Tiny Love Stories: ‘We Met, and Then the City Shut Down’

We met, and then the city shut down. On an early spring day that brought Chicago outside, we exchanged numbers at the end of an ultimate Frisbee game and made plans to meet again. But then the bars, restaurants and coffee shops closed. So we adapted. We dated on my couch and across my kitchen table. We picked up takeout, alternated secret glances over a puzzle, ate cinnamon pancakes. We didn’t talk about the pandemic until, lying in bed, we laughed at our sudden and unexpected domestic intimacy, entwined while quarantined. — Madison Moore

I watched her head dip beneath the faucet. Her aged hands fumbled with the hot and cold. Light poured in through the kitchen window. Afterward, her shirt was damp, her hair clean, and she thanked me for standing next to her in case she fell. I was filled with love. As an educator, I know: We must help one another while honoring each other’s independence. I can only hope that someday someone will be standing next to me, and that someday I can be as beautiful as my grandmother washing her hair in the kitchen sink. — Sara Tennyson


My granddaughter, Annie, is 21 months old. We’ve enjoyed hours of ordinary time together: sharing picnics, holding hands, snuggling with books. Then the virus came. Now, Annie toddles toward me expecting to be scooped up only to have me keep space between us. She reaches for my hand only to have me refrain. She wraps her arms around my legs, wanting help with her shoe, only to have me pass the privilege to her mother. Confusion rests on Annie’s face. Does she feel rejected? What does this pulling away mean to her? Will our days of warm embraces return? — Ruthie Douglass

It’s a fun game, testing the durability of our love with hypotheticals — the scariest being those that might actually happen. We worry about gradual annoyances, inevitable disagreements. Now, practicing social isolation in separate apartments, I ask what would happen if he forgets me during our time apart. His reply? “We’ll just get to fall in love all over again.” What I didn’t know I needed to hear: a reassurance not that we will stay forever intact but that we can rebuild if we shatter. — Angie Kang

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