Mitch bought an investment house in 2014 to rebuild and then rent. He has been working away on it steadily in his spare time since then. Three long years. Every Saturday. Off to the house on Roy street to beat back decay, restructure nonsense, make things work, and solve problems over and over. In the midst of renovating old "Roy" as we call the house, Mitch met and married me, renovated our apartment at Worthington Manor, became a father, and moved us to our first home. Always, among the other balls in the air, he's been juggling Roy.
Then, three weeks ago, Mitch cut down to part time hours at work, to spend the rest of his time finishing the house. He is working 4 paid hours, then going to the house to work another 6. We're living on half of what we normally do, and he's working 10-hour days during the week, and going back again on Saturdays. It's been mostly brutal for three years, and now it's beyond that.
This kind of project and lifestyle gets sold big to kids our age. It sounds epic and noble to take on the things that intimidate us. "Investing" is recommended as a path for the wise. "Go big, or go home. All or nothing. Succeed or die trying." It sounds glamorous, or at the very least impressive. And it seems the only alternative is for weak or lazy people. Then again, when we are too exhausted to go on a date, too busy to host our friends, looking at the bank account again, and trying not to fight because we know it's the money/time/energy pinch talking...we wonder if this is the way.
Some days I think yes. The very real possibility that we look like fools is there. We've been afraid that this was a bad investment that looks worse the longer it takes. There's been times along the way we weren't sure we could finish, and many days we knew that whether we did or didn't there would be regret. While these are uncomfortable feelings and conversations, they do make us feel alive. They demand constant interaction with our own fear. Our own egos. As we wrestle with them, we surrender the outcome—looking impressive or foolish, finishing or not, succeeding or failing. These vulnerable parts bond us to one another. When I consider this side of it, I believe we are living our values. Those are the days I try to embrace this project, and accept this pace that we cannot sustain forever. I hold up this dream with Mitch and cheer him on. You can do it babe. You got this. We're not going anywhere. It's going to be epic.
Other days I wonder if we've lost ourselves to the hustle, seduced by the promise of glory, too embarrassed to admit defeat. The days when Mitch doesn't see Phoenix at all. The weeks we go without having a meal together. The long stretches without intimacy or conversation, I count the cost and come up short. We have always valued margin in our time and finances. And right now we have neither. We want to be gentle, kind, and patient with each other and often aren't. We want time for reflection and spirituality, and god forbid, fun. When we miss those things again and again, I damn the wretched ambition that brought us here.
Today, we're weeks from the end, and have chosen to follow through. So I set intentions for the days when old Roy is done and has become a home for a family. I think about long Saturday mornings, just the three of us, strolling the farmer's market and then napping on the porch in the afternoon as a rainstorm blows in. I look forward to conversations that don't involve stain colors or floor plan changes or failed inspections. I imagine my husband's blue eyes without the weariness, and his confidence restored because of all he has overcome, rather than weakened by all he still has to face.
This blog is a place to share our makeshift lives as they unfold. This is one of the big things I wrestle with. No firm opinion, no set conclusions. I have my doubts. I wonder about the glorification of the hustle. I'm skeptical about the pursuit of the dream. I measure and weigh the cost constantly. At the end of most days, I'm overwhelmed with pride and admiration for Mitch's grit, and I love him for it. Then, I count down the short weeks left until it's over and we can talk about all this, the good and the bad. We'll reflect and learn from the experience, and then press onward, knowing full well the way won't always be as obvious as we'd like.