Friday, December 15, 2006

My First Beau's... (Paycheck, that is)

On November 30th I took my very first paycheck from Beau's, and Nicola and I and the kids have moved into a modest apartment in Vankleek Hill. I'm torn a million ways about it - Did you ever play Yay/Boo as a kid?

I'm living on main street in VKH = yay
I'm back to being a tenant = boo
Landlord seems ok = yay
Place is pretty small and basic = boo

But its more space than we've had since moving back to start the business = yay

Before starting the brewery, I was working as a business-planning manager for the Ontario Government. Good pay, interesting work, great team behind and in front of me. I liked living in the Big City, owned a house with my wife, Nicola, along with our toddler, Ruby, and we had another child on the way.

On Feb. 17th, I spent my last day at my job. On Feb. 24th my wife gave birth to our second child, Vivien. On Feb. 27th we were both officially unemployed-- and without any income, we couldn't afford a place of our own.

Ah, the excitement of starting a business.

We spent the first seven months living back at my parents' house. In many ways this was great, lots of extra help with the kids, easier on the wallet, etc...thanks mom and dad. Then when we got an opportunity to house-sit out in the country, we thought that would be a fun thing to do and would give us all a little breathing room, which is always healthy.

The country life was fun too, hearing the cows going out to pasture in the morning, watching out for wild turkeys on the road, and showing Ruby the skunk that came by for a visit. Having some good friends for next door neighbours was also really cool.

But with both these situations, it still really felt like life was on hold. 90% of our stuff was sitting in boxes in the basement and, while I'm not terribly materialistic, I had a growing urge to put my art back up on the walls, use my pots and pans again and have a nice group* over for supper at "my place." (*Jen says, good luck finding a nice group. Call us when you're out of ideas.)

So, when the house-sat couple came back from their vacation down south, 9 months after coming to Vankleek Hill, we finally rented an apartment with my first paycheck, and were able to unpack our things from Toronto and move in.

The biggest thing that I'm torn up about, though, is the paycheck itself. I ask myself: Can I afford to be a salaried employee? Could I live off less pay? But on the other hand, what about my wife Nicola? She's given up so much for me to pursue my dream and what have I given her in return? A drafty two-bedroom apartment and a family income about 1/3 of what it would be had we stayed in Toronto. I've developed a response, which is becoming somewhat of a mantra for me: It's just temporary, it's just temporary, it's just temporary...

The brewery is still growing more or less how we hoped - always hiccups and headaches, but overall things are continuing to move very positively. I just find that taking a salary somehow feels dirty--like charging my babies rent.

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