Tiny Love Stories: ‘The Sex Is Still Spectacular’

17 Years Later

A posh Westchester County girl and a poor Mississippi farm boy meet in Jiu-Jitsu class. At university, she studies operational meteorology; he studies English and writes poetry. It takes them only five months from first date to vows and embroidered towels. With tensions high during a Thanksgiving visit to her family with their infant son, her grandmother tells them that they are only together for the sex. Tears ensue. Bags are packed. Yet, after 17 years, two children and six jobs in Alaska and South Dakota, I have to say, dear reader, the sex is still spectacular. — Stan Wise

My skin knew on our second date. It warned me that our connection was too quick, too intense with red, peeling patches across my cheeks and chin. (Dermatitis, dermatologists said, unsure of the trigger. Stress, maybe, or some unknown irritant. I dismissed it with prescription desoximetasone.) My skin knew the week before our wedding, swelling until my eyes shut tight, so puffy and pink and full of panic. My skin knew the moment it met my wedding band. The rash on my ring finger only left when I did, two years later. My skin always knew. Underneath, I did too. — Jessica DeFino

In June, my 86-year-old father, Pete, had a stroke and broke his leg. By September, he was still in a wheelchair, hands unsteady. What to do for my mother Louise’s 81st birthday? “I know,” he said to me. “She wants a haircut. I’ll trim her hair.” Days later, I approached their porch, met by my redheaded mother and her new ’do. Punk cut. Sideburns. Half-inch bangs pointing forward like the bill of a cap. Without exchanging a word, we start laughing — guffawing, really. My mother shushes me once we can breathe. “Mary, don’t say anything to him. Don’t hurt your daddy’s feelings.” — Mary Storms

My American student visa was two weeks from expiring. I was preparing to return home to India, where I would stay until international travel restrictions lifted. My mother called, asking what I wanted to eat when I got to Mumbai. She would plan her lockdown shopping accordingly. “Pani puri!” I answered. Later that day, I was chatting with my boyfriend’s mother while she washed dishes in her Pennsylvania kitchen. She asked, “Is there anything you’d like me to cook for you before you leave?” At that moment, I yearned for the two kitchens to be one. — Chaarvi Modi

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