Tag: Modern Love (Times Column)

Tiny Love Stories: ‘Brave Enough to Unearth What’s Buried’

Modern Love in miniature, featuring reader-submitted stories of no more than 100 words.

Only Looking at You

We met in the South at a Starbucks, where I made Hannah an iced tea. Trained to be friendly, I asked her questions. We started dating before I graduated high school. Just two young women from poor Alabamian families, figuring it out. It’s hard being gay in the Bible Belt, but you don’t notice peoples’ stares when you’re only looking at each other. Four years later, her mother and my parents didn’t attend our wedding. We didn’t care. We drank champagne and went to the local gay bar after, where we found peace, surrounded by queens and real family. — Patricia West

Together at my senior homecoming. I’m on the right. (I didn’t know how to tie a tie yet.)
Together at my senior homecoming. I’m on the right. (I didn’t know how to tie a tie yet.)

Another Way to Say …

Every few days, my grandmother, Popo, sends me emojis: cows, camels, suns or blueberries. Sometimes they’re accompanied by a confusing, punctuation-less string of words, but they often come alone. Our language barrier — her Chinese and my English — is compounded by Popo’s macular degeneration, which makes it hard for her to see the letters and periods on her iPad. But her emojis reverberate with meaning, even if she can’t tell what they depict. When I receive one, I hear, “I’m thinking about you.” I respond with aliens, cupcakes and flags — another way of saying, “I love you.”— Katriona Page

A typical conversation between me and Popo.

Air It Out

I grew up near woods and a neighbor named Al who wore his pet boa constrictor on his shoulders. When the snake died, Al buried it in a giant cooler in his backyard. My mother, who hated “serpents” (her term), eyed that spot for years. The morning after my mother’s 58th birthday, my father told my mother, “Took care of the snake.” Married for 35 years, my parents have always aired their issues. What my father did with the snake is a mystery. Marital bliss, I think, is not, so long as you pay attention and be brave enough to unearth what’s buried. — Shannon Palmer

My parents.

What Lasted of Our Love

After George Floyd’s murder, I and other lawyers in rural Southern Oregon formed a weekly Zoom group, intent on dismantling racism in our local schools and police force. Our leader had a sharp mind and an empathetic heart. We fell in love quickly. He, a marathoner, encouraged me to finish a half marathon. I, a working single mother of four children, became human again, buoyed by his laugh and sweet touch. Dating during a pandemic took its toll, with remote schooling, exposures and quarantines. Though our love didn’t last, our projects to make the world a better place did. — Laura Lindley-Gutierrez

A Black Lives Matter memorial in Ashland, Ore.

See more Tiny Love Stories at nytimes.com/modernlove. Submit yours at nytimes.com/tinylovestories.

Want more from Modern Love? Watch the TV series; sign up for the newsletter; or listen to the podcast on iTunes, Spotify or Google Play. We also have swag at the NYT Store and two books, “Modern Love: True Stories of Love, Loss, and Redemption” and “Tiny Love Stories: True Tales of Love in 100 Words or Less.”

Tiny Love Stories: ‘Never Forget Me’

Modern Love in miniature, featuring reader-submitted stories of no more than 100 words.

Marching in Solidarity

Black ink streaked Renny’s soggy poster, blurring the letters in “Black Lives Matter.” After a period of distance, we had reunited in his condo, making posters on top of the bed we used to share. It was raining that day in Toronto. Hundreds of feet sloshed in the puddles on Yonge Street. People chanted, “No justice, no peace.” Renny chanted with me. He will never understand what it is like to live in my skin. But that day, for that protest, he marched next to me. He marched for me. — Daniel Reale-Chin

Selfie with Renny.
Selfie with Renny.

All It Takes Is a Little Pop

When my mother walks, her left foot makes a popping sound. Every step is audible. It’s always been like that. She doesn’t know why or particularly mind. For me, the sound is like a ticking clock; my brain mostly tunes it out. But I’ve noticed it more since the pandemic started. What I’ve grown to love most about her popping foot is that it never stops. Pop, making dinner. Pop, walking the dogs. Pop, dancing in the kitchen. It never stops and she never stops. All it takes is hearing that pop to remember and appreciate all my mother does. — Connor Buckmaster

My mother and our dog, Leo.

