Castle Rock

November 22, 2007
The town of Castle Rock, Washington has 2,000 people, one bridge, two freeway exits, and no movie theater. Every Friday night in the fall at least half of the town’s population flocks to the stadium to watch the Castle Rock Rockets football team play. In July everyone lines the streets as the parade that kicks off the start of the town fair snakes its way from the elementary school, through the one main street, over the one bridge and to the fairgrounds. In the end everyone stands up and follows the parade route to see if their cakes won a first place ribbon.

In my high school it is nearly impossible to graduate without knowing the names of your classmates, who they hang out with, and what they’re like. My class is the one of the largest my school has ever seen with 130 students. Here rumor spreads like wildfire and no secret is safe from the grapevine. Things always get back to one’s parents, even though they seem completely out of the loop.

This is my home town, Castle Rock, home of the rockets, gateway to Mt. St. Helens. All of my life I have lived here, one of the last remainders of true rural towns, where there are more cows than people and everybody knows your name. People here tend not to follow what society does. Adults hardly ever wear business attire, because the only business to go into is the logging business. Teens are more likely to know how to line dance than to actually like rap. There are no gangs, no street violence; in fact, we’ve had a grand total of two murders in the town’s 175 year history. Underneath this peaceful, fifty’s sitcom façade is the truth about small towns: they are unbearably boring.

Many complain about the boredom of living in Castle Rock, and the fact that in order to do pretty much anything a person has to drive half an hour to see a movie and at least an hour to go shopping at decent stores. However, recently houses have been popping up all over place. Suddenly half of a forest a couple streets over gets cut down to make way for houses. The farm land where errant students used to skip class to go cow tipping is being developed. Two hundred houses are going in there, three hundred there, when will it end? So we are forced to deal with the fact that Castle Rock may no longer be the serene place it was. Kids may no longer go fishing after school. The city limits will expand, and instead of seeing a herd of elk outside of my window every winter morning, one day I will see a flock of houses.

What are we sacrificing for the sake of progress? Very few ask this question. Will we like the city that has sprung up; the urban jungle that one day will replace the rainy Washington forests? For my town this is still a long time off. Things are happening slowly, but still, one must wonder if it is all for the better.

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