Tiny Love Stories: ‘Why Can’t You Find Someone?’

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Tito asked me to marry him, but not for the happily ever after. He had AIDS — a death sentence in the early 1980s. He wanted his property to go to his partner, Michael, but his father disapproved. After Tito’s death, I was to wait a few years, then sign everything over to Michael. I was honored by Tito’s trust and might have said yes, but his father relented, allowing Michael to inherit Tito’s assets, though he would not be invited to the funeral. Forty years later, I miss my friend. Would he be married to Michael if he were alive? — Lynn Tamayo

“Why can’t you find someone?” my parents asked when I was 26. “He’s not here yet,” I said. “He’s in Africa.” (I’ve always been slightly psychic; my parents have always been slightly skeptical.) As the “Dating Diva” at Manhattan’s Learning Annex, I felt confident in my ability to help myself and others “find a mate or just a date.” In my 40s, I still felt confident but relied less on my “dating tricks.” One rainy night, I bumped into a tall man who rolled his R’s. Today, my South African husband says he loves me and our daughter in Afrikaans. — Estelle Erasmus

Our mother, Vilma, would kiss our foreheads when departing for work. I’d get ready for school knowing we would reunite late at night. My sister, Angie, would grab my hand and say, “We’ll be OK.” Lonely after school, we would wait for our mother to return to our Queens apartment. “Angie, can you help me with my homework?” I’d ask. “Yeah, let’s do it together.” As my single mother hustled, Angie took care of me when I needed care, comforted me when I sought comfort. Not even two years older than me, my sister will always be my second mother. — Mishell Lovato

We started dating a few months before the pandemic. She lived in New Jersey while I lived in New York, and she drove a dusty compact car. The back seat was like an Army surplus store: blankets, picnic chairs, snacks, water. She was a civil engineer and liked to be prepared. The first time we kissed was in her car, contorted across the front seats. I remember the scent of her shampoo and the weight of everything behind us and the year ahead. The last message I received from her was: “The pressure is too high, I can’t. I’m sorry.” — Rahul D’Silva

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