Monday, October 3, 2022
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Tiny Love Stories: Summer Loving

A very drunk man won’t stop telling me about trains. The Cape Town summer is hot, the night sticky, my drink warm. This gay bar will surely sink, given the number of heaving bodies shoved inside it. I nod at the train-talker, plotting an escape, and you appear. Your accent is cute, your beard cuter, and you tell the train guy that we’re here together. Suddenly, we are here together. It isn’t a lie; it’s a prophecy, and a good one at that. Ten years, three countries, five cities, four dogs and two toddlers later, we’re still here, together. — Michael McClelland

Jenny plays music from her MP3 player. Christmas carols in July. Operatic voices fill the woods as robins flutter down and surround her. Jenny stops moving and stares. The robins sing. No words are spoken. Complete contentment in nature. She turns to me and plants an awkward, resolute kiss on my lips. It is only now in her teenage years that she can tolerate touch. I pull my autistic daughter to my breast and feel her love. — Grainne Armstrong

Recently, I stood over the stove caramelizing onions. The smell suddenly reminded me of that summer we spent cooped up in our tiny dark apartment. Hiding from the heat in the day and caramelizing onions in the evening. Excited by the aroma, our feet stuck to linoleum, we came alive as the sun went down, our bellies growling for a taste. I had forgotten it was all we ate — for weeks, caramelized onions — because it was all we could afford. My memories of that time are sweet, sticky and content. Almost buried by layers of time. — Megan Bolaños

I nervously decided to study abroad the summer after my junior year in college. Four years recovered from my struggle with anorexia. My body had healed but my mind was still at war. Italy charmed me like a lover I hadn’t expected to meet. Rome courted me on cobblestone streets. Capri caressed me with its sea. Florence spoon-fed me gelato. In a country far away, my body finally began to feel like home. I had saved my life, but Italy taught me how to savor it. — Stephanie Kennedy

My ex left me with two young children and a house in disrepair. I couldn’t face my children’s searching eyes and endless questions, but I could call an electrician. John appeared the next day. Sharing a ladder, we struggled to mount a ceiling fan in the waning light of a summer evening. It was then, John said, in seeing my belly peeking from my shirt, that he fell for me, our shadows dancing on the walls. Apparently, the entire house had to be rewired. John made the right connections and, 18 years later, the light remains. — April Silva

When I was a child, my mother, Cherry, and I would sing Barbra Streisand duets in the car, each taking turns belting out Barbra’s parts. During summer, when the Indianapolis neighborhood boys played basketball, I joined my mother for living-room aerobics. We spent countless afternoons watching our favorite soap opera, “Guiding Light.” In college, I told her I was gay. “Oh, thank God!” she said. “I didn’t think this day would ever come. I’ve known since you were 4.” She adored having a gay son and waited almost two decades for me to love that about myself as well. — Brett Krutzsch

Before the city pool in Johnson City, Tenn., got drained at summer’s end, dogs could take a swim for five bucks. Sporting his green life jacket, Barney leaped in as if he weren’t tired, deaf, toothless. We stayed until no one else was left. It’s a small thing in life, a dog, but small is relative. I packed biscuits for our last trip to the vet. I sat on the floor in the lobby, feeding Barney biscuits one by one, and for a moment it seemed possible that we might never run out. — Shuly Xóchitl Cawood



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