How does one go more than a year without sex? Gray Carr says she's too wrapped up in other thingswork, kids, writing a bookto think about dating. "My home is my boyfriend," she says. Jon's just biding his time. "I got nowhere to bring chicks," he says. "I would've started earlier if I lived outside the house. But there are guys getting their heads blown off in Iraq. A year of me chilling is not that bad." But he does admit that it's trickier than that. "This is a very small town. I'm gonna go younger," he says. "All you need is 20 girls calling up and saying, 'Did you see that floozy?'" Asked about her ex dating, Gray Carr says, "I'm great with it," then adds with a half-smile, "She'd better not be some bimbo!"
In early April, Jon and Gray Carr take a grand total of 71 minutes to reach a verbal settlement. When the negotiation, which costs less than $600, is complete, Jon says, "Might as well start dating now."
Except for one thing: He still shares a roof with his ex. The house was appraised two years ago at $810,000, but Jon doesn't think it can fetch much more than $725,000. The landscaping and basement renovations cost $100,000. And then there's the other debt: $15,000 on the three cars, $11,000 on his bike, $17,000 on credit cards. He can't just throw up his hands and sell the house for three quarters of a mil. So the Piejas' six-bedroom abode has become a bunch of little homes. The basement, for example, is cool and dark, a stark contrast to the fishbowl upstairs. Gray Carr works in a room in the corner. Jack and Ben play Wii in the main area. Jon exercises in another room. It's almost like a backstage, where everyone privately preps for the sometimes pleasant, sometimes painful interactions above. "All four of us escape down here," Gray Carr says. "It feels like a whole other house."
The patio is Jon's haven. Between conference calls, he's out there gazing toward the third hole. That's where he once put up a chalkboard inviting hackers to join him for a beer. That's Jonthe facilitator. Gray Carr runs the showalways hasbut Jon makes this arrangement work, sucking it up and swallowing his pride. Last year, on June 17, he gave her a card that said, "Happy Ex Anniversary." It was a joke. Sort of. "I didn't feel we gave it an A effort," he says. "I don't think I've given up on anything. Ever."
In May, when Gray Carr found a farmhouse two miles down the road and signed a lease, it was hard not to concede. It was a quiet end to a quiet separation. Gray Carr agreed to pay Jon a monthly sum to pare down their credit-card debt while he searches for a buyer for the house.