Short Story Series 1 – Part 5 (SSS1-5)

[…continued from Part 4]

“Earl Grey would be wonderful. Thank you,” I answered. “I love your imaginative analysis and it sounds like it would be satisfying. But, how am I to earn money? As an artist, I would never have afforded my house next door, at least not at the age of 30 when I built it five years ago.”

“Is that house really important to you,” she asked? “Or, do you simply need a domain to call home?”

“Well, I did design it, but I am not attached. My point is that money is necessary for survival.”

“No, Patrick. Granted, it makes life easier, but an easy life doesn’t imply a life of purity, virtue and soul-satisfying integrity, let alone happiness. Anyone – and I mean anyone – who applies themselves to a deliberate choice wholeheartedly and steadfastly, will prevail. The money will come. It has no choice because the opportunities will come. The universe will manifest your true intentions. You will learn in time to be open to those opportunities. And, as long as you never sacrifice your values, you will encounter that elevating release you spoke about, a catharsis in every work. Being alive is easy. Thriving takes work, but with your cauldron you can transform work into play. A person should labor, but labor with love. Love is everything. Love.”

“Lydia, you have this all figured out at 27, don’t you? We could debate…but for what? I know you are exactly right! I haven’t been truly happy as an architect since my first assignment. But, I can tell you that Adrian’s lodge was something extraordinary. I did take that to heart. My mind was never on money during that project. No other client has ever let me be so original in my work. For that experiment, I think Adrian was my Philosopher’s Stone.”

“I KNEW you understood alchemy better than you let on,” Lydia quipped.

“I’ve quite the interest in alchemy and the spiritual alchemists of the Renaissance and Enlightenment. I just never thought of taking the concept outside of the laboratory or a spiritual path. I can’t believe, Lydia, how much you have just opened my heart and have blown me away! Thank you!”

By then she had returned to the sectional and, again sitting beside me, took a slow sip of tea while looking me in the eye.

“You know something I really like about you, Patrick?”

“What’s that?”

“You let me pierce your soul. You let me look into your eyes without yours darting away. Most people can’t do that for long. You give me time to swim in that sea of your brilliance.” She paused for a moment, and then, “ I, too, am enamored with you. Are you…are you seeing anybody right now?”

My heart raced and I said, “Well, no!”

“OK. This may sound absolutely crazy, but I want you to consider it. After a short pause, she burst out with this: “Come with me to Paris! If not tomorrow, shortly after. Take six months to consider a change from the construction of buildings to the exploration and expansion of your heart and soul. You can stay with me. I want to know you as much as you want to know me, I assure you.”

“Oh my God, Lydia. That…that sounds fantastic! But…I…can’t just leave my active projects behind. If I had no work, I would go in a heartbeat! I have two buildings under construction and drawings on a third due in one month, with meetings every week. I could not do that from Paris. I can’t just walk away from that. It would destroy my reputation and future work.”

“I’m not going to try to convince you, Patrick. I love your integrity. You see, that is precisely what would ensure that you will succeed in true happiness. However, one does have to make a leap of faith from one path, financial security, to the roller coaster instability of life as an artist. It is this risk and the discomfort of the risk which often prevents people from seizing opportunities. Sadly, they never know how truly happy they can be.”

“I wish I could. I really do.” I was feeling quite dejected. She lifted my chin up slightly, quickly kissed me and said, “Now, how about that game of chess?”

We played three games until nearly midnight. I won the first game. She won the second. We tied the third. Clearly she was an expert as well. I wasn’t distracted that much even though the butterflies in my stomach were fluttering the whole time. I knew I would not walk away from my active business deals. It’s not who I was. But, at the same time, I knew this woman was meant to be in my life. I wanted to live together with her, to face life’s obstacles with her just as much as to enjoy the pleasures. I felt like I was making a stupid decision. My heart said it was wrong, but I followed my brain. For me at that time, integrity was an intellectual virtue. I did not yet understand integrity of the heart.

After the chess, I thought I should leave, even without saying goodnight to Kathleen; there was no sign of her all evening. Lydia could bid farewell for me. She had a morning plane to catch and I didn’t know that earlier, or I wouldn’t have kept her up so late. We had an emotional kiss on the front porch before I walked away.

Lydia said, “I will write you. I will send you those photographs. You will write me. I’ll keep you updated on my commission and maybe we can see each other in six months.”

The moment seemed so cliché, but there was always…always a light of hope that never extinguished.

To be continued…

Is this the end? Will Lydia and Patrick ever meet again?
Stay tuned for the conclusion!

© 2018 Michael Armenia