Tagged Modern Love (Times Column)

Tiny Love Stories: ‘Like Looking Into a Mirror’

Modern Love

Tiny Love Stories: ‘Like Looking Into a Mirror’

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

Credit…Brian Rea
Dec. 29, 2020, 3:00 p.m. ET

Back in the Rhythm of Conversation

My 14-year-old, Vedant, dwells in a dungeon (i.e. basement) under my bedroom. Through the muffled cadence of his voice, I deduce if he’s in virtual school or playing an online game. Thrice a day, he comes up for air, asking, “What’s there to eat?” We used to talk a lot on our car rides, about life and feelings. Now we have nowhere to go. For the holidays, I make him my sous chef. Slicing a butternut squash, my knife slips. He takes my bleeding finger in his hand and blows a kiss. Food an excuse, we talk about feelings again. — Yogyata Singh Davé

Vedant showing off his creation: Wild rice, butternut squash and sprouts.
Vedant showing off his creation: Wild rice, butternut squash and sprouts.

Together But Miles Away

Because of the pandemic, John and I are thousands of miles apart and separated by borders that are indefinitely closed. On my weekend, he takes me on a trip to South Korea through Google Maps. We “stay” at the beautiful Hotel Shilla, where the daily rate costs more than my weekly food budget. We go on Street View to see the school John grew up attending and visit his favorite childhood haunts. We travel to different cities, my cursor dragging through streets and alleyways. John says, “I hope I can take you there for real one day.” — Erika Lee

Me and John during a recent video chat.

Seeing Myself Looking Back

Max and I first locked eyes across a classroom our sophomore year of high school, each sensing someone uncannily familiar staring back. We became fast friends, and suburban mischief ensued. We taught ourselves (and each other) a new, queer brand of masculinity, reveling in the freedom that comes from an instinctive mutual understanding. Then high school ended. She left for the military. I, for university. Differences that once felt small and sparse grew vast and plentiful. Yet, as we’ve come into our own, our paths realigned. Sometimes, it still feels like that first meeting, like looking into a mirror. — Kelsey Smoot

Max (on the right) and me recently, matching by sincere coincidence.

‘It’ll Heal’

On Jan. 3, in the emergency room with a broken femur, I realized my year had ended before it began. I had fallen 20 feet in a climbing accident in a gym in Atlanta. My hospital room was filled with my family, my partner, and fruit freshly cut by my mother. “It’ll heal,” said my surgeon. Twelve months, multiple quarantines and one healed femur later, I look 20 feet around me and still see my family, my partner and freshly cut fruit. I feel hopeful that next year will lead to further healing. — Melissa Zhu

Me and my fiancé with snacks and fruit delivered by my parents.

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: ‘My Lesbian Hallmark Christmas Film Fantasy’

Modern Love

Tiny Love Stories: ‘My Lesbian Hallmark Christmas Film Fantasy’

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

Credit…Brian Rea
Dec. 22, 2020, 3:00 p.m. ET

She Smelled of Pine

The first winter I saw snow was the first winter I fell in love. I’ve always adored the holidays, but growing up in Florida meant I never experienced the “White Christmas” dream. After moving to Dallas, I started dating a woman who worked on a Christmas tree lot across the street from my apartment. Marleana would come over, smelling of pine, her arms toned from all the lifting. She was my lesbian Hallmark Christmas film fantasy. She even owned a shiny red truck that we drove in to find snow. Her Christmas gift this year? An engagement ring. — Hannah Melin

Marleana, right, and me in Austin, Texas.
Marleana, right, and me in Austin, Texas.

I Finally Said It

In Kolkata, “I love you” is not said often, and certainly not to parents. It is considered over the top; translated into Bengali, it can sound mawkish. I improvise when I call my parents in India from my apartment in New York. “I wish I had your tenacity,” I tell my mother. I praise my father’s compassion. “Wish you were here” is the furthest I venture. Yesterday, when my mother said that she longed to see me and her voice faltered, I blurted out those three words. The heart grows fonder when parents are old and away, but a pandemic makes it bolder. — Satarupa Ghosh Roy

With my parents in New York City two years ago.

‘I Need to Get Over Someone’

I walked into the cramped East Village candle store. The man behind the counter asked what I needed. “I heard that you … help people,” I said. He rubbed his hands together like he was about to make his favorite meal. “I need to get over someone,” I said. He nodded and retrieved a black candle from a shelf: “I need your initials and his.” I watched as he carved my heartbreak into the wax. “Burn this for seven days. You’ll feel better.” On day seven, I met someone new. It was a brief, healing romance. I never looked back. — Felice Neals

A candle flame.

When Memory Is Music

“Who is that woman?” my father asks me, pointing to a framed photo on the wall. “She’s so beautiful it makes me cry.” The woman in the photo is my mother, Rosemary. They were married for 56 years before she passed away. They slept in the same bed until the end, holding hands every night as they drifted off to sleep. My father has Alzheimer’s. Some days he doesn’t know who she is; others he speaks as if she’s in the room, calling out over his shoulder, “Rose — ” as if memory is music only he can hear. — Amy Massingale

Rosemary Massingale, circa 1963. 

