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Tiny Love Stories: ‘I Felt Desire Overshadow Fear’

An aging expatriate in France, I recently started sending family memorabilia to American relatives. I easily dispatched silver, jewelry and war medals, but I struggled with those fake-leather photo albums that showed my dashing father, then sober, beaming at his pudgy grandchild; my proud mother, eyes frightened, stiffly posing at a poker table with my father’s leering military buddies; my 6-year-old self, refusing to look at the camera on the first Christmas after my parents’ divorce. Decades later, staring dumbly at this catalog of distress, I somehow softened, seeing only clumsiness. We really had done our best. — Melissa Beckham

I was in his living room again. After a six-month relationship and multiple stints of reconciliation, I was standing behind him, twisting his hair into starter locs. Hair was always a topic for us. I often wore mine naturally in a curly Afro. He grew his out. We compared lengths and joked about the frequency with which I switched up hairstyles. But that night, as I sectioned his hair into little twists, I was given some permanence: Every time he’d get his locs retwisted, he’d remember my initial handiwork, even if our relationship didn’t work. — Tierra Taylor

I’ve had eczema all my life — a huge and ever-present insecurity. One summer afternoon, when I was 15 and my cousin Carley was 8, we were sitting together on our grandparents’ couch when Carley pointed out a patch of eczema on my neck and asked if it itched. Embarrassed, I said yes and quickly changed the subject. Then, without saying a word, she started scratching it. I was taken aback. I expected disgust, or at least the sort of blunt, amusingly rude remark typical of children. But Carley wasn’t disgusted. Someone she loved had an itch, so she scratched it. — Juliet Brown

I had been on many socially distanced dates, but I hadn’t felt excited on any of them; I was just scared of getting sick. Then I met Maggie. We shared a bottle of wine in Prospect Park and watched the sunset. She made me laugh, and in those moments my anxiety would fade. I could enjoy being with her. “Is this your first?” she asked. “First what?” I replied. “Your first date with a woman,” she said, smiling. I nodded. Under the stars that night, I felt desire overshadow fear. — Gabriela Josebachvili

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