Tiny Love Stories: ‘A Truth I Had Tried to Ignore’

When my O.C.D. emerged in third grade, my two older sisters suffered alongside me. We shared a bedroom at our home near Milan. Every night, they waited as I turned the light on and off 38 times. When we drove, I needed to count every light pole. After hours of counting light poles during a 12-hour drive, I cried from exhaustion. My sisters said, “Why don’t you sleep, and we’ll count them for you?” Knowing that I could share the workload with my sisters — that life would continue even if I slept — marked the beginning of my recovery. — Martina Rosazza

Every day, I stop by Tito’s fruit cart on 86th Street after picking my son up from school. “You from India? I’m from Egypt. I love Shah Rukh Khan,” he says, referring to the Bollywood actor. “And I love Nawal el Saadawi,” I reply, referring to the Egyptian feminist writer, activist and physician. “Try these yellow dates. They are good for your health,” he insists. My son and I missed him this summer. I wondered if he would recognize us without masks. I bought some dates. He thanked me with a familiar, affectionate smile. I think he missed us too! — Shubhangi Garg Mehrotra

Although my name, Jacob Jones, isn’t particularly rare, I was still surprised to meet another queer Jacob Jones while vacationing in Provincetown, Mass. What started as a playful conversation about sharing the same name led to feelings of intimacy. That intimacy illuminated a truth I had tried to ignore: My seven-year relationship had lost its warmth long before. We kissed, this other Jacob Jones and I, but stopped from going further. When I got home, my boyfriend and I broke up. Sometimes it takes meeting a man with the same name to realize there is so much more. — Jacob Jones

We were hiking through torrential rain in the Swiss Alps when my 74-year-old mother hollered, “I want to tell you I love you in case I get struck by lightning and die.” It was possible: We were high above the tree line. In a role reversal, I needed to protect her. We took shelter beneath a boulder while thunder boomed. Later, heading back, my mother slipped and cut her hand. As I pulled out my first-aid kit, I thought of all the times she’d tended to my wounds — both physical and emotional — and echoed wholeheartedly, “I love you.” — Jen Reeder

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