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: ‘Tears Start Before My Feet Stop’

Modern Love

Tiny Love Stories: ‘Tears Start Before My Feet Stop’

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

Credit…Brian Rea
Dec. 15, 2020, 3:42 p.m. ET

Out of Despair, Pure Pleasure

In 2017, on the way to our third family funeral in four weeks, our car died outside a Minnesota highway sex shop. I hopped around the parking lot to stay warm as my husband called the tow company. “We’re trying to get to a funeral,” he said. “Our car died outside of — Pure Pleasure.” He’s always resilient, but I worried about his spirits; this was another setback during a harsh year. His mother and stepmother texted, suggesting that his recently deceased father had pranked us. We smiled, joking about going inside the shop to “warm up,” but the tow arrived. — Laura Logsdon

Our dog, Bert, in the Pure Pleasure parking lot.
Our dog, Bert, in the Pure Pleasure parking lot.

Playing With Dolls

It was Los Angeles in the 1950s, and my mother was ahead of her time. After my older sister, Debbie, got a doll, I wanted one just like hers. Of course my mother said yes. My mother’s friend, June, came over. They sat at the kitchen table. I was within earshot, dressing my beloved doll, when June said, “Marian, boys shouldn’t play with dolls.” To which my mother responded, “If Danny wants to play with dolls, he can play with dolls.” My doll was dressed and ready for an outing, and my mother looked at me adoringly. — Daniel Nathanson

As a little boy with my mother.

Unexpected Intimacy

Running to stay strong, to fill time, to be connected to ground and air and the space between one breath in and another out. Sometimes running is meditative solitude, sometimes joyful: for me, and me alone! Sometimes the isolation is crushing. Tears start before my feet stop. An evening run, 10 months into weathering the pandemic on my own. Another runner and I fall in step. There’s no explicit acknowledgment or agreement. But for a quarter mile in Queens, we maintain our pace. Breathing heavy through masks. Moving in tandem until our paths diverge. Distant but close. — Paige Arthur

The quarter-mile stretch we shared in Ridgewood, Queens.

No Need for the Awkward Talk

On our first anniversary, my husband gave me a beautiful piece of raku pottery. I loved that pot with its iridescent glaze so much that he gave me another piece for my birthday. And another for Hanukkah. I thought about telling him that my pottery collection was complete. The next year he surprised me with a glass vase. I considered launching into the uncomfortable “I have enough breakable containers” talk but held my tongue. Six months later, he wrapped up my vase and gave it to his relative. I didn’t know whether to be angry or relieved. I chose relieved. — Ilene Haddad

Holding two breakable containers at our wedding in Santorini, Greece. 

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: ‘We Could Only See Each Other’s Eyes’

A Mint Lifesaver

After the funeral, I tidied the guest room for my mother, who was moving in temporarily while adjusting to life without my father. I was restless, believing I should have convinced him to see a doctor sooner. When I pulled a cloth along the closet shelf, a shower of mint Lifesavers rained down, left behind from my father’s last visit. An ex-smoker, he always kept his mouth busy. I unwrapped one, placing it, Communion-like, on my tongue. I wasn’t able to save my father’s life; the lung cancer was a wildfire. But as the Lifesaver dissolved, it cleansed me. — Julia Bruce

With my father circa 1977 on the boardwalk in Point Pleasant, N.J.
With my father circa 1977 on the boardwalk in Point Pleasant, N.J.

Within His Radius

Visiting my parents in Seattle, I expected my Tinder match with Jason to go like all the rest: warm hello, flirty banter, gradual trailing off. Back then, I traveled constantly for work, swiping everywhere, jaded but still looking despite myself. I returned home to Boston before Jason and I could meet. We communicated constantly. Discovering that neither of us had plans for Thanksgiving, we decided to meet somewhere between us (Nashville) and celebrate. We ate turkey and potatoes on our first date. One year married, Jason admits that he wasn’t looking for anyone outside of a five-mile radius. — Ian McKinley

At our wedding last year in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. Jason is on the right.

She’s Back in Our Bed

In 1998, I decided to get rid of my very 1980s-looking bachelor furniture. After posting on Craigslist, a gentleman came over with a tape measure. Everything would fit, including my king-size platform bed. He just needed run it by his girlfriend. The next day, the doorbell rang. When I opened the door, I saw the man and my ex-girlfriend from 20 years earlier. We shared our surprise, then moved on to the bedroom set. They said it was perfect. I said to my ex, “That was ours — are you sure you want it?” “Absolutely.” And off they went. — Paul Weinberg

 The view from my front door.

Eyes Only

Two travel nurses, we arrived in New Mexico to help with the pandemic. We met in the hospital’s Covid-19 tent, glimmers of desert sun streaming in. Pushing through 12-and-a-half-hour shifts, we interacted as we treated patients and tested the sick. A quiet connection grew. With our faces covered, we could only see each other’s eyes. I didn’t see his hidden smile for weeks. When I did, it felt like seeing weeks of masked smiles in an instant. His face, once unknown, soon became home. His heart, a remedy for uncertainty. — Jacqueline McMahon

Our smiling eyes.

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” (available for preorder).