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  • Writer's pictureMark Stefan Reinoso

The Condo(the remix)

Updated: Jan 29, 2020

"Walk some night on a suburban street and pass house after house on both sides of the same street each with the lamplight of the living room, shining golden, and inside the little blue square of the television, each living family riveting its attention on probably one show; nobody talking; silence in the yards; dogs barking at you because you pass on human feet instead of wheels.” Geoff Nicholson When I planned this year in advance, I knew we had to have the condo as a home base to stay in occasionally. I didn't anticipate how life was going to be when we were actually here, mainly because I was concentrating on where we would be going in our year of travel. I was excited about journeys we would take, but just chose not to think about the little matchbox we would call home for a few months. After our renters left, and before we moved in 5 months ago, I was confronted with the empty, decrepit condo that was to be our home base, and I was shocked. Suddenly, living in a very small apartment became real to me and initially, I kinda panicked. Aside from throwing 17k at the place in a week in order to be halfway livable, it still seemed like a home that was beneath me, a place that I didn't belong in. In early September, we spent 6 days in the condo before we packed up and drive to Portland for almost 3 months. During those 6 days, we were mainly unpacking and getting ready for our trip, so we didn't have time to think about or feel out our presence here. There were small glimpses, of course, like my daughter learning to ride a bike at 7 years of age on the second day here(big deal), but otherwise nothing really substantive to write about. I remember hating the kitchen and just choosing to eat out for 6 days, because there was no dishwasher, and "damnit, I am not going to wash dishes by hand". But even before we left for Portland, I do remember thinking for those few days that it wasn't half bad, living in such a tight space. Portland was the perfect funnel for us, coming from a 5 bedroom, 5 bath house, down to a 1400 sq ft abode for 3 months. In Portland we had to squeeze into one bathroom and 3 bedrooms, and we got used to it fairly quickly. Here at the condo in Scottsdale, it's 914 sq feet, 2 bedrooms with 1.5 bathrooms. I can't say I hate it here, in fact, I rather enjoy it. Oh, its not my forever home, but I really like it. Sure, I enjoy not paying the mortgage, as my wife has decided to pay it....saving 4k a month is great and its taken a lot of stress off me. That's not to say the old house payment was stressful, but in retrospect, it seems completely unnecessary. If I had to rate my stay here, I would give it an 8, and that's shocking to me. I can't definitively say what the reason is, but I can tell you, my mindset is different. I feel happier, I seem more content. Is it because I've always loved the idea of living in small spaces? Is it being in a completely new part of the Valley, in which I have never lived? Maybe I didn't fit in with the puritanical ways of East Mesa? Perhaps I secretly hated not having a direction in life, throwing money away on rent the last few years? Was it the trappings of Suburbia, with it's fake grass, fake facades and apocalyptic style interactions? I don't know what the answer is, maybe it's all of them. All I know is that I no longer take solace in the bottle at night, drowning my sorrows and lamenting my aimless life. No more do I listen to evocative music at night while drinking, desperate to feel something, ANYTHING that made me realize that I was human. I lived a completely flat-lined continuance, marked only by the occasional aberrative deviation from the monotony that was my life. There are some things that gnaw at a man worse than dying, and it seems now, looking backward, that everything was eating me. What I do know, is that my kids are a LOT happier. There are 350 units in this complex, and there are tons of like-minded people with kids here. 136 units are filled with people that go to the same church that we do. There is a really nice park and a pool here, and you can see the kids playing all the time. What I always wanted for my kids, community and playmates, is ever present. Back in east Mesa, we had to arrange play dates for our kids, and it was once a month at best. Now, its every day! Kids are everywhere, running in and out of the house, drinking our water, stealing cookies from the counter, playing hide and seek and doing all the things that kids should do. It's a fantastic cacophony, and it feels wonderful, watching this happen every day. My kids get along better, they are less angry and argumentative, mainly because they aren't on video games 5 hours a day. I feel lots of my parenting wrongs have been righted, simply by moving to a place where they can do what feels natural to them, what kids have done for thousands of years. RELEASE THE KRAKEN! We do more as a family, no more do the kids run upstairs to play video games, no more do I barricade myself in my office to work and research, now it's in the kitchen while my wife interrupts me constantly. My kids are in and out the front and back door, and they mess with my hair as they walk by, and I slap them on the butt when they aren't expecting it. We have one couch and all 4 of us pile on it, jockeying for position like little sardines in a can. We have 4 coffee mugs instead of 27, we have 8 wine glasses because that's the maximum amount of people we could get in this place. Our microwave is on the patio, right on top of the wine fridge, because there isn't room anywhere else. Living in this small space is a natural junk inhibitor: we can't impulse buy, we can't buy things we don't absolutely need, simply because there isn't space. I haven't bought a book in months, mainly because the shelf is full, and the only other place to store it would be my truck. This place is like the Hadron Collider, let's throw everyone together and see what comes of it! Watching all of this, feeling everything I do now, it makes me wonder: how could I have been so wrong about what I thought I needed in life? Do I suck at life that badly? I didn't necessarily think that the big house with the pool and the spa and the sunset views would make me happy, but I do remember thinking that I wouldn't be comfortable in anything less. Is that the same thing though? Knowing now that I was so very wrong about this, it makes me wonder else I have yet to discover. I guess we will see.....

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