I had taken over the small back lawn to grow vegetables. All that remained now were brick planters, a patio, a huge pool and a kiddie swing set area. We had obviously outgrown our postage stamp lot. Considering the climate we live in, in OC, I was disheartened by the teeny, cramped outdoor space allotted to our outdoor living.
My husband and I are both from back east and we grew up in wide-open, green spaces. I don’t much care for block walls either. We grew up among soft hedging to divide property lines in the front yard and more private, wooden, earthy fencing around the back lots.
It is an inviting, accessible and liberal view and less divisive, closed and concrete looking than six-foot high stucco. It just seems friendlier.
With three little ones in tow, we launched the grand search for land. We drove to Lake Matthews and viewed the smog line from the top of two and a half acre lots, we checked out OPA with its horse friendly clientele and we visited parcels with wide street frontage. Our budget was fixed but our dream was flexible. Still, nothing said “home” to us.
And then one spring day, my husband saw an advertisement for a “just reduced” piece of real estate in Villa Park. As I waited in the front yard for the realtor to arrive, it seemed all the square footage of grass and dirt was frontage. The backyard was probably not what we were looking for (a place for me to garden, our three kids to run around in and enough lawn to throw a football for my husband).
I walked right through the interior of the house to the backyard. I called back my husband; he threw our offspring into our van and headed over.
We stood at the furthest back point of the narrow but deep lot. Overlooking the weedy sloped lawn, we clasped each other’s hands, looked towards the “as is” homestead and squeezed each other. We knew this is where we must raise our children.
That was sixteen years ago this spring. Our last chickadee is about to leave our VP nest. Although our house and lot was in shambles, dilapidated, neglected and mistreated, we saw the potential and the charm of our own nostalgia that drew us and kept us in Villa Park.