- DH = dear husband
- DD1, DD2, DD3 = dear daughters – first, second, and third
“Even so quickly may one catch the plague?” That’s one of Olivia’s lines from Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. A very eligible young lady, Olivia discourages the advances of an equally eligible bachelor. Steadfast in her determination to remain single, she is taken aback by her sudden attraction to Cesario, her suitor’s servant. The “plague” to which she refers is romantic love – a love that turns her world upside down. But all ends well (except for a poor fellow named Malvolio).
“The plague” DH and I have caught in this last week has likewise been unexpected, sudden, powerful, and one that has turned our world upside down. And while it doesn’t involve Olivia’s particular affliction, it is a matter of the heart. Here’s the back story:
Urban dream vs. suburban reality
Ever since my late teens, I’ve wished to live in the urban centre of my city. I grew up in a west-end suburb, and every time I went downtown, I just felt more alive. I remember cycling along the canal into the urban core, looking at all of the houses that lined it, hoping that “some day” one of them would be my home.
By my late twenties, I had a teaching position in a suburb even farther west than the one of my childhood – way farther. And when I met DH, he worked in the same area, so it made sense for us to settle in the burbs. And we did.
In the years to come, career upheaval (the prologue to our debt story) would send us all over the city map in terms of where we worked, but we continued to raise our family in the suburban “dream home” we’d maxed out on. Eventually, DH started a business, and our big house became an unintended blessing. There was no need for him to rent office space; he worked from home.
DH = team suburban
DH has always known about my dream to live in an urban setting, but he has never shared it. “Streets are always under construction downtown,” he’s pointed out many times. “And why would you want an old, cramped house that’s falling apart when you can have a spacious new one?”
There’s no arguing people into wanting to live in one type of area instead of another. Rural dwellers love the open spaces of the country. Urban dwellers thrive on the pulse of the city. And suburban dwellers value the tidy order of their communities – that is, if all of the above are living where they want to live. Many of us compromise because of finances, work, family – and that’s part of life. I have certainly accepted our suburb, but DH hasn’t talked me out of my love for the urban centre – and I haven’t tried to talk him into it.
We’ve now lived in our home for 20 years, and we’re just a few months away from paying it off. We’re also within a year or two of retirement and an empty nest. Looking ahead, DH and I haven’t had a shared vision. Against my suggestions of “some day” downsizing to a downtown condo, DH has argued that it would cost more than our house and that he doesn’t want to be “stuck in a small box in a high-rise in a concrete jungle.” When he has suggested downsizing to a townhouse or a condo in our area, I have been equally resistant.
So in the absence of another plan, we’ve envisioned staying put. We’ve realized that the house will seem awfully big and empty once DH dismantles his office (which takes up half of our first floor) and DD3 moves out. Perhaps in the future, visiting grandchildren would fill it. But DD1 has been studying and working on the west coast for years, and who knows where our younger two will choose to live in the days to come – let alone if any will go the route of marriage and children. In fact, for the near future, DD2 is living and working downtown – where DD3 plans to move …
DH’s surprising turn-around
Last month I told DH about a new condo development near a vegan restaurant where DD2 had treated me for Mother’s Day – not downtown, but pretty close to it. DH was receptive to a suggestion for change just at that point. He was feeling burned out from work, and the idea of moving to a place where he couldn’t possibly keep his business going appealed to him.
A week ago, we went to the sales office to check it out, and what we saw blew DH away. This was no “box in a high-rise in a concrete jungle.” The development has many of the positives of the suburbs that have always been a draw for him – new, tidy, open, within view of green spaces.
We have talked of almost nothing else since stopping by (twice) last weekend.
- Which model would we get?
- Would we need two bedrooms or three?
- When should we plan to move?
- How much is our house worth now?
- What do we have to do to make our house sale-ready?
- How long will it take DH to wind down his business?
- Should I work an extra year?
DH is actually having a hard time sleeping with this sudden fixation. He told me today that he sometimes wakes up in the middle of the night thinking about something like where the sofa should go in one of the models we’re considering. “The main reason I want to make this happen is that I’m excited to see one of your life-long dreams come true,” he said. Some men are generally sweet, but DH is not one of them. So when he says something sweet, it’s really sweet.
Friday night we drove over to the construction site, parked the car, and walked around for hours. And we felt alive.
Even so quickly may one catch the plague?
Just as Shakespeare knew there was always a risk in love (“the plague” was one of several diseases he used to describe it) we know there are risks in a move based on the heart. I especially do not want to mess up financially, but I also want to live the freedom we’ve been working towards. We’re going to take this vision and go with it, and we’re going to be grounded in all that we’ve learned over the last 6 years of debt payoff.
- We will not put money down on a condo model that is more expensive than the current worth of our home. Our plans do not involve a mortgage.
- Though we’ve considered it, we will not buy an additional smaller unit to rent out. Again, no mortgage!
- Our planned move is later rather than sooner. DD3 will move out of her childhood home when she’s ready (and she is ready). We’ll have time to wrap up our careers and get the house de-cluttered and sale-ready.
- We’ve discussed worst case scenarios, and only if we’re ready to absorb them will we move forward. We’d have to commit well in advance of moving, and there are inherent risks in that kind of arrangement. House won’t sell? We sell the condo. House won’t sell for the price of the condo? I work longer.
“What is decreed must be, and be this so.”
Olivia is full of self doubt as she realizes that she has fallen in love. “I do I know not what, and fear to find / Mine eye too great a flatterer for my mind.” But she knows there is something greater than herself at work, and so she lets go of doubt and is released into the abundant overflow of her heart. “Fate, show thy force: ourselves we do not owe / What is decreed must be, and be this so.”
All ends well for Olivia. I have high hopes for the same to be true for us!
Have you ever found yourself surprised by a sudden longing – for a move or a career change … or love – that turned your world upside down? Do you see a connection between debt-freedom and these types of moves of the heart? Your comments are welcome