Tiny Love Stories: ‘Sex Is Our Antidote to Loss’

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Thursday mornings: Clear our schedules, send the kids off to school. Clutching espressos, tiptoe upstairs to make out like teenagers eluding the chaperone. Forget your cancer scare. Forget how I was widowed by a suicide before you appeared. Sex is our antidote to loss. We take our time. But in the pandemic? No longer. Teenagers fill the house, flung across chairs, splayed on sofas, Zooming — all day. And nighttime? Sleep is sexier than sex. Until school resumes. You touch my face. We lock eyes, holding on, like survivors do, attuned to moments that make days, never wanting to let go. — Rachel Zimmerman

Sandy was a straight transgender woman from the Bronx. I am a gay, cisgender woman from Manhattan. Just three miles apart, we lived in different worlds. We met at the methadone clinic where I was her doctor. Every week for six months, we treated her hepatitis. Though feverish and weak, she was cured. But within a year, Sandy discovered she had advanced lymphoma. On her deathbed, she told me that she loved me. I had felt the trust grow between us in my small office, but I had no idea about her feelings. Eleven years later, I still miss her.— Melissa Stein

Born in South Korea, I was adopted at birth by a white military family stationed at Kwangju Air Base. Having my own children has been a profound experience. They are the only biologically related family I’ve ever known. Throughout my life, I’ve struggled to figure out where I culturally belong. The struggle feels even more complex as a mother: How do I pass on the very part of me that is most foreign to myself? Without a map, my family and I experiment. At my son’s Baek-il, a Korean celebration of a child’s 100th day of life, I felt at home. — Lani Longacre

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My boyfriend signed us up for a dating app under the guise of swinging while staying partnered. He managed my account and swiped through men for me. My boyfriend arranged a meeting with Won for strictly casual sex. Won shared stories of his past polyamorous partnerships and expressed a deep affinity for honesty. We didn’t have sex that night, but I did break up with my boyfriend a week later, after learning that he had been cheating on me when we were monogamous. Now, Won and I are still in an open relationship — this time, without secrets, just satisfaction. — Lauren Bernales

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