Monday, September 26, 2011

Difficult Conversations

View of Three Peaks at Sunrise

We spent the weekend at the cabin. It was relaxing and rejuvenating. We hiked to two peaks and observed how many more houses there are out here now than when we first started coming. We took the good morning world walk.* We read and cooked excellent meals and drank red wine by the bonfire and watched the sunrises and sunsets. We took stock of all of the projects we need to do on the house. We napped in the middle of the day. It was wonderful.

We also had some difficult conversations. What if we sell this place?

When we were younger and more idealistic, we thought that someday soon we’d be able to live full time at the cabin. We have spent hours dreaming about our life on the mesa. We’ll work at the ski valley in the winter and for the BLM in the gorge in the summers. We won’t make much money, but our expenses will be low. We’ll spend our in-between time writing our books – the historic ranches of New Mexico for me and a mystery book for Andrew. We’ll awake at sunrise and our days will be measured by how much wood we cut and how many pages we write. We’ll have lots of time for hiking and exploring, camping and getting our exercise outdoors. I will cook amazing meals, and I’ll learn to can the vegetables we grow in our raised bed. We’ll divert the water down the hill and have a small patch of grass and a couple of trees. We’ll go into town once a week to do our laundry and eat out and buy groceries. Life on the mesa will be tough at times, but we’ll be comforted by the fact that we’re not working 40-hour a week jobs in an office and sitting behind a desk. We’ll have everything we need, and that will be enough. We’ll give up traveling on planes and buying stuff, but that seems like a small trade.

Lately, this life seems more and more unrealistic – at least any time soon. We’re not making nearly as much money as we deserve or were planning on when we went to graduate school. We live in a crazy expensive town. We have student loans and a mortgage. Last week I heard on NPR that it will be at least a decade before people our age recover from this recession. Getting ahead enough to make such a big change seems out of our reach at this point. On the other hand, if we sell the cabin, we could pay off all of our debt except for the mortgage. We could drastically reduce our reliance on our full time jobs. We could change our lives.

I’m really attached to the mesa, and we’ve poured so much of ourselves emotionally and financially into this place. This is such a special place to me and us. This is ours, and that’s an amazing feeling. When we paid it off last spring, I remember feeling a sense of relief. Relief that we didn’t have to make payments any longer, but also relief that if something terrible happened and we lost our jobs or got sick or had a major life event, we always have this little piece of land that we own outright. We always have a place to go. We’ll never be dans la rue.

This isn’t really a conversation I want to have, but I appreciate that it is a conversation worth having. Andrew always says that making no decision is the same as making the decision to do nothing. If I were married to someone a whole lot more like me, I’d honestly be happy doing nothing and just staying on this course, moving forward with plans we made years ago and not questioning it. Thank goodness I married someone so different who challenges me in ways I wouldn’t do for myself. (Even though some days I think WHY can’t we just do things MY WAY!!!)

It will be a tough decision no matter what we decide.

*named by our friend Jeremy years ago. It always makes me feel like a big hippie to call it that, but the name has stuck.


  1. I so hope you don't have to sell your cabin. We've only owned ours for six months but it's become very special to us.

    We've had conversations about what circumstances it would take for us to sell it and there aren't many that don't include catastrophic health issues, of which we hope to not have. But I get all whiny and upset during them because I hate the idea of uprooting something that's becoming a big part of our life.

    Since it's paid for, perhaps you guys could think of it as an inexpensive luxury at this time rather than your ticket out of debt?

  2. Beth - Yes, i hate the thought of uprooting a big part of our life too. It's not really a matter of having to sell it, it's a matter of deliberately deciding to keep it and continue on this plan or give it up and be able to live a life closer to what we want day to day. We've been thinking a lot lately about living abroad and traveling or working part time and writing books for a living, and this could be a way to do it. As hard as it would be, it could be a really positive change, but we'll see. We're just starting to consider it, and being there this weekend really brought it to the forefront. Thanks for your comment.

  3. Oh wow - that is a really tough decision! Paying down debt sounds amazing but obviously you guys get a lot out of your land/cabin. I love the idea of having a place to get away, if we stay in AZ long term I'd like to get a little place in the mountains where we can escape the summer heat. This is probably a situation where there is no right answer...those are always the hardest!

  4. Yes. We have our little cabin too and had fantasies of living there full time and being poor and happy as hell. Then we bought a house in the city that is almost more cabin-y than the cabin. People constantly ask us if we are going to sell the cabin and for now the answer is no. We still see ourselves living at the cabin full time- someday. And like you, ours is paid off so there is no hurry. We are doing nothing for now...


Hey, thank you!

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