Tiny Love Stories: ‘I Felt Like a Particle of Light’

The Cusp of Adolescence

In the 11th summer of my life, I befriended a local boy on Ocracoke Island. Tall, soft-spoken, with a mop of red-blonde hair that sometimes hid his blue eyes, he was one of the few people who showed me sweet-tempered kindness while my family dissolved into alcoholism. I remember holding hands, the whooping calls of tree frogs and humid, inky-black evenings at the ocean’s edge — bioluminescent sand sparking as we kicked it up. On the cusp of adolescence, I felt like a particle of light, suspended in a love as platonic and gentle as the moon those summer nights. — Marie Koltchak

Me, age 11.

My Selfish Selfless Man

We met in January 1994 on a gay chat line. I wasn’t supposed to spend the night. In April, I had a key to his apartment and we had our first fight. After showering one night, he said he needed antiperspirant. I offered to get it. “No,” he barked. “You don’t have to do things for me.” He inhaled, looking at his feet. “I have been told I can be selfish.” I hugged him. After his birthday in June, this selfish man who acts selflessly, finally had the courage to look me in the eyes and say, “I love you.” — Paul Salkind

Us in 1994. Our friends held a “dress as furniture” party. We went as book ends; Jeff is on the left.

His Magic Toiletry Kit

Harry and I celebrated seven years of marriage in a beautiful Grand Canyon cabin. Dressing for dinner, I asked him if he had scissors to snip a thread from my sweater. He quickly pulled a pair from his toiletry kit. “I have everything in here you could possibly want,” he declared. I challenged his hyperbole: “Oh yeah, do you have a diamond ring?” (He had never given me a diamond ring.) He smiled, good-naturedly. At dinner, Harry descended to one knee, declared he’d marry me all over again and presented the diamond ring that was stashed in his toiletry kit. — Judith Karp

A selfie we took on the Boston Waterfront last summer.

Always Swinging Open

I see my Abuelita’s screened door swinging in my mind’s eye: sunlight piercing through the mosquito net, the scent of warm tortillas in the air. Even at 4, I know that Abuelita is not rich, not like my other, Italian grandmother. Now, over three decades later, my Abuelita’s screened door inhabits my dreams. I hear its constant opening and closing as a parade of aunts, uncles, cousins and chickens stream through. Abuelita’s home in Honduras is my first home, the home of my heart, the one where closing doors never mean “goodbye,” but, rather, “see you soon.” — Cindy Lamothe

With my Abuelita and older brother in Honduras.

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