Tiny Love Stories: ‘Everyone Knew but Him’

I owned a small laundromat called “The Laundromat” on Fire Island. Carol walked in with musty sheets and towels from her share house. I quoted her $48.50 (this was in 1976). “I’m from the Bronx,” she said. “I don’t pay $48.50 for laundry. I’m going to the other place.” She left in a huff, returning only an hour later, all disheveled, hot and annoyed. “There is no other place,” she said. “I know,” I replied, “but I couldn’t tell you because I know you wouldn’t have believed me.” And that’s how I met my dear wife of 43 years. — Rick Kushner

I was 7 or 8 when I first felt attracted to other girls. I dreamed of falling in love with a woman. But I belonged to an evangelical church and didn’t think it was possible. I married a man at 25, hoping it would be enough. But dreams do not easily die. When I met Liz, 24 years of marriage and three children later, my soul awakened. Now, at the age of 64, I am genuinely free. Free to be seen as I am, not as I pretended to be. Free to experience a love that wildly surpasses my dream. — Kim Stamp

September 2020, Hanoi, Vietnam: Leigh (American-Belgian, international literature teacher) and Kamil (Polish-Vietnamese, M.M.A. fighter/martial arts trainer). I was so lonely. He wasn’t. I needed a sport to get me out of my deep depression. It worked. Over two years of sparring sessions and board game nights, I fell in love with both martial arts and Kamil. Everyone knew but him. In February, 2022, Kamil’s relationship wasn’t working out, Russia had invaded Ukraine, everything felt tenuous. A friend asked him, “Why don’t you go out with Leigh?” He did. One year later, I asked him to marry me. He will. — Leigh Redemer

I was days away from giving birth but still working. Someone said my name. I looked up to see my first true love staring down at me. “What are you doing here?” I asked. He replied that he was in town for work, on a lunch break and was determined to find me (in 1982 workplaces were far less secure). We only visited for five minutes, but I knew then that this man would always occupy a place in my heart. Throughout my daughter’s life, 41 years later, he and I still stay in touch. It is a special friendship. — Amy Lamy

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