A Parable Inspired by Mark Mio

On living offline and online.

Photo by Taneli Lahtinen

Owning two houses is great, right? You have more equity, more space — lots of advantages! Imagine the two houses are built right next to one another and that both of them are two stories high. Great! But wait, who’s going to clean them? Keeping a house up is a big deal: floors to mop, bathrooms to clean, paint to keep from chipping, rugs to vacuum — it’s no small task (it’s easy to see why so many people prefer renting). Could you hire a maid? Maybe, but that costs…a lot…

So, you spend a day cleaning the house! Well, a house: all the work you put into one house has nothing to do with the cleanliness of the other. It sure would be nice if this wasn’t the case, but this is life. You put your head down and get the job done.

One house sparkling, you go to bed, wake up, and start cleaning the next house. Well, for a few minutes — you have a job, after all. So you go to work at the wholesale and try to squeak out a living, come home tired, and realize you hardly started cleaning the upstairs bathroom. There’s black mold. Black mold is bad.

A month goes by, and you’re exhausted. But, somehow, you manage to get both houses completely cleaned! You’re thrilled with yourself. You sit outside on your porch and enjoy (one of) your yards. Did you lock the windows upstairs? You tell yourself to stop thinking about it. Wait, is the car inspected? When were quarterly taxes due? Hush, hush! Just sit here and enjoy the evening! You sip on some sweet tea and, finally, your mind calms.

What a good day.

That night, the electricity goes out. In both houses. You call up the power company, and they assure you that they’ll get right on it. And was that a trashcan falling over? You look out the window; the neighbor’s dog is enjoying last night’s hotdogs. The neighbor comes over and apologies, and trying to be sociable, he asks why you let the grass grow so tall in your (second) house. You say it takes hours to cut and weed-eat one house, so you alternate week to week. He reminds you it’s your duty to keep both of your houses looking pristine, basically implying you’re lazy (when there’s always something to do).

You go to one of your houses and sit inside and think about how you never get a vacation. But you have a lot of equity! Well, that only manifests if you sell one of your houses, and that means someone must want to buy it. Surely that day will come, right? For now though, you see all the mail on your table and realize you have bills, yard work, and dishes to do — and what you do for one house won’t help you with the other, and from the neighbor’s point of view, you hardly work on your house at all. After all, there’s always one you’re not working on...

You sit back in your chair and look up at the ceiling. Could you sell one of your houses? The price was hardly above what you bought it for, and considering all the time you put into it, you practically lost money. Maybe you could downsize? But then not as many people would be as interested in buying it. You sigh. Before you started your second house, did you feel like you had a home? Maybe you’ll feel like you have two homes soon enough…Maybe…

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Write Launch. Iowa. Broken Pencil. Allegory. Streetlight. Ponder. Pidgeonholes. W&M. Poydras. Toho. ellipsis. Open. UNO Finalist. Pushcart Nominee. ogrose.com

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