By Auburn Terry
I didn’t ask to grow up in Opelika, Alabama. I didn’t make the decision to plant my roots in a town just west of the Alabama-Georgia line whose name means “Big Swamp.” I didn’t choose to stay in the same place for eighteen years. I didn’t make it my home by any of my own choices. But it’s still my home.
Opelika is situated right next to the city for which I am named, Auburn, home to Auburn University and Toomer’s lemonade and, as my grandmother would say, “The Lord’s Auburn Tigers.”
I grew up in a town that was once famous for its railroad industry but is now more famous for the athletics that are brewed and trained inside the walls of Opelika High School and hold a quiet and fearless reign over the entire population of Opelika. I was never an athlete, so I never knew what it was like to have grown men and women scream at me from the sidelines of our stadium as if football were my job. I was very involved in the arts, however, but that never seemed to get enough credit for how hard we all worked day and night to prove that there was more than football in the South (but that’s a completely different story). I attended church in one of the many buildings looming over downtown with a membership that hailed from all over the towns surrounding Opelika. Opelika was altogether exactly what I needed.
I know I didn’t choose to be there, but I was given a lot of opportunities to make Opelika into my Opelika. My hometown is the greatest hometown–not because of exceptional athletics or great restaurants or vibrant history or beautiful Victorian-era mansions-esque houses, but because of the people. There is something to be said about the people of Opelika and the way they take care of others.
Their love for tradition and for progression at the same time is not hidden and binds the town into a knot unbroken by the courses of time, adversity and apathy. They are a people proud of where and who and whose they are. They are devoted to one another and to service and to being in each other’s business more often than is necessary sometimes, but they care more than the average person. They saw to it that my education was on course, that my spirituality was sealed, that my manners were always fresh at the forefront of my mind and that I was loved.
So I didn’t choose Opelika, but I really feel that Opelika chose me. And I’m thankful to be a Bulldog or an actress or a regular at the Overall Company, but I’m mostly thankful to be even a small part of that community. Thanks, O-Town. You did me right.
Auburn Terry is an Opelika native, former junior reporter for the Opelika Observer and a sophomore at Faulkner University in Montgomery.