Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Going Home



Hello,

I just got back from a trip to my home town, Beatty, Nevada. It's about 115 miles north of Las Vegas in the desert, close to Death Valley. The government used to set off nuclear bombs 12 miles away from Beatty on the Nevada Test Site in the 1950's. Doesn't Beatty sound charming? I'm pretty sure the leftover radiation actually mutated my DNA and some super powers will reveal themselves pretty soon.

Beatty is a different place. Wild burros walk around the town at night and crap all over as they eat the grass in the park and anywhere else green stuff grows. Miners let them go many years ago and now they've become wild. My friend Natalie and I managed to see four burros during the day while we were there. They were cute. See the picture with Natalie and the burro? This was the moment before it charged and attacked! Just kidding. Burros are docile. Then I took one of Beatty, and Beatty Mountain in the distance. It's actually quite a pretty mountain.

I traveled with Natalie Kobinski (formerly Tobin), who was like my little sister in high school and still is. I just love her and am so glad we've kept in touch over the years. I graduated one year ahead of her, in 1992, and we both became registered nurses. We went to college together as well at Northern Arizona University.

The reason we went was to speak at Beatty High's career day. Our goal was to recruit nurses. I also spoke about writing. My high school English teacher, Richard Stephens asked us to come and speak and I'm glad we did. Giving back to the school that gave so much to me was important. It was such a small school, only 32 kids in my graduating class, and 150 in the high school total. We could do any sport and get involved with everything. We also got a very personalized education with the small class sizes. I guess the big negative was that there were very few dating options.

Career day was good, though a bit draining. The high schoolers were fun to talk to and seeing some of our old teachers and school mates was great. I saw people I hadn't seen in 15 years. I also connected with friends who have stayed in Beatty and made lives for themselves. My good friend Randy Reed, who I've known since I was four years old, has stayed there. Also, my cross country running buddy, Ian Hickenbothem has remained. They both take care of the town and Ian volunteers as an EMT nearly 24/7 (at least six days a week). He's the man. Ian is the Guardian of the town--just like Drake, the main character in my novel, The Golden Cord. I greatly respect Ian and think he is very brave to respond to emergencies all by himself sometimes. Randy helps out a lot as well and I'm glad they have each other to depend on. It was great to see them.
Natalie and I stayed with my mom at her place, which was excellent. Mom's cooking was fantastic. Going home was a little strange though. Old memories, old feelings, and we saw that the town was drying up. The mine shut down and the population is much smaller than it used to be. Now it's around 800-1000 people, down from a whopping 2000 when we were there.

Seeing my mom and so many old friends was the best part. And the air was clean, not polluted like it is here in Salt Lake City. And it was so warm, in the 60's. Beatty was a great place to grow up and I think living there made me stronger. I don't know when I'll go back again and soon my mom is going to move here to Salt Lake.
Going home has made me want to get in touch with my friends from high school and see how they're doing. Reestablishing connections feels very important to me now. Bye for now and let me know if you've gone back home like me and had similar experiences.

1 comment:

Goldwell Open Air Museum said...

Cool to run across your post online (while I was googling Richard Stephens). Richard is on our Board of Directors at Goldwell Open Air Museum...y'know the sculpture park up by Rhyolite and our new Red Barn Art Center. We are luanching an artist residency program this year to bring artists, writers and such out to Beatty for a month to make work. Didn't know if you knew about us or not, but if we can coax you back, here's where you can find info on what we're doing:

http://www.goldwellmuseum.org

We are having a hummer of an event October 18th...consider yourself invited! Last year we had folks come out from Salt Lake to it!

Suzanne