Dogs on Instagram
It was a typical New York City love story: We met playing kickball, bonded over jazz and fantasy football and dog runs. We were together for a year, but Astoria is far from the Upper West Side. Weeknights became weekends became every other weekend. We split up after the Halloween dog parade, both agreeing that it just fizzled. Yet, three years later, we still talk every day. But only trading cute dog photos on Instagram. Pugs, Brussels Griffons and Frenchies exclusively. It’s one of my most cherished friendships. — Ricardo Screpka
Passing the Message On
As I waited for my friend to pay the bill, an elderly gentleman said, “Excuse me, I want you to know that you make a lovely couple. My wife recently passed. Someone said this to us when we were dating. I’m passing it on to you.” We weren’t dating. But just 30 minutes earlier my friend had suggested we consider doing so. I was unsure, fearful of losing the friendship. I am forever grateful to that beautiful man who touched my heart that day. My friend, who became my husband, recently died. I am looking to pass the message on. — Kathy Caruso
“No More Secrets”
My grandmother never employed female pronouns when asking if I had found someone. She used the Spanish neutral pronouns to find out if that “someone” had arrived, if I was willing to introduce her to the person I love. She never asked me if I was gay, but she didn’t doubt it because she knew me better than anyone else. She took her silence to the grave, and now I face her gravestone with the boy she will never meet. Granny, today homosexuality is still taboo in Peru, but at least there are no more secrets between us. — Marco Huarancca
Rowing Toward Him
On the rowing machine, I was perfectly positioned to see the entire gym — and him. Months passed before I worked up the nerve to say anything. Turns out he had nicknamed me “rowing-machine girl.” Our first date was a workout in a small lifting room. After a few minutes of awkward squats, we started talking. Hours later, conversation had turned from physical to mental health, and we were stunned to discover we shared the same therapist. We changed therapists but stuck together. — Clara Green
“The Storm is Taking It All”
The winds of Hurricane Maria were barreling down our street in the mountain town of Cayey, Puerto Rico. The windows in my parents’ bedroom began to shake. My mother left the room quickly, but my father froze. “I can’t move,” he said. “The storm is taking it all.” My two siblings and I entered. We told him he needed to get out. “I can’t,” he said with a blank stare. We hugged him hard while the windows rattled, threatening to break loose. “Te tenemos, papi,” we said. (“We got you, Dad.”) He looked up at us and started walking. — Melissa Alvarado Sierra
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