A 22,000-square-foot castle is not a home


From the living room of my 1,200-square-foot house, I've watched a new house going up across the pasture and realized I live in a modern version of a log cabin.

My house wasn't built by hand, and the crew who built it worked together only from eight to five, although a few shared beers afterwards. My house was purchased with money made by typing programs into a computer for the federal government. No physical dangers like bears or weather involved, just finger flicks and bosses.

My house is like a pioneer's cabin because it's small and the family close-knit. I believe those two qualities are connected, especially as I watch construction across the field of a house said to be 22,000 square feet. Two different neighbors got that from two different sources. One neighbor's father, a title contractor, couldn't believe it. I didn't either. I used to work construction and thought the foundation looked a mite large, but then the walls went up and it seemed like a normal-sized house with some odd foundation walls spewing out from the edges. Probably for landscaping or something, I thought. Then more walls went up outside the first. Then more.

Now I fully believe that house will be 22,000 square feet, the same size as the office building where I work, which has a lunch room, a mainframe computer room, a training laboratory, three conference rooms, and offices for 100 people. The house across the way will hold mom and dad and two kids.

I've read where some of these monster homes are built to house extended families. That may engender closeness, but I picture them living in separate areas - the east or west wing of a mansion. They may get together for an evening meal but then each "family" goes off to its private corner, and no family member has to fight and compromise over the television or bathroom because there is one in every room.

That's not a home, that's a hotel.

Once my mother-in-law leaves, we'll have four people in 1,200 square feet. Two of those people are pretty small, but to maintain that same ratio, I'd need 73 people to populate that huge house out my window. There aren't many Moxceys around so I'd probably have to disinter a few forebears to fill it. Of course, then it would be more of a mausoleum than a home.

I like our living arrangements. Wide open spaces and spacious skies belong outdoors. Who wants a place for every person and every person isolated in place?

Let some people build monster homes: I look forward to the noisy give-and-take and reconciliations that come with close proximity.

Mike Moxcey has lived in Fort Collins, Colo., for the past six years. He works as a programmer for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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