My partner’s birthday today.

In most of my writer bios the first thing I say is that I am a parent; the second thing that I say is that I am a partner.

My partner’s birthday is one of several days of the year that I am most aware of being his partner, as it is most likely on this day that ill will befall me if I forget my responsibilities.

Since we are kinky like that, there are usually moments of my partner’s birthday that involve a princess tiara and a specific hairbrush. But this year, being in a shelter and all, there was, as some say, none of that.

I did manage to nearly break my arm moving our crap into rental storage.

We did have couples’ counseling. (I dissociated.)

I did make him a special box– a self-care kit– with a matchbook of mini incense sticks, a purple journal, a palm-sized Pema Chodron book, and other such assorted niceties that release an exquisite aroma as soon as the lid is lifted.

We ate red velvet scones for breakfast that we purchased with food stamps, and sang happy birthday over locally baked frozen vegan cupcakes that we also bought with foodstamps, lit by a single white candle with fuschia polka dots.

L. did not want to share this singing with our shelter mates, and so we crouched under a wooden Percival Landing map on the dock by the Sound in the rain and ushered in this new year of his life with an offkey song. As he crawled begrudgingly under the sign with us (it was four sided, with one of those unnecessarily shingled rooves), the kid muttered, “parents.” There was a splash, like a seal slid in the water to avoid the clamor of our celebrations, but it was probably just one of those ducks. L. calls them the Pacific Northwest “Poof” ducks.

Well, fuck a duck anyway. Happy birthday to you, baby.

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