Modern Love Podcast: When Getting Old Never Happens

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‘Even though we hadn’t lasted, the way we had bridged the political and cultural divide was refreshing. It was love.’

They disagreed on a lot of things: She was a “bleeding-heart liberal”; he was a “conservative libertarian.” He “came from good Irish Catholic stock”; she called herself a “hopeful agnostic.”

When the firefighter chased her down the street to ask her out, she pinned him as “a bald, white, middle-aged New York City cliché.”

On their first date, no topic was off-limits. Not racism, not abortion, not substance abuse. With each date, another debate.

Today’s episode is about the space they found in each other — and the unexpected aftermath of their breakup.

Stories in today’s episode

“‘Old Never Happened for Him,’” Kathryn Jarvis
Kathryn lives in coastal Georgia. She recently published a memoir titled “A Red Door.” Randy, the college boyfriend mentioned in her Tiny Love Story, continues to live on for her. “I was hesitant to buy the house I now live in,” she said. “I was still working, it was expensive, I lived five hours away, all valid reasons not to make the purchase.” But when Randy died, her perspective changed: “Life is short, he was gone. I bought the house.”

Firefighter Chases Woman Down Street,” Marlena Brown
Marlena works in book publicity in New York City. In February, within hours of her piece about the firefighter (named Stephen J. Brady) publishing in Modern Love, The Times received a flood of emails from people who knew him well. When Dan asked Marlena what she and Stephen would be talking about today, she said: “It would be a hard conversation, but it would be a hard conversation worth having.” “When it came to our core values,” she continued, “we were actually coming from the same place.”

Hosted by: Daniel Jones and Miya Lee
Produced by: Kelly Prime and Hans Buetow
Edited by: Wendy Dorr
Music by: Dan Powell
“‘Old Never Happened for Him,’” written and read by: Kathryn Jarvis,
Firefighter Chases Woman Down Street,” Audm narration by: January Lavoy and produced by Ryan Wegner and Kelly Rogers
Executive Producer, NYT Audio: Lisa Tobin
Assistant Managing Editor, NYT: Sam Dolnick

Special thanks: Nora Keller, Mahima Chablani, Julia Simon, Laura Kim, Bonnie Wertheim, Anya Strzemien, Joanna Nikas, Choire Sicha. The family members and friends of the firefighter who were featured in the episode include Trish Brady, Jill Butler, Brendan Lee, John Luongo, Chuck Jankowski, Dorrie Jankowski and Christopher Treacy.

Want more from Modern Love? Watch the TV series and sign up for the newsletter. We also have swag at the NYT Store and two books, “Modern Love: True Stories of Love, Loss, and Redemption” and “Tiny Love Stories: True Tales of Love in 100 Words or Less” (forthcoming).

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