Tiny Love Stories: ‘Irritated by the Drama of Her Effort’

My husband and I are both teachers. On our 10th anniversary, I suggested that we review our vows and give grades for how well we had achieved our commitments. Going line by line, we gave our ratings on vows like, “I promise to share life’s joys and to comfort you in its sorrows,” and “I promise to listen to you when I do not understand; and to trust you when I am in doubt.” David kept giving out As and A+s. “Wow,” I said, “do you really think I rated that high?” David replied, “I thought I was grading myself!” — Camille Napier Bernstein

A three-year affair. Fiery, dizzying, painful. Sunrise runs, seaside hikes, “I love you” exchanged in secret. Year four: After a night of dancing and drinking, he sees his husband kiss me from another room. Voices are raised, explanations demanded, his husband reveals a truth: “I have feelings for him, too.” An unexpected throuple forms. We make love, make plans, play cribbage, they host my friends for dinner. We’re happy. Soon, neighbors get wind, the rumor mill churns, longtime friendships strain. Jealousy seeps in, arguments abound. I end five years of heartache with a text: “You’re right, this isn’t gonna work.” — Corey Gerard Lambert

I traveled from New York to Leiden to visit my mother who was ailing with advanced lung disease. On my first morning, groggy with jet lag, I found her at my bedside, holding my favorite biscuits. “How did you get up here?” I asked, knowing she can’t easily climb the stairs to the second floor anymore. Smiling, a little embarrassed, she replied, “Very slowly, one step at a time.” Later, I recounted this interaction to my therapist, a bit irritated by the drama of her effort. “That’s a little over the top,” I said. “No, that’s love,” he replied. — Daniella van Gennep

My mother and I don’t normally text. But the day I discovered that Google Translate had added Tigrinya, spoken in Eritrea, where I was born, I sent her a few simple, translated messages — starting with “I love you.” Her response, in Tigrinya, displayed an outsized joy: “I love you so much, too!!!” My mother had misconstrued my texts, believing that I had relearned the language I once could easily speak. Her misconception and the imperfect, cumbersome translations prompted a familiar pang of loss — the yearning to recover my identity, to speak to my mother in her native tongue. — Bethel Habte

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