I've been here over a month now, and I miss my California home, friends and family! My project this week has been to furnish the guest room, and I hope it will be used often—please come!
People here say that the weather has been unusual for the region, and that there should be more rain. It's rained only once since I arrived, and had not rained for several weeks before. Folks here experience this as a “drought.” News lately has reported a number of wildfires around the state due to unusually dry conditions.
I've been spending a lot of time shopping for my home in Opelika. So far I've visited three different Goodwill stores in Atlanta, and one in Opelika several times. It is next door to an Asian grocery store, serving a population of immigrant families who, I'm told, come to work in nearby factories such as the Kia factory just over the Georgia state line.
Opelika has a charming historic downtown, which looks to be enjoying a period of economic growth. It is a short walk from my home—a mid-century duplex unit—to the downtown shops and restaurants. Taking any route, you find either a church or a historic mansion on just about every corner. Most of the churches occupy large properties with several buildings and electronic signboards. The neighborhood is blessedly quiet at night, except for trains passing through in the distance every few hours.
The Fellowship I serve has been extremely gracious and welcoming, and I'm very much appreciating that it is part of my job to sit and chat with each and every person. I've also enjoyed meeting people outside of the congregation, including members of the Auburn Clergy Association, my landlord, and a local realtor I got acquainted with during my housing search. Her husband happens to be an architect, and she told me about Frank Lloyd Wright's “Inn at Price Tower” in Bartlesville, OK, where Wayne & I stayed one night on our way here.
My expectations were murky at best, and I have been surprised by a number of things I've discovered about this part of the world. Auburn is a relatively small city, but as a university town it has many of the cultural amenities I'm used to enjoying in the Bay Area. Being spoiled by our Hetch Hetchy water supply, I did not expect the tap water to taste as good as it does here. The two Kroger's supermarkets and the Target store look pretty much like their California counterparts, so I'm not in danger of lacking any familiar commodities. The clientele at the Trader Joe's in Atlanta look exactly like folks you could meet in the Emeryville store (until you hear them speak), and it's located in a upscale neighborhood near a beautiful green space. There are bike lanes. There is birdsong. There is fresh-roasted coffee. Craft beer pubs are quite popular.
So these are some initial impressions. I look forward to digging a little deeper and learning more—heck, I haven't even explored the historic downtown in Auburn!