Auburn Bucket List

I love my city.

When I moved to Alabama from my home state of North Carolina for my freshman year, I had no idea I could love a town the way I love Auburn. I have found so much adventure in the streets, homes, hearts, rooftops and storm drains of this place. Now I’m a senior. Along with every major phase of my life comes some sort of elaborate list, and this one is no exception. I am taking inventory of all the things in Auburn that I need to knock out before graduation in May, along with photos of some precious memories from the past few years. It’s a working draft, but here are a handful of items to start:

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Shooting film in abandoned warehouses with Boyfriend

1. Get car washed at Unique Image. I am not the kind of person who regularly details their car. Give me a pine tree-shaped air freshener and an Armorall wipe and I’m good to go. But I have been passing this shop several times a week for the past three years. The exterior is bright purple-and-yellow with racing checks down the side. The windows are mirrored. The cars outside gleam with a radiance that serves as a beacon of hope on the otherwise desolate Opelika road. And there’s a barber shop attached for your convenience. There isn’t a day I pass this place without thinking, ”Now there’s a group of people who are doing their job well — and with impeccable style” (refer back to the shop’s exterior). But, perhaps most compelling, is the inextinguishable belief that Unique Image would serve as the perfect setting for a Step Up 4-style dance battle.

2. Find out what Jason did. According to the bench, things have been going well for Bridget and Jason (not Dufner). But it wasn’t always this way. I don’t want to be the one to drudge up all that unpleasantness from the past, but I have been following this relationship since my freshman year, and that kind of emotional investment deserves answers. What could Jason have done that lead him to think, “What kind of sincere, intimate apology would help me win back the woman I love? I know! I’ll write it on a bus bench.”

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Riding bikes in ghost towns with this dreamboat

3. Eat lunch at Whispering Oaks. This is a particularly high-priority item because I have published several reviews of this restaurant but never actually gotten around to eating there. Read the linked review to get an idea of the required dress code and then RSVP to me through text message or long-form letter delivered on horseback.

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Home-cooked meals and house guests at Tom’s Cafe

4. Shop like a French woman at the Opelika Farmer’s Market. This summer, my dear friend Whitney directed me to a book called Entre Nous. It details the fascinating intricacies of French lifestyle and culture. This means, of course, that no less that two-thirds of the book was devoted to the preparing, cooking, and eating of sumptuous foods.

I have never had what you would call a “knack” for culinary pursuits, partly because I have lived with only a kitchenette for four years in the unmatched luxury of Auburn’s on-campus housing, and partly because I have developed a inexplicably strong aversion to grocery shopping. The shopping cart with the dead wheel that drags along the fluorescent-lit aisles emitting a deranged screeching sound that makes every trip feel like the beginning of a zombie apocalypse movie. The hours spent wandering around the general area that you know lightbulbs are located without ever being able to find the exact aisle. It all combines to make grocery shopping a pretty unpleasant ordeal.

This book, however, describes the shopping habits of a French woman: an open air market, carrying a hand-woven basket full of fresh-cut flowers, slowly selecting the freshest produce straight from nearby gardens, savoring the process. It’s a very different picture than the one of me ravaging the aisles of Wal-Mart for an undented can of mandarin orange slices. The farmer’s market is a step in the right direction.

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@melbellzz at Butch Anthony’s Museum of Wonder

7. Rope swing in Loachapoka

8. Wooden bridge in Notasulga

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The view from another wooden bridge in Notusulga

9. Learn how to pronounce ‘Loachapoka’ and ‘Notasulga.’

10. The National Peanut Festival

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Inside a rock quarry that looks straight out of the Jurassic age