Love is All Around Us

by Elizabeth McGinn on February 11, 2021

Creative Non-Fiction

two cartoon elephants holding heart balloons
photo courtesy of

by Anna Pomeroy ’23

Valentine’s Day is kind of an odd day. You see, it’s hard to celebrate a day of being in love when you aren’t with anyone. And while the constant reminders of sappy love notes scrawled across cards and rose petals fallen behind the path of lovebirds walking becomes excessive, I can’t help but acknowledge the true meaning behind this holiday. It’s not about admitting that you are in love, but that you have the experience of love within and around your own being. Just because I am not currently with someone does not mean that I do not recognize love. I love my family, my friends—more specifically my friends’ smiles, their ability to belt out songs together in the car without judgement, their warm hugs, and how I can just give them a look across the room and we’ll burst out laughing. In terms of my family, their love shines down on me through their reassuring words. Moreover, I’ll always remember the small gestures. Like how my parents would always show up to every game of mine when I was a child—even my grandparents would somehow make it—and when they’d sit through the two-hour long dance recitals in which I was only present for a single number. These qualities stand as reminders that Valentine’s Day is not about who you are in love with, but how you express your love and experience it throughout life. Even without a significant other on this special day, the stars will still shine at night and the flowers will still bloom. The natural beauties of life will continue. Let’s not allow this day to define how someone can celebrate love entirely.

Portfolio’s Dating Profiles

by Elizabeth McGinn on February 11, 2021


Swipe right or left graphic
Graphic design by Sarah McLaughlin ’23

I love waking up every morning to the FriarAlert Daily Screening emails, but I’d rather wake up with you 😉



Real good with a Q-tip. 

-24 Self-administered COVID Tests


Consistently testing negative but I have a positive attitude and a dog. I’m also tall, if that helps.

-The Swab Master


I love iced coffee, all things pink and orange, and whipped cream. Hit me up if you like your coffee tall, dark, and sweet 😉



Big nose, bigger heart. I like my men the way I like my beer: cold, bitter, and headless. 

-Just a Widow, Baby


If this doesn’t go well, I will probably write a poem about you.

-Wannabe Poet in Need of Content


I used to root for the Knicks, but now I’m ready to settle down and get that ring.

-Committed Carl


Basic girl looking for a basic guy. Gotta be able to play catch, so I can catch these feelings for you.

-2 good 4 you 


Looking for someone to fill my lonely nights now that Dot is gone.

-Ray the Romantic


Ardently searching for a woman who is tolerable but not handsome enough to tempt me.

-Bachelor with a Considerable Means and Estate


Looking for someone to recite lines from Step Brothers with me.



Looking for someone who can keep up with my craziness and who can eat a whole pizza with me.



Do you like bad girls? ’Cause I’m bad at everything 🙂

-The Least Talented Person You’ll Ever Meet

Friartire: Touch-Starved

by Elizabeth McGinn on February 11, 2021


woman hugging herself
photo courtesy of

by Future Cat Lady

It has been 257 days since I last felt the touch of another human being. I am not sure how much longer I can withstand this. My army of Pillow Pets that I sleep next to every night no longer brings me joy, but is a constant reminder of my ever-increasing loneliness.


Yesterday, I watched Pride and Prejudice and nearly sobbed at the scene in which Mr. Darcy helps Elizabeth out of the carriage. I was so affected by their brief touch that I watched HandHoldHub for four hours straight. Oh, how I yearn to grasp another’s hand, feel the grooves of their fingertips, the pulse lightly beating in their thumb! I was haunted by images of hand-holding throughout the night, and I could have sworn that when I awoke, I felt the comforting presence of a hand in mine. Alas, it was my bumble bee Pillow Pet. 


Next week I have my annual checkup, and I am counting down the moments to it. I keep picturing the cold stethoscope next to my chest. My heart palpitates at the very thought. I wonder if my doctor has been feeling the same way, or if I will need to disguise my trembling.


Maybe I should get a cat.