Happy Loser

Sofia and I spent the summer of 2011 together — hearing the Creole Choir of Cuba, walking through History Park in San Jose, Calif., eating ceviche. I kept wondering: Are we good friends, or are we dating? I got my answer in a kiss. A year later, Sofia proposed. I didn’t say yes. I said, “What’s the point? It’s never going to be federally legal in the U.S.” We bet $5. In 2013, the Supreme Court granted federal recognition of same-sex marriages. “I guess I have to marry you,” I said. “Yes,” she said, “and you owe me $5.” — Andrea Temkin

Me and Sofia, on the left, on our wedding day.

Left to Be Found

She left me on a busy Hong Kong stairwell, not to die but to be found. It would take decades for me to receive her only message. Until then, I knew her as “a prostitute, uneducated, uncaring.” At least, that’s what my adoptive American mother said, ashamed and angry about her infertility. To learn the truth, it seemed, I’d have to be dying. The night before my breast cancer surgery at age 30, my adoptive mother finally showed me my biological mother’s words, notable for their elegant, intelligent Chinese script: “Never forget me; I will never forget you.” — Yvonne Liu

One of the adoption agency’s photos of me.

See more Tiny Love Stories at nytimes.com/modernlove. Submit yours at nytimes.com/tinylovestories.

Want more from Modern Love? Watch the TV series; sign up for the newsletter; or listen to the podcast on iTunes, Spotify or Google Play. We also have swag at the NYT Store and two books, “Modern Love: True Stories of Love, Loss, and Redemption” and “Tiny Love Stories: True Tales of Love in 100 Words or Less.”

Tiny Love Stories: ‘Two Days Later, He Moved Into My Loft’

Modern Love in miniature, featuring reader-submitted stories of no more than 100 words.

Ready to Hug Me

Orphaned at 13, I thought about how I would never again play basketball with my father or talk about crushes on girls with my mother. But even then, living with my grandparents, I didn’t feel those expected activities were suitable for me. As time passed, I discovered who I really am but kept it secret. One family lunch in the Philippines, my aunt casually asked me when I would get a girlfriend in front of my grandfather. I bowed my head in shame. Surprisingly, he was all smiles and ready to hug me. His gay grandson is free, finally. — John Lorenz Santos

A pre-pandemic portrait taken in the Philippines.
A pre-pandemic portrait taken in the Philippines.PJ Macagaling

Pheromones and Fusion

I am a potter, mucking around in mud for work. At craft fairs, I rake in cash and meet men who like to shop. Once, this guy with a kind face hung around my booth, picking up each of my pots as if they were newborn babies. I learned he was a physics fanatic. Pottery pheromones buzzed between us. Two days later, he moved into my loft. Together, we’ve raised three babies. The pheromones have dwindled over the years, but Einstein might say this love is fusion, a binding so intense that it releases tremendous energy as two become one. — Judith Stiles

Mucking around as always.

Now Sharing Clothes

While adjusting to new realities in March 2020, my spouse of 15 years began her gender transition. I wasn’t sure how to feel, how to share being Mom (she’s Mum), if I liked her new name (CJ), how to be romantic, how to desire, how to understand my own sexuality. After hormone therapy and a public announcement, CJ is still my person, still the one I love to pieces. It’s been an interesting road, especially when she steals from my side of the closet, but I can only imagine walking it with her true, happier self by my side. — Meg Ward

Celebrating my 42nd birthday. CJ is on the right.

“Love, Dan”

“I love you. Love, Dan,” read the crumpled note on my first-grade desk, placed next to the ring Danny stole from his grandmother. In rural Illinois, I was the “chubby” shy girl. Danny was the popular “class clown” who performed for my smile. He loved me before — and after — my mother took me to Lynn’s Fit ‘n’ Trim to lose weight. Love letters blossomed into junior-high dates. But a plane accident ended Danny’s life at age 12. I spent my 13th birthday attending his wake. Twenty-five years later, I hold his grandmother’s ring close and remember him. — Ashley Jordan

A picture of Danny on his first day of seventh grade, one of the last photos taken of him. 

See more Tiny Love Stories at nytimes.com/modernlove. Submit yours at nytimes.com/tinylovestories.

Want more from Modern Love? Watch the TV series; sign up for the newsletter; or listen to the podcast on iTunes, Spotify or Google Play. We also have swag at the NYT Store and two books, “Modern Love: True Stories of Love, Loss, and Redemption” and “Tiny Love Stories: True Tales of Love in 100 Words or Less.”

