Tiny Love Stories: ‘Not an Ode to Breasts’

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From Fake Flirtation to Real Romance

It was one of those Los Angeles evenings fragrant with bougainvillea and possibility. Before long, it was time to return to the party. The band was playing, but there was no music. She, in red satin, was a beacon among black dinner jackets. As we approached the bandstand, the director called “cut” and we returned to our marks. Take after take until we were told to walk arm-in-arm to the bar. We toasted with ginger-ale-filled flutes and mimed flirtation. Then we wrapped. Seven years later, the TV show has long been forgotten, but we continue to write new episodes. — Andrew Lerman

Walking to Pisa

After realizing that we were going in the opposite direction of Pisa, we hopped off the bus in rural Italy. We told ourselves we would walk, and we did. When the Tower of Pisa was finally leaning in front of us, I was not in awe because we were seeing Italy, but because Italy was seeing us: Two girls who had climbed rocks, taken photos with street art and dodged fast cars on a narrow road, our faces flushed with exertion and love. — Annie Yan

Embracing Myself

Unattended middle schoolers on a field trip in Belarus, we played strip poker. It was the 2000s — the era of tomboy Kate Moss and skinny equals pretty. When I removed my top, a cocky opponent condemned my recently grown breasts, the Venus of Willendorf kind. That was the beginning of an unloving relationship between me and my body. It lead to a surgery: pain, healing and scars. Yet this is not an ode to breasts, nor a criticism of the involved. It’s a peace offering. Crisscrossed arms reaching my back: a wholehearted apology to myself. — Lena Zycinsky

Maya Angelou Said: People Will Never Forget How You Made Them Feel

After years of waiting and hoping, I became a grandmother in my mid-60s. I looked forward to doing so many things with Dashiell. I would be the most attentive, fun and active grandmother ever! But that changed two years after Dashiell was born, when I was diagnosed with terminal esophageal cancer. I don’t make plans anymore. Now, I focus on spending as much time as I can with this precious boy in hopes that he will have some memories of me. If nothing else, I hope he’ll remember how it felt to be with me, safe and so very loved. — Shirley Gubler

See more Tiny Love Stories at nytimes.com/modernlove. Submit yours at nytimes.com/tinylovestories.

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