I had vowed I wouldn’t nag him as much. I had vowed many things over the last week. But as I glanced at Adam’s reflection through the computer screen, continuous thoughts started popping up in my head. Computer Adam was unaware he was being watched, as was clear by the crumbs on the shirt that he had been wearing almost everyday for the last week. He had a bowl of doritos on his lap, and his fingers were coated with orange cheese dust. I wanted to remind him not to wipe his fingers on his shirt but the best I could manage without sounding condescending was, “Do you need a napkin?”
He jumped a little in his seat and the expression of surprise on his face meant that he had thought I had been scrolling through one of my many frequented social media websites. As it happened, I had also made a vow to cut down on my internet time, as instagram, facebook and other sources of celebrity gossip or “fake news” was clearly not helpful anymore. The news was filled with articles about the rising number of COVID cases or increasingly strict lockdown measures, and with no end in sight it seemed almost pointless to read news about the same thing we had been dealing with for months.
“Yes, dear,” Adam grinned in a way that made him look at least ten years younger. He had such a boyish smile and admittedly, that was one of the first things I had ever noticed about him. After all, Adam often acted as if he was younger than he was. I found myself giggling as I walked over to the kitchen to get a napkin out of the cupboard.
I had recently read an article that mentioned how the divorce rate had increased since the onset of COVID-19 measures. A good friend of mine, Lana, had just divorced her husband of ten years. When I asked her why she had asked him for a divorce, she simply said, “I’ve just had enough.” I couldn’t let that happen to Adam and I.
When thinking of New Year’s Resolutions for this year the obvious ones occurred to me instantly. Of course I could always lose a few pounds, eat better, exercise more. These are always the headliners on my annual list of resolutions, and they have never been more needed than this year. However, the more I let these ideas percolate, the more arbitrary they seemed. These resolutions were fine and good for the first month of the year, perhaps into February, but I don’t think I’m alone when it comes to forgetting my so-called lifestyle changes by March. No...this year had to be different.
The idea finally came to me amidst one of my more explosive arguments with Adam. He had just left the toilet seat up again, and after doing a whole load of laundry that consisted solely of his pajamas, I could not take it anymore.
“Adam...you did it again,” I had grumbled to him after leaving the bathroom.
“Did what?” He sighed, not even bothering to look away from his video game. I didn’t know what game it was, but it looked like the same one he had been playing for the past month.
“You left the toilet seat up again. And am I the only one that can take the garbage out? It’s been full for three days,” I simmered, regretting that last comment the moment after I said it. I knew what he was going to say.
“Oh, so you noticed it was full?” He smirked in that boyishly charming way of his, “But you wanted to see when I would clue in?”
This was the part in all of our arguments where I attempted to avoid eye contact with him until he begrudgingly admitted that I was right or apologized. Though it didn’t happen too often, he had caught on that this was my end goal.
Instead of continuing our discussion, he pressed the play button on his controller and focused on his game. This was a tactic of his, the one he knew would rile me up even further. Sometimes it seemed like he wanted to see how close he could get to the crater before the volcanic eruption. But when he put this tactic into practice, there was no avoiding an explosion.
I walked over to him and snatched the controller out of his hand. He held onto it the best he could, but it slipped out of his fingers.
“Maybe if you listened to me we wouldn’t have to argue,” I croaked, setting the controller on the corner of the coffee table that was just out of his reach.
“I do listen to you!” He claimed, glaring at the controller as if it had been the one to sprout legs and wiggle out of his grasp.
I resigned myself to the couch, sitting next to him but just far enough away so our knees wouldn’t touch. “I just don’t know what to do anymore.”
He reached for my hand and I knew we had to do something. This was Adam after all. The person I relied on more than anyone else. The person who made me feel safe and calm when I was at my worst. The person who saw me for who I was even when I couldn’t see myself.
As if an animated light bulb suddenly appeared above my head, I grabbed Adam’s hand in between mine and peered up at him. Understandably, he looked confused, and for a second time I noticed how young he still looked while I seemed to gain another wrinkle each day lately. “What if this year our New Year’s resolution is to make vows to each other?” I asked, pausing for his reaction.
“What kind of vows?” He looked even more confused.
“COVID vows,” I squeezed his hand tightly, encouraging myself to continue. “Look, I know it’s been a hard time for us. What if we made vows specific to our situation?”
I didn’t realize at the time but I had a whole list of little things about Adam that I could point out and pick on. No doubt he also had a mental list that he could pick something out of at any moment as well.
I started off listing the most exasperating of all of Adam’s behaviors. “I vow not to nag you about the toilet seat.” As I said this a hint of a smile appeared on his face, and he nodded with understanding. He knew the game we were playing.
“I vow not to comment on how much gossip you read on that,” he pointed to my phone that had been discarded on the coffee table beside his controller.
I laughed at that one. Little did he know that I had already made a resolution to limit my scrolling time. “I vow not to complain about how many days in a row you wear the same shirt...unless it starts to smell of course.”
He looked down at the t-shirt he had on and stood up. “Well, maybe this one is past it’s best before date,” he peeled it off, crumpled it into a little ball in his fist, and looked down at me mischievously. He lowered his face so it was inches from mine and whispered, “You know what I vow?”
“What?” I asked, attempting my best poker-face.
“I vow not to make fun of you when you scream at yet another spider and beg me to take care of it for you,” he joked, both of us instantaneously breaking into giggles, mine considerably more hysterical than his. When we regained our composure he dropped beside me to sit on the couch and for a while we just sat there, leaving my phone and his controller sitting untouched on the coffee table.