Tiny Love Stories: ‘I Was Right. Love Can Never Be Compared.’

Modern Love in miniature, featuring reader-submitted stories of no more than 100 words.

Sometimes You Have to Say It Twice

“I’m so happy to be here with you,” Ugonna said, looking at me. I was stunned. After months apart during the pandemic, my best college friend and I had finally reunited. Sitting across from each other, eating comforting falafels as the cicadas chirped, Ugonna said it again, even more enthusiastically. I remember how easily I used to express my appreciation to friends at recess or to my mother pushing me in her grocery cart. When did I stop telling people I was so happy to be with them? “I’m so happy to be here with you too,” I said. — Khue Tran

Selfie during our pre-pandemic New York City adventure.
Selfie during our pre-pandemic New York City adventure.

Sweet Release

When our relationship ended, all I had left of him was his generic Metamucil, forgotten in my pantry. Dejected but still hopeful, I saved it for weeks. Curious, I finally tried it, the orange potion of his bedtime ritual. I waited for change — the gut and the brain, I’ve read, are linked — but nothing. Then I realized: My body had already been steady; I wasn’t blocked. Perhaps I didn’t need him or the magical health fiber in my life. Perhaps I already possessed the ability to release myself from pain, from heartache. — Justin Quarry

The Metamucil container turned out to be compostable. I used it in my garden.

Jingling Us Out of Trouble

My sister, mother and I were driving with “Gam,” our surrogate grandmother, when our 1990 Accord conked out at an intersection in Santa Ana. Seven years old, I sat crying in the back seat, thinking, “We’re going to die right here!” As I thanked God for my great, albeit short, life, Gam got out and began directing traffic. She made huge sweeping motions, the giant bangles on her wrist jingling with joy. “I’ll take care of you, kids. We’ve got this!” That’s how it always was with Gam. Our guardian angel, ready to save us from any and all dangers. — Annika Olson

An old photo of Gam. 

Addition, Not Competition

I ached for my Robert, the brilliant mathematician, the artist who made poetry with his camera lens. We used to say we were too in love to sleep. I missed our nights awake. After Robert was severely brain damaged in a cycling accident, I thought I would never find a love that compared to ours. And I was right. Love can never be compared. Exactly a year and day later, Ryan arrived at the grocery store, filling my life with light. Ryan knows I will always love my Robert and care for the Robert who survived. He loves me more for it. — Emily Dawson

Selfie with Ryan.

See more Tiny Love Stories at nytimes.com/modernlove. Submit yours at nytimes.com/tinylovestories.

Want more from Modern Love? Watch the TV series; sign up for the newsletter; or listen to the podcast on iTunes, Spotify or Google Play. We also have swag at the NYT Store and two books, “Modern Love: True Stories of Love, Loss, and Redemption” and “Tiny Love Stories: True Tales of Love in 100 Words or Less.”

Tiny Love Stories: ‘Sex Is Our Antidote to Loss’

Modern Love in miniature, featuring reader-submitted stories of no more than 100 words.

Holding On

Thursday mornings: Clear our schedules, send the kids off to school. Clutching espressos, tiptoe upstairs to make out like teenagers eluding the chaperone. Forget your cancer scare. Forget how I was widowed by a suicide before you appeared. Sex is our antidote to loss. We take our time. But in the pandemic? No longer. Teenagers fill the house, flung across chairs, splayed on sofas, Zooming — all day. And nighttime? Sleep is sexier than sex. Until school resumes. You touch my face. We lock eyes, holding on, like survivors do, attuned to moments that make days, never wanting to let go. — Rachel Zimmerman

Privacy was hard to find during the pandemic.
Privacy was hard to find during the pandemic.

Just Three Miles

Sandy was a straight transgender woman from the Bronx. I am a gay, cisgender woman from Manhattan. Just three miles apart, we lived in different worlds. We met at the methadone clinic where I was her doctor. Every week for six months, we treated her hepatitis. Though feverish and weak, she was cured. But within a year, Sandy discovered she had advanced lymphoma. On her deathbed, she told me that she loved me. I had felt the trust grow between us in my small office, but I had no idea about her feelings. Eleven years later, I still miss her.— Melissa Stein

My stethoscope and two Mass cards, one from Sandy’s funeral.

