Thursday, September 7, 2017

Worth nothing

Back in May, Grey and I made the decision to once again list our condo in Seattle for sale. Given that the first time had ended so poorly due to a borderline unethical move by our then management company with the resale certificate language (written to maximize profits for them and their partners on a pending massive maintenance project for the building while potentially bankrupting the association), we where feeling pretty hopeless about being able to sell. Still, our rental manager encouraged us to try, promoting a strategy of complete transparency to any perspective buyer prior to accepting any offers.

So we gave the go ahead with listing and held our breath. Two days later, right before the planned open house, we had an unexpectedly good offer. And though we spent the next month holding our breath, waiting for all of it to fall apart, closing was actually painless and we finalized the sale two days earlier than expected.

The evening the money from the sale was wired to us, Grey and I sat down with a bottle of whiskey and our laptops. Within 30 minutes, we both sat back and looked at one another in disbelief. After years of sliding deep into debt, first with the condo, then infertility and paying for treatments (and mental/emotion health support due to that trauma) out of pocket and finally shouldering more debt due to parenting twins, we found ourselves in a place we hadn't planned for for at least another 3-5 years.

We had paid off all our debts. We were worth nothing.

The past couple of months have been a bit surreal given this new reality. Though initially it may seem like nothing has changed, daily decisions have. Instead of stressing about moving debt around and making sure all bills are paid on time, we now only have a handful to be mindful of. Canceling credit cards has been a fun experience, with customer care seemingly baffled that I no longer want to keep open accounts that don't serve a purpose (to me at least). The idea that we can actually have a saving account, can focus on building retirement, put together college savings accounts for the Beats and (most shocking) actually be saving to purchase a house is still something I struggle to grasp. But most striking is the lightness I feel. That I know Grey feels. One truly never understands the burden they carry until suddenly the weight and pain are gone.

It's odd to be in this place of privilege. It's something I'm increasingly mindful of, not only given all we've been through but also knowing full well that the majority of this people in this country (and the world) are in a similar boat. We live in a world where resources are far from evenly distributed, with so many having to chose between essential needs like food, housing, medical care and even clothing, while far fewer flaunt their excess. And yet, we aren't allowed to really have conversations about this. Just beginning them usually results in people adamantly how actually they are the exceptions, actively fighting this notion that somehow they may actually be part of an elite and privileged-class. Or that the 2016 election was actually fueled by this as so many who are struggling just to make ends meet have felt unheard and forgotten by this country's leadership. How though many claim they are integrating, the truth is there's still this separation due to branding and gentrification.

The question that Grey and I now face is how to balance this. The reality is, though we were privileged to be able to find a way to pay for fertility treatments and childcare, we shouldn't have had to. I'm acutely aware that there are so many that would not have been able to do what we did, even though doing so was a great sacrifice. Additional, there are many who are finding their ways of life eroding. One could argue that they are solely responsible due to lack of education or unwillingness to undergo job retraining, but when teachers, first responders and many workers who power our cities and daily lives can no longer live in the communities they support, we've got a big problem. So how to do we counter the "separate" mentality that has been growing? How can we promote what we want to see without sacrificing ourselves in the process?

Honestly, it's something I'm really struggling with. I don't want to become that person who stands in front of someone, telling them I understand when what I'm actually doing is silencing them and their reality. My goal is to build with people, create a community where we are supporting one another and fostering a future where we all can see ourselves in. But I also know I no longer can do so with sacrificing myself and my family entirely in the process. This week has been a reminder of that, with meetings involving some amazing community leaders and builders. To see them model this way of life and what they are growing. But there's also been the reminders with the interactions with our new neighbors. The community spirit and support they have been fostering and how they've welcomed Grey, the Beats and I into it as if the most natural thing in the world. But doing so with the clear understanding that a lot of this building together requires finding like minded people. This screening that happens out of necessity to find those who will support the efforts to build and grow with while severing the ties with those who clearly aren't.

Because the reality is, there's a lot to be said about being in this place where we're worth nothing. To finally be able to refocus and rebuild. Its something that I hope so many more are able to find themselves in soon. A privilege that shouldn't be limited only to select few.


  1. Congratulations on this exciting development! I can imagine the feeling of lightness that comes when a weight you've been dragging around goes away.

    I'm watching the news now about the fires, the floods, the earthquake, the hurricanes. Rebuilding is going to be a hot topic in the coming months -- for many.

  2. Oh, congratulations on selling the condo & getting rid of a pile of debt!! Dh & I carried around some credit card debt for quite a few years & it was such a relief when we were finally able to get that monkey off our back. I gather you have also found a new place to live that's a better fit for you. Here's to new beginnings!

  3. "We had paid off all our debts. We were worth nothing." This made me smile. Congratulations! You're right, it is a privilege. But you shouldn't feel guilty about it. After all, it's not that you don't want others to be able to get where you are. You do. So you should celebrate it.

  4. Congratulations! That is so exciting and wonderful that you've been able to get out from under that particular weight. It sounds like you're asking good questions as well and working to find ways to help others also get to that place.


Design by Small Bird Studios | All Rights Reserved