“Roaming Was Just What We Did”
“I joke that I grew up in Canyon Park; the actual canyon itself.
“After school my friends and I would get on our bicycles and just go. One friend had a basket on her bicycle, so we’d fill it up with anything and everything we could find, then head over to the park. We’d pretend to be little detectives, searching through all the nooks and crannies. My dog was always with us, too.
“Growing up, we didn’t have a TV at home. We were just always outside running around – almost always barefoot, too. As we got older, we’d bike down the Santa Ana River Trail to Huntington Beach or hop on the bus to Newport. That was life. It was all we knew.
“I didn’t understand what a unique childhood I’d had until I moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts to attend MIT. So many of the people I met there had grown up in Boston or on the East Coast, and they had zero freedom as kids. There was no roaming around – it was all organized playdates and structured activities. That was when I first started to realize how special it was to grow up in Westside Costa Mesa. I loved Cambridge, but I’m so happy to be back here because it’s just such a beautiful place.
“I remember being embarrassed, as a kid, about being from Westside Costa Mesa. I felt ashamed because we didn’t live in a two-story house and didn’t have the same nice things that my friends’ families seemed to have. But now I feel like the luckiest kid to have had two parents who are not just educators – but who also recognized the value of letting me run free and explore all the time. With the benefit of hindsight, it was a great way to grow up. I wouldn’t trade that time in the canyon for anything.”
– Arlis Reynolds, Resident, Westside Costa Mesa