• Monica Montanari

The Most "Country" Place I Have Ever Been


Alright- it’s been a while since I updated y’all on the happenin’s in Alabama!

So about a month ago I got the opportunity to visit an authentic Alabama town- one of the small, quaint, “country” towns that most Californians think of when they hear about the South. I gotta say, they’re not entirely wrong.

So my friend wanted someone to drive about two hours north to his childhood home, and without any other plans, I had no reason not to go. The first thing you have to know about Alabama is that I love driving- and this is driving country. It’s absolutely beautiful. In the beginning of November, things are just getting cold and the trees along the freeway start changing colors to these beautiful varied hues of orange, red, and yellow. Being from California, I’m pretty new to the idea of “seasons”. In SoCal, we have warm or warmer, and sunny or sunnier. We may get a week or two of rain, which is thrilling when it happens- especially now that there’s a drought. So seeing real fall was so exciting to me.

Our first stop upon arriving in Gadsden was a country flea market, or swap meet. A lot of people bring their junk and try to sell it- but others make unique things or sell cheap farm-fresh produce. But by far my favorite part was the fact that they also sell animals. Local farmers bring chickens, roosters, bunnies, etc. I was walking down the dirt path and saw this girl holding a tiny little pig. I died. I’m pretty sure the pig understood my squeal- it might’ve been in the same pitch he’s used to. I had to go ask the girl how much they were and what you do with them and everything. Apparently, in Alabama, the idea of having a domesticated pig as a pet isn’t that crazy. In fact, they are about $100, litter trained like a cat, and will eat kibble with your other little furry ones. HOW CUTE IS THAT?!?! Of course, I tried to talk my mom into letting me get one for my apartment. She wasn’t so sure about that, but I’m pretty sure little Teddy would love having a pet pig. Second best part of the day was definitely stumbling upon a man selling baby goats- and by baby I mean BABY. These little furry things were about a week old, and the size of one of Paris Hilton’s dogs. I died. I got to pet them and hold them, which resulting in a hilarious SnapChat video I’ve posted below. If you haven’t seen it, check it out.

 

My friend then planned to take me to lunch with his friend from the area, which was so fun and eye opening for me. His friend had the most fun, thick, backwoods Alabama accent ever (if you haven’t heard that accent, you’re missing out). As we sat at the lunch table, I got to hear them talk about their high school friends, who re mostly married by now, and a good percentage of them already have kids. Keep in mind my friend is one year older than me. Married at 22?!?! That’s pretty unheard of in California- but according to them, it’s a cultural norm in the South. Most people stay with their high school sweetheart and get married. Most kids don’t feel a huge pressure to go to college, because going into the workforce allows them to make money instead of sitting in a classroom, which is really a luxury that only families with money can afford.

As I’ve mentioned, many people in Alabama live closer to the Poverty Line, with a minimum wage that hits about $6 (I believe- could be lower). Anyway, these kids get married right out of college and just do their thing. To me, that’s insane. It could just be me, but I’ve had sweaters for two years and thought “what the HECK was I thinking when I bought that”. I don’t want to feel like that about the person I marry- so thanks, but no thanks. I’ll take my time with that one. At about sunset, my friend and I went to this lookout point next to his childhood neighborhood, where you can see for miles and miles- it was completely breathtaking. And freezing. I took it all in for…ohhhhh…. about two minutes before running back to the car and cranking up the heater. I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

Though Alabama is a completely different world (and sometimes I have to stop myself from saying “In my country…”), I find it fascinating to explore the cultural differences and immerse myself in the different lifestyle.


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