...is what he said as soon as we were alone. I stood in the kitchen of our townhouse with my back to the counter. Recessed lighting lit the space and I could see what he meant. He was standing along the bar at the edge of our dining area where there was little light. His face lit up in a warm glow as he joined me in the kitchen. I stood on the slate gray tile and the coolness made it's way through my thin Smart Wool socks.
Minutes earlier I had helped myself in through the front door despite my not living there anymore. R/T, our nearly two year old yellow lab, stood above on the landing. The toenails of her front feet hung over the second step down as her soft pads gripped the edge. Her joints twitched as she contained her urge, for a moment longer, to clamber down the oak flight of stairs to where I stood. She watched me intently as I took off my Danskos and Mountain Hardware jacket, both in black. Her aluminum water bowl sat in the corner to my left between the front door and the door that led into the garage. Vintage Dodge R/T emblems decorated each wall that formed the corner; about two feet from the floor. They framed her drinking space appropriately. In front of me was a storage cabinet that doubled as a bench. Above it, were hooks on the wall for coats and such.
R/T was named after the 1969 Dodge Charger "R/T". It was a subtle tribute to General Lee from the Dukes of Hazard, Patrick's all time favorite car. Her ears were now perched fully forward. The still loose puppy skin that covered her head pooled forward at her brow from the incline of the steep staircase. It looked like she was trying to hold up the stairs with her outstretched body and all of her might. Her whole body jiggled as the energy found an escape through her tail. All at once, it was as if the outlet had been corked and she exploded forward down the stairs to greet me. I bent down to smother her whole body the best that I could. She spun in slowish circles, when compared to the speed of her swaying hips, as I rubbed and scratched her body. Her cold nose bumped my chin as she snuck in as many kisses with her quick tongue as she could before I grabbed her ears. I pressed my face firmly into the soft fur between them, and whispered sweet nothings to her as I brought my face back and then nuzzled her a little more. I could hear voices coming from the house and made my way up.
I turned the corner at the landing and went up the last three steps into the kitchen. My arrival most definitely was no surprise to anyone thanks to R/T's dutiful welcome. But, she still nosed everyone with swinging hips to share the exciting news, just incase anyone had missed it. Orion and, his then girlfriend, Coral looked up at me with blank expressions. "Sweet!", Patrick exclaimed from behind them. They were standing where the kitchen tile and wood floor met. "What a pleasant surprise! What are you doing here?!", Patrick asked me.
Coral and Orion mumbled some sorts of coming and going greetings and shuffled past R/T and I to make their way down the stairs. "See ya later Pat.", Orion called before the landing with a wave. "Yeah, see ya.", Patrick said indifferently as he looked at me with utter delight. His smile exposed his beautiful teeth and his big blue eyes sparkled. It killed me to see him so happy. I felt like anything but an angel, and I so wished he hadn't said it as he walked over to me. I fidgeted under his penetrating gaze. He didn't expect that my surprise visit would be heavyhearted, and my stomach was in knots. The truth was, I didn't call in advance because there was no way to soften the news I was about to bear. Kind of like ripping off a band-aide. Just do it quickly and unexpectedly, if possible. I hadn't wanted to fill Patrick with any anxiety. I'd suffered enough for the both of us today. But, then again, seeing him now made me realize that I might actually want to know that the band-aide would be torn away if this were reversed. I would hope for quick, but at least knowing that it were coming I could brace myself and wear a strong face. I however, did not provide Patrick with such consideration. I was selfish and scared, and just wanted it to be over.
I'd spent my lunch hour at Four Corner's Eye Clinic, where I worked as an ophthalmic assistant, learning the implications of filing for divorce. In the state of Colorado a decree can be issued as soon as ninety days from the filing date; if the court finds that the marriage is irretrievably broken. It is a matter of filling out a few documents and standing before a judge. Now I just needed to tell Patrick that I wanted one.
I couldn't lead him on. I quickly told him that we needed to talk, and walked past him to sit at our dining room table. The only light was what crept in from the kitchen, and the two recessed bulbs that were on from the other end of our living space. They lit up our 42" flat screen t.v. and the 4x5' portrait we had painted, of our old Willys jeep, that hung above it. My view of the painting was beautiful from where I sat at our round wood table. The table sat four, and was like a huge chopping block. I'm uncertain of what kind of wood it was cut from, but it was solid with chairs to match. The surface was as smooth as silk where there wasn't the texture of what looked like worm holes. It was oiled which brought out it's warm clay color. Behind me a popular sepia tone print hung of a photograph taken of Durango near the turn of the century. The photo was taken from the perspective of Smelter Mountain and captured the roughness of the Rocky Mountain boom town that was across the river and below. It hung on our lightly textured wall in a barn wood frame. Our walls were a crisp clean spring green, but very pale. They were lovely and fresh. The poplar shelves that constructed Patrick's work space, opposite of both the t.v. and dining room table, were a soft accent that nearly blended into the walls. Our salmony terra-cotta colored faux suede couch faced the t.v., with it's back to Patrick's desk and our dining area. Our living space was full, but uncluttered.
Patrick sat down across from me. His face fell and the color drained as I said, "We're done. I want a divorce." His sparkling eyes dulled and his head dropped. R/T laid at our feet. It was early November, and I was twenty-seven. We'd been together for ten years.