Tiff and Earl

by Elizabeth McGinn on February 11, 2021


Dear Tiff & Earl,

It’s me again. Turns out we’re both positive—positively lovesick. We’re quarantined in the Marriott together, and his room is right beside mine. The walls are paper-thin. Tensions are growing—and so is my COVID viral load. Should I learn Morse code to communicate my desires?

Caught Feelings (and COVID)

Dear Catchy Feely,

Just remember that you’re feverish for reasons other than your feelings for this guy. If you want to try learning Morse code, then go for it, but there might be slightly less cryptic ways of going about it. If the walls are paper-thin, you might as well go all in and have a full-on conversation. Keep it light and play on the fact that you’re sharing a common experience. If you profess your love too soon, you could risk scaring the COVID out of him and lose him to the outside world. Use your time in isolation to plan carefully. Maybe even recite some Romeo and Juliet “for Civ” if you’re feeling daring.

Avoiding contactly,

Dear Caught Feelings,

Happy to hear things are progressing between you two! While Morse code may sound romantic, I recommend literally not even talking to him. He’s not worth it, queen. Rest up, eat the Sodexo food, stay COVID-free, and get back to campus as soon as you can. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Definitely not hurt beforably,


Listomania: Reasons You Will Not Have a Second Date

by Elizabeth McGinn on February 11, 2021


Forgot to wipe

Didn’t show up

Brought your mom as a chaperone

Talked about your 12 cats

Mentioned the spider that whispers sweet nothings into your ear

Confessed your love for Father Shanley

Knew too much personal information

Asked for their banner ID instead of their phone number

Communicated solely via PC Mobile

Thought they resembled Mitch McConnell

Said they smell like your mom

Brought your date home to your Lightning McQueen race car bed

Ordered off the kid’s menu

Dined and dashed

Ordered chocolate milk at the bar

Brought your guitar (and already wrote a song about them)

Said “I love you”

Asked them to be your entree à la Armie Hammer

Fluromance: Finding Love in the Midst of the Flu Outbreak

by Connor Zimmerman on February 14, 2020


A couple in coughing masks with a pink heart in the background
Photos courtesy of & Graphic Design by Sarah McLaughlin ’23

by Kate Ward ’23

“I got you a present.” His voice was muffled, one hand pressed against the glass, the other behind his back. 

I took off my mask and looked at him intently. “If it’s another mask I’m going to be mad.” I laughed a little. It had been sixteen years since the initial outbreak of the flu and nearly every house on the street had been ordered to put glass around the perimeter of the property. My next-door neighbor Michael and I had become infected at relatively the same time. I caught it first after being hospitalized for a nasty case of the flu. I got out right before Valentine’s Day, and that was when we went on a date. I kissed him, things advanced, and two weeks later he was sick. Let me tell you, fostering romance while sick is an entirely new challenge within itself. I watched through the glass as he took a box out from behind him; it was one of those heart-shaped chocolate boxes. 

“You do know that there’s no way for me to get those, right?” I laughed a little.

“Yes, I do know that, so I’m just going to show them to you.” He chuckled. “No, I’m kidding, I’m going to find a way to give them to you. Here, back up.” 

I took a few steps away from the glass and looked up at where the small air hole was. The air hole was something that the government had decided to put in the ceiling of the glass to make sure we had some way of getting fresh air without spreading the disease. Michael stepped back and then began to run at the glass, jumping and hurling the box through his air hole and into mine. I watched as the chocolate box fell open, pill bottles tumbling out from the inside. 

Gasping as a few clattered onto my head, I whirled to look at him.“Are you kidding me, Michael?”

He was doubled over, laughing loudly as he watched the expression on my face change from shock and horror to anger. 

“What? Come on, I thought it was funny! Why can’t I make jokes about our sickness, huh?” he asked, pressing his hands up to the glass. 

“You think this,” I held up a prescription bottle and flung it at the glass, “is funny?! Do you think this is a proper Valentine’s gift?” I cried. 

“Look inside the bottles,” he said, now more serious.

