This month, we will sell our house and move into another, smaller house.
Part of the reason we are selling, the part we usually tell people, is that with my son going to college in the fall, this house is simply too big. That much is mostly true, even though that space is frequently filled with friends and family, and, eventually, could be filled with more family.
The other, truer part is that if we did not reduce our monthly expenses, my need to return to paid employment would be imminent and our living expenses would need to be even more sharply curtailed.
We have lived in this home for almost 11 years. We moved here at the height of our combined income-earning potential–when I was close to being an AVP after 10 or so years at the corporation and Joe had just merged his small consulting business with a larger firm. This house, while technically not more than we could afford at the time, certainly pushed the limit of what we were able to do with our time and money.
I had expected Joe’s business merger to be much more profitable than it was. Instead, his business and income was steady but not transformational, my raises were generous but predictable, and we worked away while my son and daughter grew up with opportunities and advantages that we did not.
When Joe sold that business in 2015, I announced that I would quit my corporate job. In 2016, after my annual bonus, I did just that.
The income drought from his lack of start-up salary has been longer than expected. After two years we are eating through the cushion afforded by the sale of his business, my corporate bonuses, and the small life insurance from Joe’s father’s death in early 2016.
It’s been a good 11 years in this home. We have made heart-friends who will remain heart-friends. We have hosted Christmas parties and prom parties, so many sleepovers and countless dinner parties. We have grilled on the veranda in the rain.
We have paid exorbitant taxes (income and property).
Lately, I have amassed a variety of rejections from fine magazines, including an Honorable Mention (but no publication) from one and detailed, generous feedback from another. In the past two days, I have been rejected from two magazines as well as by a prestigious literary conference.
In June, I attend a writing conference in NYC. Our realtor, who is also an established author of southern women’s fiction, is reading my manuscript on her way to North Africa.
Joe’s current business venture is a longitudinal study of the ups and downs of a tech-based start-up. Reshuffling of the owners and pivoting to a new focus. Lawyers. Good news, good tech, then a set-back with Facebook. Promising leads with investors, then the follow through and a lower investment than anticipated.
Sometimes I dream not just of publication, but recognition. Of Reese Witherspoon turning my book into a movie or acknowledgement via respected literary awards.
Joe dreams of selling his company to other, bigger companies who are in the business of acquiring promising tech.
For now, we keep moving. Adjusting, submitting, revising, working. Smiling at the crumbs and thrilling at the serendipity that sustain us.
I choose this grind over the other.
I would rather be rejected by a magazine than struggling toward a promotion.
I would rather live in a quaint house than a grand one if I can live my own days by my own terms.
I would rather be stymied by the writing and publishing world than frustrated by corporate politics.
I will remember the years of working in a corporate world, the lingering student loan debt from graduate school, the down-sizing and re-prioritizing. Joe and I will remember the weekly slog of setbacks and steam-forwards.
Someday, if I am successful (whatever successful means), I will remember the grind. The grind–I suspect, I hope–is only just beginning.