Tiny Love Stories: Australia Edition

By | February 26, 2019

On holiday in America, I became pen pals with a guy who loves Aussie wildlife. Back in Sydney, I told my 85-year-old grandmother I wanted to send him photos of native birds. Weeks later, I received a voice mail message from her, saying, “I took my first photo! It’s a cockatoo for you to send to that boy you like in New York.” It was blurry, and his response wasn’t game-changing, but I’ll always remember that my grandmother learned how to use an iPhone just so she could help me impress a bloke overseas. The ultimate wingwoman. — Hayley Noble

My grandmother’s blurry picture.

I felt like such a city boy when we visited her family farm in Collie, New South Wales. Born and raised in Sydney’s inner city, I had no dust on my boots or dirt under my nails. “You drive a Ute?” her grandfather asked me, referring to a utility vehicle. “Absolutely,” I lied. When I crashed through the back of their garage, I figured we were over. At least it’ll make a good story: “I used to date this girl until her grandfather killed me.” He ran over, unleashing an impressive torrent of curse words. Then I saw her doubled over laughing and knew everything would be OK. — Thomas Mitchell


Together at her family farm.

When I was 15, I bought a white dress at a store called “Tree of Life.” I told my best friend that one day I would marry her in it. We laughed, which hurt me, though I couldn’t figure out why. Eventually, I worked it out and told her the truth: None of it had ever been a joke. In the same sentence, she told me she loved me but we could never happen — girls didn’t marry other girls. In 2017, when marriage equality passed in Australia, she was the first person I thought of, my first great love. I’ve kept the white dress. I don’t think I could ever throw it away. — Eleanor Gerrard


The white dress.

The sniffer dog at Sydney Airport detected the forgotten apple buried deep in my husband’s backpack. (Two trips before, my dearest had mistakenly ticked all the “yes” boxes on the immigration card. Tuberculosis: yes. Biological specimens: yes. Firearms: yes. Illicit drugs: yes. “Mate,” sighed the immigration officer. “The fellow before you only spoke German and he got it right.”) I worked my jet-lagged child’s foot into a sneaker, wondering how it came to pass that I am saddled with such a travel partner. Oh yes, it was a proposal — at an airport. I hope we’re always traveling together. — Kate Palmer


Our airport engagement.

A December wedding planned to a tee. Flowering Eucalyptus gums dripped with pink and orange. Cicadas roared. The menu was Thai, the wine organic, the air so humid my earrings slipped off my lobes. We shot photos by the Hawkesbury River as the storm rolled in, drawing closer with each shutter snap. Guests turned to look, then edged toward the barn. Dark rain on the water, lightning on the bank. “Time to bail,” said our photographer, hopping down the hill. “This is the best apocalypse I’ve ever attended,” said a friend, soaked, pulling the barn door shut with a screech. — Sophie McComas


The groom’s friend, Ed, closing the barn door.
In occasional special editions of Tiny Love Stories, we plan to showcase voices and perspectives from around the world. Australia was our first special call out; India is up next. If you live in India and have a short personal story about the ties that bind (and sometimes break), go to nytimes.com/tinylovestories and write “INDIA” at the start of your entry.
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See more Tiny Love Stories at nytimes.com/modernlove.

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