mid-‘90s and the…

The lifelong addiction to love

Spilled red wine into the shape of a heart
Spilled red wine into the shape of a heart

I once had a little burgundy room that required seven coats of the color when I painted the walls. On the floor lay deep red hand-woven rugs, silk purple cushions and Moroccan tables. I called it the Opium Room. In it, my writing desk sat between two windows that overlooked a heart-tugging Tuscan setting in the Hollywood Hills.

A grayed-out day came when rain poured relentlessly to drain the trees and hill houses of color. But my poppy room was a pulse of blood encased in glass, hovering over a watery world. …

Forget about plucking “They love me, they love me not…” flower petals. How does your love interest hold up against the “wild pig” test?

“I have a crush on you” in a red neon sign
“I have a crush on you” in a red neon sign
Courtesy of Leandro Sanches via Unsplash

At first I thought the condition was made up. The novel Enduring Love referred to erotomania by its other name, de Clérambault’s syndrome. It was so specific and strange, it had to be a fictional syndrome. In it, a man becomes fixated with another man after a passing glance, but in his fixation, he’s convinced that the second man, who lives with his girlfriend, reciprocates his love and communicates it through secrets signs.

Even the term “erotomania” sounded to me like a provisional replacement for the pseudo condition “nymphomania,” but with the advantage of including all genders when the female-specific…

A story of Rome, and an ode to one lover amid the resuscitation of another.

Head Exploding by Salvador Dalí
Head Exploding by Salvador Dalí
Head Exploding by Salvador Dalí

It’s summer of 1996. At twenty-seven, you are a child but don’t realize it. You go away on vacation. You go away to vacate your life, your job, your worries. You go to vacate yourself. But Italian anarchy turns your trip into the kind that keeps you inside your head, dealing with difficult baggage and train schedules and hotel reservations.

You’ve been to Rome time and time again. Rome is like a hidden-away dirty lover you obsess about while going through your proper daily motions. …

While excavating a memory for details, you might sit and wait for a flood of sensation relating to an incident. It’s a counterintuitive exercise if you’re inviting yourself to relive events you’ve had lifelong societal training to shrug off.

Unwanted sexual overtures befall girls by around age eleven and throughout womanhood. Until this era of reckoning, we’ve shrugged it off, calling ourselves ‘lucky’ on the occasions we escaped with our bodies relatively untouched but our psyches smudged with fingerprints of unwelcome persons.

Below is a who-what-where outline of some of my personal set of incidents that happen to women every…

Standing with a New York commuter crowd in front of the screen at Penn Station’s underground level, I wait for my train’s track number to appear on a strip of glowing purple representing my line. When I give up, I head to the one place with seats, a designated waiting room where you’re granted entry only with a train ticket. Next to me sits the husband half of a couple in their 60s with Long Island accents. The wife stands because there are no more seats. …

Hedia Anvar

Essay • Memoir • Opinion

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