Ten years ago, I moved to the best little court in my town, in the suburbs of the Bay Area. At the time, it was a court filled with girls – two grade-school girls across the street (they moved in five months after I did), two same-aged girls next to them, a baby girl bordering the park and two more girls around the corner.
The retired couple lived on the corner and watched traffic coming and going. Leilani next door was a new widow and cancer survivor. I shook things up as the divorced woman with the barking Dachshund and a teen-aged daughter.
No one has moved in the last ten years. Now Leilani’s house is for sale. She spent the last two years in a nursing home and before that, reluctantly allowed care givers into her home. I went inside once when she invited me.
The house was built and decorated in the 70s and has gone untouched since then. Think rust and gold drapes, shag carpet and metallic wallpaper. The tri-level is a tract home with an exact replica across the street. This week, it went on the market and looked like a house of gold to ten buyers.
That’s right, ten. Leilani’s daughter told me yesterday that she has ten solid offers after a weekend of frenzy as 45 potential buyers came through the house. I watched them coming and going as I sat at my sewing machine in my new sewing room. I gave my old sewing room at the other end of the house to my son, who just moved in this past weekend.
One family had four blond children. I saw them running to the park next door to my house. I saw Asian couples, extended families, and contractors discussing things in the middle of the court. We haven’t seen that much traffic on the court since I added my addition five years ago, back when I thought I would be selling pioneer dresses on Etsy forever.
The back of the house has a yard of weeds – not a single tree or bush, but a spectacular view of the Las Trampas ridge. Lelani’s daughter said she never appreciated the view as a child because of the heavy drapes. My own windows along the back of the house are curtain free, and I can see some of the hills from my single-story house, especially in the winter when my neighbor’s Valley Oak has no leaves.
Who will be the new neighbors? The baby girl, who is now ten, is hoping for a friend her age. Her little sisters are hoping for more kids, too. The other children on the court have grown up and gone off to college, but they’re still around, especially since the pandemic began.
Leilani told me that she chose that house because it had the biggest lot in the neighborhood. She loved her house, the court, and her neighbors. She used to drive carpool with the neighbor kids, including Brett, across the street. He bought out his siblings when his mom died of cancer. He has the three girls, ten and under, and the best party yard around. It opens onto the little park with the swings and play structure. When he invites family and friends, they take it over for the day.
“It’s really your greenbelt, and we just use it,” I told him the other day while walking my dog.
“Yes,” he said. “It’s a great place to come home to.”