How Did He Ever Find You? – short story

The Manhattan hairdresser asked with genuine intrigue, “But, darling, how did your husband ever find you in Australia?” Amy could see that he was envisaging Arthur setting off from the United States on a quest to find his wife-to-be and, against all odds, finding her amongst the wild kangaroos of outback Australia. There was more than a little truth in it. Amy laughed.

Arthur was everything that Amy was not: sophisticated, wealthy, and worldly-wise. If it had not been for Arthur’s mid-life crisis and a conscientious effort at finding a spiritual path, neither would ever have come into contact with the other. After significant professional success and a few failed marriages, Arthur decided that his move to Australia would be the opportunity to find a new direction in life. He was serious in his quest. A very quick and sharp intelligence guaranteed that he read every trailblazing spiritual and psychological book that caught his attention. After friending young Amy at a spiritual meeting, they found that they shared a love of deep thinking and literature.

Amy’s first visit to Arthur’s apartment was pivotal. It wasn’t because of a passionate love affair. It was more of a love affair with his books. As Amy walked hesitantly into his lavish hallway, she stopped in her tracks at the rows of beautiful books lining the wall. It only took a moment for Amy to realise that all the books she had ever wanted to read were right there waiting for her with outstretched hands. It was true bliss. The time-honoured wisdom of Buddha, Lao-Tzu, St. Francis of Assisi, Ramakrishna, and Meister Eckhart; the founding psychologists Freud, Jung, Maslow, and Erickson; the new thought of Mary Baker Eddy, Blavatsky, Rudolph Steiner, and Ernest Holmes; the inspiration of Kahlil Gibran, C.S. Lewis, and Edgar Cayce; the transpersonal psychology of Abraham Maslow, Carl Rogers, Ken Wilber, and Thomas Hora; the Bible, the Bhagavad Gita, and other sacred texts. The door had been grandly opened and it was irresistible and undeniable.

When Amy was a young teenager, she would often go into the religious bookshop, near the train station, on the way home from school. She didn’t have enough money to buy even one book in all the time she went there. She told herself patiently that one day she would have money to buy hundreds of books. She decided which ones she would buy and then walked out the door. The volunteer shop assistants would smile kindly at her and wonder what a girl her age was thinking amongst the books. Before the internet, books meant knowledge and Amy knew that knowledge could be turned into wisdom.

Amy and Arthur both came to the relationship with the best of intentions. Amy felt she had found a spiritual and intellectual soulmate. She was not interested in Arthur’s money. In fact, she felt that a lot of money was very alienating. Some years later, when walking with her little children and her aunt through an orchard, Amy’s aunt casually but poignantly mentioned, “You know Amy, it is generally not first generation rich people who have the problem. They can often remember where they came from. It is the second generation.” She did not say what the problem was but the words spoilt, delusional, and obnoxious sprang to mind. 

The money did, however, bring to Amy and Arthur many experiences which otherwise would have been totally inaccessible. For this, Amy was grateful. She found Arthur at just the right moment in his life. However, Amy did not realise that it was but a moment in time and a long way from being sustainable for him. Arthur felt he had found in Amy a real chance to have a loving family. Kind, nurturing, and intelligent, she was a true find. As she was young, she had little baggage from life and Arthur believed that together they could start from scratch and create the family life he longed for. As life would have it, Arthur’s mid-life honesty and commitment lasted not more than a few, short years and was not found again. Perhaps his closing years would rediscover it. Found once, it is never as difficult to find as the first time.

The relationship gave Amy many exceptional opportunities. It turned her into a woman. It gave her experiences which she could never have dreamed up. It gave her culture. Amy previously knew nothing of music or the arts or the world, at large. It even gave her a new language and a more sophisticated way of speaking. It gave her an experience of wealth so that she knew it would never be necessary to feel less than anyone and God help her if she ever did that thing she saw and despised so much of thinking anyone less than her. She could handle money if it came her way and not chase it if it did not. She had lived in a world much older than herself and it changed her. It made her much older than her years. Yet, after its completion, she found that unlike her younger years when she craved the friendship of older, sometimes, much older people, she now sincerely enjoyed the company of younger people, knowing their limitations but not needing them to be more than they could be. The whole relationship was a blessing, regardless of its long, drawn out, and lonely demise. It was a blessing but it was more of a blessing when it was over.

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