An active-duty Navy helicopter pilot, Fernando Reyes has just moved to D.C. to live with his wife Catherine and work for the Pentagon. Today, he's signing up for a CubeSmart storage space at 1701 Florida Avenue in Washington D.C. as he transfers his personal belongings from San Diego.
Fernando is no stranger to self-storage or packing and unpacking. "In the military you learn how to downsize to whatever is necessary, whatever fits into a state room, so you end up learning how to live without creature comforts and you leave stuff with your family or friends or in storage units."
After attending the Naval Academy, he enrolled in flight school and has been flying helicopters for 14 years. "It's something I always wanted to do," he says. "It's basically been my dream since childhood."
Since completing his training he's been deployed all over the world: South America, the Middle East, and most recently, the South China Sea and Sea of Japan outside the Korean operating area. "Each deployment has its own challenges. My last one, outside of Korea, was the most challenging based on all the tension in that region right now. It added a different dynamic than what I was used to."
He's also served on the USS Pittsburgh and the USS Carlson, both on the North Iranian Gulf. He's happy to be in the United States now, most of all because he got married a year ago and is finally just now able to live with Catherine.
They first met on base in San Diego; she's a nurse midwife working in military hospital settings. "That makes her life a little more quote-unquote normal but she got ordered to DC right after we met and we've been apart for a while," he says. "When you're married you get preferential treatment and they try to station you within 50 miles of one another. We knew that in DC there would be opportunities for both of us."
The long distance and time apart was challenging, Fernando says. "It's easy to say in 12 months we'll do this or that but in real life, emotions get involved and 12 months feels a lot more daunting than you expect, even six months in. Right after we married I had to deploy—we knew it was happening and tried to plan around it but on paper it all seems a lot simpler than it is in real life."
Now they're moving in together to the house that Catherine has set up, where they plan to stay for at least the next two years. "We're in our thirties so we've both had our own lives and our own stuff we have to merge together. But also being in our thirties means we're looking ahead to having a family and growing older together, to changing our priorities to put each other's needs first. That's the good part."