The Conversation that Should Have Been

The conversation that should have been

The nearly finished Salgado home in Tijuana Mexico which was built in a single day

In last week's newsletter, I promised to talk about the home I helped build in Mexico, why conversations matter, and how I ended up going to the desert this past week. They are all related.
The house you see in the photo is the one we built in a day; it usually takes two days. We built it for the Salgado family to relieve a crisis situation with no other practical solutions. The tent in the photo is where the family stayed for a couple of weeks while preparing the land and guarding the building materials. With plans to build a new house, the family moved out of a similar-sized home where four generations lived under the same roof. Can you imagine? It was a difficult situation at best and warranted a mid-COVID era emergency home build. The US crew is typically 12 to 20 people, and the people from Mexico are usually in the single digits. This time around, five of us from the US and countless people from Mexico showed up to build. The concrete foundation had been poured the week before, and by the time I arrived, two exterior walls had already been framed. We split up into teams and got to work. The team I was on assembled trusses next to another team who were painting siding and trim pieces. The framers built the walls on the foundation, and by mid-morning, we were raising the walls into place and lifting up the trusses.
So now, what does "conversations matter" have to do with building a house in Mexico? This is my Mea Culpa and where you get more of the full story. I have a 26-year-old Toyota Land Cruiser that I had taken to Tijuana several months ago to be painted. At the outset, the plan was to make a day trip across the border to pick up my newly painted truck and return straight home. The plan evolved into adding a one-day home build for the Salgado family, something I got excited about. We were taking the typical safety precautions of wearing masks and using lots of hand sanitizer. Plus, those of us from the US were not sharing tools, we brought our own, and did not work inside the house once the walls were up.
Through my excitement, I didn't think of having a conversation with my wife about building a house. It was only the night before I left that she learned about building a house being added to picking up my truck. I wasn't hiding anything. I've done so many home-builds that it didn't seem out of the ordinary. Lesson learned, in the age of COVID, not much of anything is ordinary anymore. I regret not thinking this through. My wife and I share an immense amount of respect and trust. We also know how to be kind to ourselves and each other. We are human, and mistakes do happen. In hindsight, I really should have had a conversation about what I was planning to do.
When I returned Saturday evening, I was met with the consequences of my neglect. I was asked to self-quarantine in our guest room and wear a mask anywhere else in the house. A lot of hand-washing too. By Sunday afternoon, my brain had enough time to concoct a new plan, one that I would discuss with my wife. My newly painted truck and I would head off to self-quarantine in the Mojave desert. It worked out quite well, actually. The park is more than 47,000 square miles, and that meant seeing only a handful of people, and usually seeing them from a distance. It also meant that my exposure to COVID was much lower in the desert than if I had been at home doing the usual things like going to the grocery store.
The point of this is that we are in uncharted territory. It's going to take some work and compassion for oneself and others to navigate our new world. If we can do it, we will be better for it. For me, I know to start that conversation before I try and slip back into my old life.

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