I shook my head and bent down, picking up one of the orange bottles, unscrewing the cap. Inside there were three tightly rolled pieces of paper. 

“They’re letters,” Michael explained as I went around and collected the rest of the bottles, some already broken open. 

I was quiet for a moment, trying to find the words and the courage to say what I wanted to say. I opened one letter and glanced over it. “This is from our first date.” I picked up another. “And this is from our last.” I looked at him. He nodded and smiled sheepishly. 

“I thought it was a nice idea, I don’t know, maybe it’s stupid,” Michael murmured, his breath fogging up the glass.

“No! No, it isn’t a stupid idea, I mean, at least you got me something. Last Valentine’s Day all I got you was sick with this virus.” I tried to lighten the mood.

Michael chuckled. “And I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

The slightly dark and oddly cute sentence caught me off guard. This man was willing to be trapped in a glass cage for the remainder of his life if it meant seeing me each day. 

“I don’t deserve you,” I whispered.

“You’re going to have to speak up; the glass is thick,” he said, pointing to his ears for further clarification.

“I—never mind.” I shook my head. “It was a stupid thought!” Stupid to bring something like that up on a day like today. 

Michael waited patiently, looking at me in case I wanted to say something further. I shook my head again. “I don’t have anything to say, so quit looking at me like that, will you?”

“You know, I was thinking about, like… do you remember back in 2020 when people still used that term ship? I was thinking about our ship name.” He had this stupid yet adorable grin on his face. 

I lifted a brow. “Oh? What might that be?”

He wrung his hands. “I don’t know if I should tell you judging by your reaction to the gift.”

“You can’t just bring it up and not say it!” I cried, pointing at him. 

He put his hands up in surrender, our eyes locking as I watched him try to figure out his next move. “Our ship name isn’t a joining of our names but more like our current… predicament. It’s Fluromance.” Michael grinned. 

I sighed. Flu Romance, of course he would think of something that stupid yet somewhat witty. 

Jagged Love

by Connor Zimmerman on February 14, 2020


by Connor Zimmerman ’20

Is it bad that I can feel the echoes of your sorrow coming off of you, as I glide over the scars on your arm? Is it bad that I can touch your distress as my fingers run through your hair? Is it bad that I can sense your anguish pulsing through your heart as our bodies become closer? Is it bad that I taste your regret as our lips slowly meet?

You are beautiful not in spite of all this…but


You have been cut, broken, and hurt…just like I have. You have a past that makes you want to scream and run…just like I want to do. You wear your feelings, the good, bad, and everything in between…just like I do. Your edges are jagged and rough…just like mine are.

You are beautiful not in spite of all this…but because


One of your exes fell in love with another girl, and even though he was honest he split your heart into two. Another once made you feel like you were less than you truly are, and while it eventually ended, your heart broke into four pieces. The next one said that you didn’t have any love left to give, and his words smashed the pieces of your heart into eight fragments.

You are beautiful not in spite of all this…but because of


Even with everything that you have been through, you still see past my flaws. You have taught me to feel again when I did not know if that was possible. You make me smile and laugh even when I believe the world is going to end. You listen to the songs, watch the movies, and read the books I like because you want to know more about me. You still have love to give, more than anyone I know.

You are beautiful not in spite of all this but because of it.


A heart split in half with jagged edges
Photo courtesy of

The Last Two

by Connor Zimmerman on February 14, 2020


by Jay Willett ’20

“Cheers,” she raised her wine glass, “to being single on this lovely Valentine’s Day!” We clinked and took our first sips of the red wine I bought for seven bucks at Shaw’s. She wrinkled her nose and gasped.

“That’s bitter!”

“Wine can’t be bitter.” I grinned.

“Well, it is!”

I nodded my head as I drank, catching her doubtful glance that I was enjoying the beverage. It’s true I was bluffing, and after a couple more, I couldn’t stop myself.

