Matt Yemma moved to Westport in elementary school. He graduated from Staples High School in 2002. He ran cross country and indoor and outdoor track, and was inspired by English teachers like Gerry Kuroghlian and Todd Kalif.
He majored in writing at the University of Redlands. Yemma is currently the founder and managing partner of Endeavor Communications, a public relations consulting firm specializing in financial and legal services clients. He writes:
“Come on Reggie. Let’s play football in the living room!” I remember saying.
It was the first night we were staying in the Westport house, in the fall of 1995. We had just moved from Evanston, outside of Chicago, where we had a nice house, but nothing quite as big as our new Westport house – and with no furniture yet in the house it felt cavernous. I found a football somewhere amongst our luggage and bribed my 8-year-old sister into a game in the living room. We thought we were in trouble when our father stumbled upon our game, but luckily, he just smiled and joined in.
That same cavernous living room, with the high vaulted ceilings and the large fireplace set in granite, would soon be filled with rugs and furniture and family pictures and happy memories. That living room saw more than its share of Chrismukkah dinners, nights decorating the Christmas tree – and also lighting the menorah because we are a multicultural family.
5 Viking Green
Plus birthday parties, family celebrations, bar and bat Mitzvah brunches, dinner parties, nights hanging by the fire with the dogs and friends, Staples pasta dinners, countless high school and college parties, even Reggie’s engagement party just a few years ago.
Over 23 years, that house shared in our happiness and our heartbreak – like when we sat shiva after our grandmother passed away in 2010, or when we celebrated when I got into the college I so desperately wanted to get into in 2002. Or when I returned home after losing my job during the financial crisis, feeling heartbroken, only to start my own business out of the basement of that house.
Probably the best feature of 5 Viking Green is the back deck. A 2-tiered outdoor wood deck overlooks the river and forest. In the warmer months the gurgle of the river and the sounds of the birds in the trees make it an excellent place to grill something delicious and get a fire going in the chimney.
The great deck
The forest is always full of life – deer, ducks and great blue herons in the river. An endless supply of chipmunks and squirrels kept the dogs entertained. We often joked about the ongoing war between the dogs and chipmunks. Let’s just say the chipmunk population took a hit every spring and summer.
Best of all was the family of Cooper’s hawks that ruled the trees in that forest. They’d occasionally land on the deck. or closer to the house. One summer we had a young family nesting somewhere near the house. We’d often sight the parents and babies diving down after a rabbit or smaller bird. Wild turkeys were also a common sight, funnily enough usually around Thanksgiving.
Nature, seen from 5 Viking Green.
That deck knows more of my secrets than it probably should. Like the time friends and I set off 4th of July fireworks from there, and nearly set it on fire. Or the time during a lifeguard party I jumped off the side of the deck to avoid being hit with a water balloon, and luckily just sprained my knee.
Or the time we sat on the deck discussing our grandmother’s funeral, or my parents’ plans to move on from the house, or when I broke up with a girlfriend and felt my heart shatter into a million little pieces. Thankfully, that deck always knew how to help heal broken hearts.
As we pack up the house now that it’s sold, I almost feel a constant video montage of all my memories at 5 Viking Green playing in my head. My parents have mixed feelings, they say – good memories but time to move on to their third act. They are trading the big Westport house for a 2-bedroom metro-chic apartment in downtown Denver.
All of us will miss this house. We’ll miss the late-night summer basketball we played in the driveway under the lights, and martinis on the deck and big roaring fires during blizzards. But we’ll cherish our memories, knowing that a family with young children starts a new act at 5 Viking Green.
Matt Yemma (2nd from left) and his family (from left): Andy, Melanie, Reggie and Eileen Ogintz.