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A Brookfield Story

As my time in Brookfield draws to a close, I reflect on life growing up in this town.

With fall — and the start of college — in the very near future, those of our number in Brookfield High School still left in this hometown is dwindling. Indeed, I've said to most of my friends as we are scattered across the country, not to return to Brookfield. (Until, in all likelihood, Thanksgiving.)

As such, a flurry of Facebook status updates about Brookfield has appeared on my newsfeed, some lamenting the fact they can't bring friends from high school to college and others celebrating it. One thing, however, is universal: we're leaving our hometown behind.

For many, this isn't a downside at all. How many times has Brookfield's suburban plight been the cause for whining and sighs of “oh-there's-nothing-to-do-here?” The town is the general scapegoat for adolescent malaise. As surely as students in the city will bewail their fate of being without trees and open space, if there are teenagers in Brookfield, there will be complaints that it's too boring.

I won't deny that our list of “things to do” pales in comparison to an urban area's, but that's not to say Brookfield hasn't given us anything. We grew up here, and our childhood memories will be firmly cemented within its , the boundaries of Kid's Kingdom, and the .

So what is life really like in Brookfield, without the constant wail of sirens or a neighborhood coffee shop on every street corner? We don't have a rich of language or culture, and forget about even trying to take a nice walk to work. It's less exciting here, perhaps even quaint, in comparison to the hustle and bustle of a thriving metropolis, but when there's less to do, people have to be more imaginative.

Maybe that's where video games come in handy — so we can live in the world of Grand Theft Auto where sirens really do blare frequently. But then again, my friends and I crafted a fantasy world of our own in the woods behind my house, with nothing more than shovels and saws. Let's see the city kids do that.

Life is definitely slower here, but that just means we get more time to grow up. Yeah, so maybe was a bit stunted compared to someone who rode the subway alone every day, but I got there in time, didn't I? And with a few to boot... gazing up at the belly of the night sky, in awe of the beauty of a few sparkles of light on a pitch black canvas.

We stumble across those moments of inspiration more often than we think, but not so often that we take them for granted. I lived in rural Maine for a few months in my junior year — long enough to feel swallowed up by the vastness of that same sky. Life there was slower still, making it easy to appreciate the niceties of suburbia. Being able to appreciate cows from afar, for instance.

Brookfield, then, is small enough that we can all add to its lore (by leading the football team to victory, by losing your swimtrunks while tubing on Candlewood Lake, by wandering the empty streets at night, by painting a signature picture on Graffiti Bridge) but large enough to afford us equality through anonymity. It doesn't matter who pulls off the best prank or scores the winning goal, or even that anyone does. We all have made a mark on Brookfield; we are all a community.

To those who still say that nothing happens here: where were you when those monstrous , when Doc was , when my friends became , when Formal Friday: took place, when we all dressed up as , or when the twister ? That's just in the past year alone. There are plenty more memories to be found, and plenty more to be made. Because, well, love it or hate it, Brookfield is home.

Thanks for reading, even though it's not like you asked....

Catherine Malek August 22, 2011 at 02:11 AM
Good luck in college, Matt. I've enjoyed reading your columns!

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