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Endings

March 15, 2011

     Sometimes your life changes irrevocably and suddenly.  When you look back it seems inevitable, but at the time it happens, it catches you.
     I remember the end of my marriage.  
     It was inevitable looking back, but I would have denied it if someone had told me the truth. 
     The end started with a simple phone call.  My wife, Denise, called me at work.  “Hey, I was going to go out for drinks after work with some of my co-workers, you mind picking Sarah up from the daycare?”
     “We were going to take her to the art show tonight, remember?”
     “Oh.”  There was a long pause.  “Why don’t you pick her up and I will meet you there?  That way I can catch a drink with everyone before hand.”
     “Sure.”  I was irritated, but I went and picked up my daughter and then drove back to the museum.  There was a special showing of an artist that painted cartoonish animals that Sarah liked.  The artist was a local one and was going to be at the exhibit.
     We arrived at the museum and parked.   I slid open the door to the minivan and helped Sarah unbuckle from her booster seat.
     Her tiny hand used mine for support as she hopped out and skipped beside me chatting the whole time. I don’t remember what we talked about.  Sarah talked incessantly about everything she saw.  She talked to people when she met them, she talked to herself when no one was around.  She talked, and I listened, like a lot of adults do, only partially.
     The museum was full of people, and I felt under dressed in jeans and shirt, with a ski jacket.  I wore suits most days, but on the times I could get away with it, I enjoyed dressing down.  There were people I knew from the community there.  I nodded at some, I greeted others as we made out way around the modern art that jutted from the walls in vaguely menacing ways.
     The artist’s show was in an exhibit hall set aside for his showing and people were gazing at his newest pieces, sipping red wine.  I was disappointed and so was Sarah.
     It was try hard.  Like a lot of artists that get moderately successful for what critics would call creative expressions that appeal to common tastes, they eventually try to assert their creative genius by doing something different, edgier, and I am sure they would say more emotive of their true passions.   The result is almost always shotty (with an “i” taking the place of the third letter in that last word). 
     This was no exception.
     So we quickly left and were examining primitive art, which I discovered was used to describe art done with primitive materials, and not actually done by technological primitives because using the word that way was judgmental, when Denise arrived.
     With her was Mike.  Both of them came in walking like a couple, wearing dark suits, and darker raincoats. 
     Mike didn’t work with my wife.
     Sarah saw her mom and ran up to her excitedly.  I watched her and looked at Mike.  He was smiling at me, but it wasn’t the smile of a friend, it had no warmth or humor to it, it was more a kin to the display of teeth an animal displays before a fight.
     Denise looked up at me, “Sorry I’m late.  I had a little too much to drink and Mike offered to give me a ride.  That was nice of him, don’t you think?”
     I grunted.
     Sarah and her mom trotted off to look at paintings and Mike went with them leaving me feeling like an outsider.  A guy I knew looked at them, looked at me and then looked away.
     I went and got a glass of wine.  It tasted dry, leaving me thirsty.
     And I waited until Denise and Sarah found me.  It didn’t take long.
     “Sarah’s feeling tired, you mind taking her home?”  Mike waited nearby.
     “You should come with us, if you’ve had too much to drink.”
     Denise paused, “I’m feeling better now.  Mike will give me a ride to my car.”
     “We can take you to your car.”
     “No, Sarah’s getting tired.”
     “It won’t take long,” I insisted.
     “No, I’m going with Mike.”
     “Please go with us.”  I asked one more time.
     “No, I’ll catch up with you.” She turned to Mike and started chatting. 
     I took Sarah to the minivan and buckled her in and then sat in the vehicle and waited.  I watched them walk out, saw her touch his arm.  Saw him open the door to his sports car for her and drive off.
     “Everything o.k., Daddy?”  Sarah had gotten quiet before she asked that.
     “Yes.” I lied to her, backed the car out and drove to a home I didn’t belong in anymore.

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