Editorâ€™s note: The following story from Colville High School senior Brogan Bateman is part of her Senior Project requirement for graduation. Her story, titled The Place We Call Home, chronicles her life in a small town in Northeast Washington.
I think as we grow up we all ask ourselves one inevitable questionâ€¦where is my home? For many of us, it is the very building in which we took our first step. For others, it is a favorite vacation destination, a tropical paradise where the worries of the world disappear and the senses are wrapped in nothing but utter bliss, but then there are the people who are just like me. People who have a certain place that makes their heart feel like it is leaking happiness; a place they call their hometown.
My entire life has been spent learning and growing in this very city of Colville, Washington. It is the town in which I have made unforgettable friends, experiencing devastating sorrow and sheer joy, but most of all it is the place that I am proud to call my home. And as time speed forward, my love for it only grows deeper.
As a senior at Colville High School this year, I will be graduating in just a few short months. I can honestly say I never thought the day would come when I could finally move the maroon tassel across my graduation cap. But it has come much quicker than I thought. In fact, it has come much faster than desired.
I know that I am not the only senior that feels this way. We understand the rarity of a small town, the closeness, the fact that everybody knows their neighbors and their neighbors know everybody. We know that you do not simply stumble upon friendships like ours just anywhere. The kind that begin with two trouble-making kinÂ¬dergarten students and grows into two, well, still mischievous high school students. We were meant to grow up in this town with these classmates for a reason and we know how blessed we are to live in such a reality.
Before getting down to the real heart of my story, I have a confession to make. I figured that my senior class was like most others, ya know, the typical â€śSenior-itisâ€ť stricken teens, eager to make their escape into the big world, but I found we are very much the opposite. I did a survey and asked the stuÂ¬dents, why do you want to leave Colville?
To my surprise, the majority of their answers expressed affection for our small town and were not exactly jumping the gun at the thought of moving away. So therefore, my initial plan to prove to them all how wonderful Colville truly is flew out the window. But then an even better idea hit me, and that is the idea I hope to inspire you with today.
I have spent my entire life amongst the wondrous scenery of Colville, so my opinion may be biased, but I would wager that almost every one in this town would agree with me when I say we live in one of the most beautiful places on earth. The mountains are not sharp enough to be threatening, but not dull enough to be weak; they are perfect and sprinkled on top like a powdered donut. Seas of wheat and grain farmlands protect our borders and the glossy river glides effortlessly through our endless valley.
We are not called the Evergreen State for nothing. It is nearly impossible to keep a smile off your face on those perfect days when shades of green begin to appear, coating every inch of the land. Birds accompany the breathtaking sunshine and sing their familiar tweets. And at night, when all is quiet and you step outside for just a moment, it is like the night wraps you in a blanket of the Milky Way, kisses your forehead with bright hues from the setting sun, and whispers goodnight with a breeze that inspires a smile. Nowhere else in the world is blessed with a paradise like ours.
Summer nights are my favorite part about living in Colville. There was one night that was particularly magical, one I will never forget. It was the Fourth of July and the sun began to fall behind the mountains and people would soon begin painting the navy sky with awe-inspiring fireworks. Some friends and I had gathered at the Hofstetter baseball field to set fireworks off ourselves, something my parents probably would not have been quite happy with had I told them before this moment. But we did not burn down the city, so I suppose it was okay.
After spending the next hour or so full of amazement, our toys eventually dwindled down to nothing and it was time to move on to our final and most memorable event of the night. The girls huddled in the back of a friendâ€™s convertible jeep, swimÂ¬ming in blankets with purple lips, as the guys piled in the front, ready to take us to our final destination. Within seconds, we found ourselves atop the mountain tattooed with a â€śCâ€ť. Only the look of a father peering at his newborn child for the first time could compare to the magnificent scene that was laid out before us.
It was like a dream, colors splattered the night sky and sparkles glistened off every rooftop. I had never seen anything as beautiful. With our legs dangling off the edge of the cliff and our arms wrapped around one another, we sat in complete silence watching the magical show before us. All the while we each had the same exact words haunting our minds, but no one dared to speak them out loud, this is our last Fourth of July home.
A lot of memories have been made in the last 18 years I have lived in Colville. Though most are, not, all can be considered good, but I would never take a single one back. As I have asked myself that one impossible question, where is my home, I have learned that it is the place that holds my memories, and knows who I am because it has been the host of every major event in my life.
I remember the day when this question was finally answered. Everything in my world had gone completely blank. My eyes were dark and my ears were pounding. I remember trying to recollect where I was as I cautiously felt around with my hands. Words were being spoken and I could hear faint beeping sounds, but I could not place where the noise was coming from or what was being said. A soapy detergent smell filled my nose and I recognized the familiarity of the scent.
I had been here before. It took a second to all set in, but then suddenly my veins burst into an excruciating wildfire, all of my senses rushing through my body, burning everything in their path. I tried to focus on a way out, calculating every detail, solving the puzzle, when all of a sudden it was clear. The room came into focus and there were my parents, one positioned on either side of the hospital bed I laid on. That explained the voices I heard. I lifted my head to find out where the beeping noise was coming from, but I already knew. The monitor read 236 beats per minute.
The diagnosis had been confirmed in January 2011. I had atrial fibrillation, and a more severe arrhythmia would be disÂ¬covered later. Although scared when I first found out I had a heart condition, I eventually came to terms with reality. But that night, as I layed in the hospital bed, I knew something else was wrong. I had never felt such horrible pains in my entire life. My heart felt like a savage beast fighting a war in my chest, trying to escape, and maybe if it did, the pain would go away. None of the salineâ€™s being shot into my IV were helping, and the doctors seemed frantic as they ran around the room for a soluÂ¬tion. Time kept passing and nothing worked.
After what seemed like a lifetime, the doctors came in and said the strength of the medicines were not enough and they would have to restart my heart. Fear drenched my soul. Before I knew it, I was being wheeled down the hall toward a room that would have more space to accommodate the upcoming procedure. Bless the doctors for trying to reassure me that everything would be alright, but I guess it was the child in me that was scared beyond consoling despite their kind words.
I feel like a coward admitting it, but the possibility of death did enter my thoughts. In fact, I felt no comfort at all. I was completely alone. But somewhere between being hooked up to wires like a video game console and drifting off to a forced sleep, I asked myself that question one last time, worried I would never find an answer before I passed, Where is my home?
Without a doubt in my mind, I knew the answerâ€¦Colville.
You can imagine the joy I felt when I awoke just minutes later. The uncertainty that lurked in my petrified mind that night was haunting, but somehow knowing that I had a place to call home brought me great reassurance. But despite the terror, I am grateful for that night because now that question no longer lingers on my mind, but is instead confirmed with the answer that Colville itself is my home. It was the place that held my favorite memories, that witnessed my every experience, and that brought me peace in my time of need. It is hard to think that soon us seniors will be off on our own, separated inevitably, some to return and carry on the Colville tradition, while others will never look back. But one thing is certain, though tears may stain our cheeks as we share our last embraces, our legacy will live on forever in this little town. No matter where, when, how we ask ourselves the question, where is my home, the answer will always be the sameâ€¦Colville is our home.