Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Tiny Love Stories: ‘I Know Something She Doesn’t’

While the other Ph.D. students chatted — dryly — around the pool, Noel sprang headfirst into messy dives, off-center flips and drenching belly flops. He then dragged an 8-foot long inflatable whale under the diving board to land astride and ride. “Who is this guy?” my classmate asked, bewildered. This guy was a Florida boy, a water lover who emboldened me to ditch my cover up and pretensions, then cannonball into the deep end. Twenty five years on, we’ve synchronized strokes, often finishing each other’s jokes. Our children and I agree: He’s the funniest fish in the sea. — Leslie Kenna

After my father’s near-death because of coronavirus, the road trip we had been putting off felt urgent. On Highway 101, I pressed firmly on the gas, hoping to outpace his mortality. My father’s gravelly voice hummed to the playlist I’d curated for his musician’s ear. As we walked along the Pacific Ocean, I was all too aware of a fatigue that slowed his gait. But sightseeing, conversation and moments of mirth brightened our days. We ate and drank well (sometimes in defiance of doctors’ orders). On the open road, I learned things about my father that I had never known. — Danielle Elizabeth Hayden

Friendships require two people occasionally showing up in the same spaces — whether a room with windows and walls, or the heart space created by a phone call or text. I have a friend who has pushed me out of every space. She suggested we meet for coffee “someday.” I suggested we meet Wednesday. Not possible, she said. How about another day? No response from her all summer. My friend wants options but never intends to vest them. I know something she doesn’t; we’re bankrupt. We’ll never meet for coffee, or anything, because Someday and Wednesday cannot be friends. — Missy Snapp

The tattoo machine buzzes as I remember the night I had my first child at 17. I’d stared out the hospital window at the moon, a luminous crescent in the clear winter sky. The following day, I handed my daughter over to her adoptive parents. The moon comforted me during our years of separation. When my child came out as transgender at 15, his adoptive parents proved too rigid in their beliefs to accept him fully. My mothering arms had grown by then, and I reached out to my son. Now, we proudly compare our matching crescent moon tattoos. — Joanna Good

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