My husband and I just celebrated our second anniversary. To be fair to myself, I didn’t actually lie on the floor and kick and scream until my face turned blue.
I did, however, break a promise to him.
“We’re going over to the East Side to watch the fireworks,” he had said. “This is a friend borrowing a banker’s pied-à-terre, so you have to promise me that you won’t throw a fit out of real estate envy.”
“I promise,” I had said.
And of course I lied like a dog, because who wouldn’t have been jealous of two-and-a-half baths, a wrap terrace, and so many closets that the occupants could obviously choose which stuff of theirs they wanted to look at?
So I came home and sulked; at 1,300 square feet (more than twice what we live in) the apartment seemed huge. It was certainly not large enough for a family with multiple children but it would have done nicely for us. I calculated in my brain: if it costs $10,000 a month, that’s $120,000 a year, so hubby and I would only have to make $450,000 between us…”why don’t we do that?” I asked him.
“You promised me you wouldn’t sulk,” he said.
Pouting aside, we have gotten through our second year together okay. I folded my business in New Jersey and started working in New York; that was tough, it was like one too many starting overs, but it seemed to “take” a little better. I started building a business by showing open houses and servicing clients I picked up (good as a tutorial though nothing caught fire); becoming a member of an Internet community and making inroads with high-end renters (better, especially the time I got a $6,000 rental commission); and working with my inner circle of friends and referrals (best, leading to my first sale and prolonged exposure to a celeb who I hope will bring me many more).
Also, my writing career heated up again as these columns got published as a book. In some ways that made Year Two about me, me, me (picture Norma Desmond with big sunglasses on, trying to type) but my husband is a wonderful critic and a sensitive editor so he got involved in that creative project. When we said our vows two years ago, we did not foresee any of these detours, but at least we’re taking them together.
There was sad stuff, too: his new job (same company) involves more travel, so we newlyweds have had to learn how to be apart a little more. (Again, too much starting over! We were just getting good at learning how to be together.) My mom broke her hip and had a really bad time, including an unsuccessful surgery and a blood transfusion with complications, so there’s been a lot of stress on that front. She has worked her way up to using a walker now, but her immune system is still pretty shot and she seems awfully frail for my mom. This was never a woman who was going to hike Everest but there was a robustness to her that comes and goes now, and I frankly look forward to the days when she feels strong enough to pick on me.
We are coming out of the financial woods, although way more slowly than I would like. The score last year was mortgage debt $528K, high-interest debt $30.2K, and the score now is mortgage debt $518K, high interest debt $23.4K. The beach house — I have an investment property that accounts for half the mortgage debt — has a new bathroom, which makes the tenants happy, although there is some slight sloping upstairs that’s going to have to be addressed the next time a big check comes through.
Other than that, there was fun: we saw Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson, and went to Broadway plays and saw Shakespeare in the Park. We went to four weddings and thankfully no funerals, and marched in the Greenwich Village Halloween parade. I turned 40 and then we took a weekend and went hiking in the snow, which is very uncharacteristic for us but provided the literal breath of fresh air we both needed.
For the next year, the first goal is, of course, stay married. That one is both more time-consuming and more rewarding than it ever looked from the outside. My other goals are varied: I want to move (hubby is willing but has to work around my ambivalence) and I want us to figure the kid thing out. I want one of my high-end renters to buy a condo (I had a “close, but no cigar” on a $5 million deal my first year, and that may have done bad things for my expectations). Whether or not I land a big deal, I want to pay off my credit cards for the first time in four years. I would like to give my husband a little room to breathe financially, partly because his creative juices are fired and it may be his turn to write a book.
I realize, of course, that this is all a pretty big list to get through in a year. The only way to do it will be by working my tail off, and applying a laser-like focus so I get to exactly where I’m trying to go. In order to do that, let me start with a vow to my husband: I’ll start by freeing myself of the burden of perfectionism. I won’t try to make any more promises I can’t keep. We’re on the road for the adventure, year three — but there may be some sulking along the way.
Alison Rogers is a licensed salesperson, and author of “Diary of a Real Estate Rookie.”