Thursday, June 30, 2005

817 S.Quincy - Month 14

Marriage is similar to running a small business. There are subordinates to manage, finances to control, property to maintain and appointments to schedule and attend. Pretty soon the dreams that created the entity can become lost. The hopes and plans can disappear into the day-to-day maintenance of the business. Sometimes the CEO and COO have to arrange for a meeting to talk about the big issues in the corporation.

Early last week, Chris asked me to get a sitter for that Friday night so that we could go for a hike and talk about our vacation home in Green Bay. I believe the house presents itself as the nucleus of all the stress and anxiety that probably hangs over our life on an every day basis, but isn’t overtly noticed or discussed. Almost every time we try to discuss anything related to the house, the conversation becomes loud and argumentative at the most – tense at the least. Some weeks I’ll want to lowball the price and take a huge loss, while others I’ll want to maintain status quo and wait the SHITTY Green Bay housing market out. Usually he’ll be at the opposite spectrum that I am which causes a lot of the strife. We are currently “investing” approximately $2,000 a month into this lovely property. Obviously this has to end.

Hiking, for the first time sans preschoolers, we ascended the Rattlesnake Gulch trail. I didn’t bring my camera because it was a business meeting after all. The first mile we talked superficially about heart rates and fitness, the condition of the trail and upcoming events on the family calendar. About a mile in, I broke the peace and descended into a scary place called Real Life. “I called the mortgage guy.” “When?” he responded. “A few days ago. He really yelled at me.” Aghast he asked, “Why would Eric yell at you?” (Eric is a high school buddy of Chris’.) “He raised his voice, after we had talked awhile, and asked me to tell him what happens when you dig a hole. Then he asked me what happens when you keep on digging. The conversation ended with these words ringing in my ears – ‘IT GETS DEEPER!’” Chris and I finally agreed to re-list with a broker. We had terrible luck with the last one and now the price is so low – we really can’t afford to use one. According to Eric, however, we can’t afford not to. About an hour into our hike we were joined by a snake. As we rounded a bend, there was a white-ish snake with criss-crosses on its back and rings around its tail. We don’t know if it was a rattlesnake or not, but it sure scared me. Small, but it had it’s head and tail up and stared at us menacingly. Similar to our real estate dilemma, we were at a loss for what to do. We couldn’t go back – the trail dead-ended. We couldn’t go forward. We had to wait it out.

I’m particularly angry and anxious about our predicament. I am told constantly that this is out of my control and that worrying is misguided. I agree, but don’t know how else to be. How can I not worry about the loss of money that affects us daily? How can I not be angry over the loss of all the equity I’ve earned over the years on houses I owned before I even knew Chris? How can I not worry about being able to even attain a loan to cover our loss, if we do ever sell, for that potential closing? How can I not worry about the terrible toll this has taken on my family? How can I not be angry over this entire thing? I have asked many of my close friends, colleagues and hell – anyone who will listen, why they think this happened. More specifically – what am I supposed to be learning from this? No one has given me an answer I am satisfied with.

Life is really hard. Keeping up with the day-to-day business of running a family is exhausting. Throw in an extra stressor or two, and it can throw people like me over the edge.

As I laughed and danced a lot during my four days in Nashville, I felt strange. I thought it might be because I was unencumbered by my kids. Or I thought that it might be because I was in a really fun city with great nightlife. No, I think that strange feeling was happiness. My boss even commented on how great it was to see me smile. I was genuinely joyful. I felt in control of my time, my money, and my decision-making.

As a kid, I remember having occasional family meetings when we had to discuss big issues. I think all families need to do that. Maybe they should even generate an annual report to assess yearly progress towards short and long term goals. Possibly, if we had done more of this we would not be in the situation we are in. Hindsight is 20/20. I HATE that. I am not good with not knowing what the future brings. I think if I were granted three wishes, one of them might be to see into the future. Knowing the outcome in life would sure save the energy I waste worrying. I want to be more carefree, as I was in Tennessee, more often.

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