“ACK!” I coughed into my sleeve. She folded her arms in self-proclaimed victory. Laughter echoed from upstairs. Noise of the city filtered through cracks in the drywall. It was muzzled but audible to hear the couples dancing and kissing in the streets. She tugged at the front strands of her hair. I stamped the  heel of my foot on the felt carpet. There was no avoiding it; the aroma of love had breached our walls of singularity. Our safe space for honest discussion and unrelenting cynicism had been invaded by the enamored. They took the stage while we fell silent.

a glass of red wine
Photo courtesy of

“It’s not fair, you know,” she whispered.


“I don’t know.” She fiddled with her necklace. “Like, that we are here, and people expect us to be sad and lonely tonight.”

“Hm,” was all I could respond with.

“…But I’m not­—I’m here, drinking with you. And I’m happy!”


“I am—I’m—” Tears rolled down her flushed cheeks. I raised my glass.

“Hey­—cheers.” We clinked for a second time. She laughed as I spat out my wine.

Falling Without Gravity

by Connor Zimmerman on February 14, 2020


A heartbeat scan that ends in a heart
Photo courtesy of

by Clara Howard ’20

“Hellooo, earth to Marina?”

Marina blinked, the fog of memories and laughter lifting at the voice of the attending on-call and the surrounding sounds of the hospital. “What?”

Dr. Li frowned at her. “Are you okay? That’s the third time you’ve spaced out on me this shift.”

Marina shook her head and shoulders, the way a bird might settle its wings after a long flight. “Sorry, I’m fine. Just have a lot on my mind today.”

“Did you want to talk about it?”

“Not really,” she replied, smiling a little tightly. “Well, not right now, at any rate.”

Dr. Li nodded and leaned forward, resting his forearms on the counter of the nurses’ station. The new position brought his face closer to where Marina’s head was bent over a pile of charts she was supposed to be reviewing. “So, what do you want to talk about, then?” He asked, his voice quieter.

Marina rolled her eyes, a small smile playing with the edges of her mouth. “I don’t really have anything that I want to talk about right now,” she responded, her voice just as low.

“Really, absolutely nothing?”

“Not that I can think of.”

“No special plans for the weekend?”

She shrugged, the smile growing wider with the exchange. “Not really.” She glanced up at him then, struggling not to laugh at the way his eyes sparked with mock outrage.

His eyes widened as he gaped at her. “You wound me, Marina Blair,” he whispered, the mirth in his eyes belying his words.

Marina did a subtle sweep of the space around them before leaning in closer to Dr. Li, making as if she were about to divulge a secret. “Good thing you’re a doctor, then, and can patch yourself up,” she whispered back.

He burst out laughing, clapping a hand over his mouth as his shoulders shook. Marina sat back, her grin turning smug as she watched him. He shook his head and matched her gaze. “So little sympathy for the injured, Nurse Blair?”

“Only when the injured is you, Dr. Li,” she quipped, even daring to shoot him a wink.

“Sounds like someone needs to help you work on those bedside manners.”

“Oh really?” Her dimples came out in full force and she leaned forward again. “And I suppose you’re offering to be that someone?”

His deep brown eyes seemed to smolder with heated promises as he looked at her. “I suppose that I am.”

Her smile turned slow, curling at the corners like a cat in front of a fire. “Then I suppose—”

“Marina, have you seen the chart for the patient in room 207?” Nurse Jenkins interrupted, her nose buried in a bunch of files as she turned the corner and walked up to the nurses’ station. She looked up to see Dr. Li straightening the pile of charts in front of him and Marina searching for a pen. She decided not to comment on the blushes staining their cheeks.

14 Ways to Say I Love You

by Connor Zimmerman on February 14, 2020


by Jessica Polanco ’21

Candy hearts with sayings on them that say, "Love You," "Kiss Me," "Shut Up," and "Stay Away."
Photo courtesy of & Graphic design by Connor Zimmerman ’20

I love you.
I hate you.

I want to hear your voice.
Shut up.

Hug me.
Don’t touch me.

Come over.
Stay away.

Kiss me.
Don’t kiss me.

We make a good team.
I’m better without you.

I miss you.
Leave me alone.