While looking for spots to photograph in my hometown the other day, my friend remarks, “Why does this place look so…abandoned?” It’s true, ain’t nothing going on in Smallville, GA. I think about the past a lot, where we came from, how humble beginnings tend to stick with you like scars on knees. I was lucky enough to escape, but in many ways, it never leaves you, the inadequate feelings that build up living in a town that time and progress literally skipped over.
I still stick by my roots, I wouldn’t change how I was raised, but danggit if things had been different, if we’d landed in a bigger city with more opportunities–I honestly don’t know if I would be writing all this. Experiences like the ones we had are fine for a Jason Aldean song, but for a town only about an hour plus from Peachtree Street, you’d think there would be some sort of development over the years. My friend since elementary school, we both talk about it as well and express the same frustration. I would have very much liked to reminisce on how our hometown changed over the decades, how businesses rolled into town, setting up new shops for the people, and building nicer places to live–but they didn’t. I drive around a good bit and see the changes in towns around Georgia that were once unincorporated. There was a time when Suwanee didn’t even have a McDonald’s and how Sugar Hill was just a pindrop. Now there are stores and businesses of all sorts and the Asian influence is huge. Time will tell if that bubble will burst, but at least they embraced change. Growing up in Smallville, if you’re very lucky you get to leave. No one ever comes back willingly, there’s nothing here for them. Don’t even look back or you’ll turn into a pillar of salt. There are far better places than a moisture farm on Tatooine.
I think every city takes on the spirit of the people that live there, and sadly for my hometown, it hurts not being wanted by anyone.