Tiny Love Stories: ‘If You Decide to Flirt With a Stranger’


If you decide to flirt with a stranger by sliding into his Twitter DMs, brew a cup of tea first. Then, sit. Sip the tea. Breathe deeply. Allow yourself to swell with giddiness. Don’t charge forward, rushing with new messages, just because you cannot tolerate the vulnerability of reaching out. That will result with you picking words in a frenzy, words that you’ll pore over later as you wonder why he stopped replying. It might not be flirtatious to point out dead links on a person’s website; it’s sometimes a conversation ender to ask, “Do you have a wife?” — Jay Vera Summer

The last time my family watched July 4 fireworks, we spread a blanket out in Washington Crossing Park, the site of George Washington’s crossing of the Delaware River during the Revolutionary War. Our little ones, then 4 and 6, stayed up far past bedtime. That was when Donald Trump was campaigning on the promise of banning people trying to enter the U.S. from Muslim-majority countries. I grew up in the Delaware Valley. Home is its four seasons, its oak leaves unfurling each spring. But, as American Muslims with small children, we chose to move to Canada, a more inviting home. — Sofia Ali-Khan


We met at Soul Motion, dancing twice a week for years, whispering silly and racy jokes into each other’s ears, cracking up as we twirled. After we shook our booties, we ate at a taqueria in Berkeley, Calif., and talked politics and philosophy with our dance friends. I’m partnered; Michael’s not. When the pandemic came, he texted, “I miss you GF,” with lots of loving emojis. I texted back, “I miss YOU, BF,” with golden hearts. Rivers of wit flowed between us. We’ll never kiss. He’s gay; I’m queer. But when we meet up and dance, it’s the best romance. — Jenny Freeman

Art is a lifeline for my daughter, Taegan. When we learned she had autism after returning to in-person school, I told her that she was on the spectrum. I told her that, like indigo, she is a beautiful and unique color that many people mistake for purple, but upon closer observation realize is the rarest blue. Recently, Taegan drew a girl in a scuba suit breathing with an oxygen tank. “She’s in acid,” she said. “But the acid’s good. It grows her wings.” Sometimes when everything around us feels like acid, I try to remember that our wings are growing. — Summer Koester