Where I Belong

Born in South Korea, I was adopted at birth by a white military family stationed at Kwangju Air Base. Having my own children has been a profound experience. They are the only biologically related family I’ve ever known. Throughout my life, I’ve struggled to figure out where I culturally belong. The struggle feels even more complex as a mother: How do I pass on the very part of me that is most foreign to myself? Without a map, my family and I experiment. At my son’s Baek-il, a Korean celebration of a child’s 100th day of life, I felt at home. — Lani Longacre

Me and Quentin at his Baek-il.

When a Lie Leads to Love

My boyfriend signed us up for a dating app under the guise of swinging while staying partnered. He managed my account and swiped through men for me. My boyfriend arranged a meeting with Won for strictly casual sex. Won shared stories of his past polyamorous partnerships and expressed a deep affinity for honesty. We didn’t have sex that night, but I did break up with my boyfriend a week later, after learning that he had been cheating on me when we were monogamous. Now, Won and I are still in an open relationship — this time, without secrets, just satisfaction. — Lauren Bernales

Selfie of me and Won last summer.

See more Tiny Love Stories at nytimes.com/modernlove. Submit yours at nytimes.com/tinylovestories.

Want more from Modern Love? Watch the TV series; sign up for the newsletter; or listen to the podcast on iTunes, Spotify or Google Play. We also have swag at the NYT Store and two books, “Modern Love: True Stories of Love, Loss, and Redemption” and “Tiny Love Stories: True Tales of Love in 100 Words or Less.”

Tiny Love Stories: ‘Nothing My Husband Did Helped’

Modern Love in miniature, featuring reader-submitted stories of no more than 100 words.

Ella and Venus

The closest thing my daughter, Ella, could get to a pandemic pet was a Venus flytrap (named Venus). Ella won a scholarship to boarding school and left last August. I lit candles for Venus and collected rainwater for her. Taking care of Ella’s fragile plant was as close as I could get to taking care of her. In the winter I thought Venus was dead. No, just dormant. I moved her to a cooler place and waited for spring. And then, a slender stem! A mouth and even teeth coming soon. Who said these girls are fragile? — Sharon Harrigan

Venus in all her glory.
Venus in all her glory.

My Daily Walk

My sister and I weren’t close growing up. The oldest of seven, Barbara was bookish, while I, the second oldest, couldn’t sit still — always playing hopscotch and tag outside our Bronx apartment. When Barbara left for Bennington College, the elder-sibling responsibilities fell on me. To escape, I started visiting her in Vermont. Suddenly in a less diverse environment, Barbara missed me. Thus began our very intimate relationship that spanned 50 years. Cancer took her last April. One thing we loved to do together was walk. Now when I take my daily walk, I feel her presence. — Beverly Abercrombie

My arms are around Barbara in this picture, taken in the late ’80s.

When Nothing Else Helps

It was all too much. Another semester, no progress on my dissertation, three jobs, endless exams to grade, and my only son had forgotten my birthday — again. I curled on the couch and cried fat, self-absorbed tears. When nothing my husband did helped — no begging, soothing or promising my favorite foods — he put his forehead against mine and wept with me. By joining me in my desolation, he made me feel less desolate. — Renee Goethe

My husband Davey in Colorado.

Our Happiness

Early on, lying in bed after moving into our Manhattan apartment, I asked Mary, “Do you think we’ll be this happy in 20 years?” I had barely finished the question when she blurted, “No.” We laughed, but I knew she would always be my person, and I hers. As we approach 20 years, I sit in our bed, now in Brooklyn, and consider our happiness. We’ve lived through deaths of parents, sperm donor selections, births of children, emotional distance, crankiness, counseling and menopause. We remain “Mary and Robin” — each other’s person, savoring a deeper and different happiness. — Robin Hopkins

Our family. Mary is in the middle.

See more Tiny Love Stories at nytimes.com/modernlove. Submit yours at nytimes.com/tinylovestories.

Want more from Modern Love? Watch the TV series; sign up for the newsletter; or listen to the podcast on iTunes, Spotify or Google Play. We also have swag at the NYT Store and two books, “Modern Love: True Stories of Love, Loss, and Redemption” and “Tiny Love Stories: True Tales of Love in 100 Words or Less.”