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The Zax Will Learn to Bend Their Wills

He’s asked me since May what we’ll do for our anniversary. Different times, here and there, a short question over Lana Del Rey turned down or maybe the lack-luster tofu stir-fry I thought would be fun. Neither of us would linger over the question. We’d say a deferring “I don’t know” or pad our indecision with an “I’ll think about it.” We navigate cautiously because these light-handed words have historically been catalysts for arguments – our too sensitive natures fingering out the anger in tender wounds. Like on Mackinac Island when we forgot his dress slacks and couldn’t eat at the Grand Hotel, and instead spent an hour managing conflict on a hill overlooking the water because I couldn’t get over an expectation and he had trouble forgiving me. This year I made an itinerary for us. A night in Cincinnati with our favorite things: dinner, dessert, arcade games, and the electric feeling of a city that thrums with people on the weekends, set to the background of some hometown R&B. We’re our easiest selves in this. We smile quicker and look beyond our glasses to the sky, which always seems so big after he’s been tweezering toys at work and I’ve been holed in at home.

Our first year, or even our second, this would have felt like losing. If I had stewed over making detailed plans, it would have been slopped onto a list that would later turn into a shiv on the pretense that “he should have made the plans, not me.” We can be so stubbornly wrong and know it. We can rail against things that our rational minds calmly explain because our emotions just won’t have it – they give with gusto a two-handed shove and hurl all logic off the table.

That’s been me, and occasionally us, and three years has given some aerial view to survey the land beneath our feet. We’ve joked that we’re like The Zax, the Dr. Seuss cartoon with the two little creatures at the intersection, neither willing to move out of the other’s way. We do move, now. What’s more, we scope out intersections where our likes converge and we make camps there. White flag territories that are taking over the land we own. Places where we are both giving and receiving. Sometimes, when Cody knows I’ll need to pump, he’ll wash the bottles while I sing Noah to sleep so we can have some unfettered together time after. We’ll have chili for dinner, because that’s his favorite, and I’m finding I like it more than I thought I did. We found a show we both like, and after dinner we pack up chocolates and drinks and get comfortable on the basement couch for a couple episodes before trekking back up to bed where we’ll pull out our best theories about what will happen next. We love music, and we’re considering investing in a Spotify account so we can gift each other music in a shared space – depositing and withdrawing, transactions that fill us both up.

The morning of our anniversary, Cody heard Noah talking in his crib and got out of bed to get him. He walked back into our room cradling our morning-eyed baby in the curve of his arm. I looked over at the doorway where they were both smiling, and he joked “I got you this for our anniversary.” I responded “It’s a baby!” and lifted up the covers for him to place Noah on the sheets by me. And the rest of the morning looked exactly like it always does. Cody took a shower and I fed Noah, we said I Love You before he left. After three years, I know this kind of a morning is what we both want most.

Three is a quiet number for an anniversary. We’ve settled in. The differences we find between us aren’t torrents, now, and we allow each other more time and quiet and we don’t expect perfection, though we’ll always fight to assume the best. Logic and sanctification will have the winning hand in the long game – and we’re both getting better at playing fair (or apologizing when we don’t).


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