My college town is tiny. The areas surrounding Montevallo are even tinier; I'm not sure if they even qualify as towns. There's a good bit of claustrophobia that comes with living in a place with a population comparable to that of my high school's; I've gotten to a point where everything is familiar to the point of being unnerving. It's not hard to get to know a place a little too intimately when your entire town is no bigger than a neighborhood.
But despite Montevallo's claustrophobic qualities, there's also plenty of things that are left to discover here- things that are easier to overlook. Abandoned buildings, wide open fields, creeks, huge expanses of vines and wildflowers... there are so many places nobody else seems to pay much attention to or even know about. It's never anything seriously noteworthy, but in a town like Montevallo, your surrounding are what you make of them. With such a limited array of places to go and things to do, suddenly it doesn't seem as strange to get excited over an overlooked crumbling general store. Little abandoned sheds and pastures become another universe; nobody talks about them or visits them, nobody else seems to know that they're there, so do these little spots even exist for anyone else? Maybe not.
Please correct me if I'm wrong here; I've never lived in a big city so I can't speak from experience. But it does seem like, although there are plenty of things to see and find in a city, it must be harder to feel a sense of ownership over new discoveries. It's difficult to get away from the crowd long enough to come across something that's so far removed from everyone else that it feels like it's your own. In Montevallo, when I discovered a new place, two things happen: I become very aware that the place I've stumbled into has a past, but I'm probably never going to be privy to it. I find myself wondering why this crumbling building or cotton field is here at all, and I get curious about its story. On the other hand, being completely alone (save for a friend or two) in the middle of nowhere, I also can't help but feel like the location I've stumbled onto has never existed for anyone else but me. It's a feeling that's both a little eerie and really, really cool.
The sense of ownership when discovering a new little corner of the universe is one of the things that I'm going to miss about Montevallo. The experience of stumbling across somewhere new and unheard of and feeling automatically connected to it is indescribable, but if you've lived in a small town long enough, you probably know what I'm talking about. Logically, I know I've pushed a few boundaries; it's a wonder I haven't been shot or had a roof fall on my head for all of the rural exploring I've done. But hey, I live in Montevallo- I take my fun where I can get it.