Probably one of the few places you can go and eat with deer heads, framed hunting pictures, and maps of lakes on the wall; with 2 liter jugs of sweetened sweet tea put on your table alongside the self-service paper towels; where everything comes on plastic plates and in Styrofoam cups; where you sit family-style; where the family across the room walks around and offers the entire restaurant some of their birthday cake; where everything on the menu is battered and deep-fried; where it takes you 10 minutes to get to your seat because you have to say hello to everyone you know; where it would be easier to just yell "hello y'all!" when you walk in because you know everyone there; and where they've had the same paper menus for 15 years.
There's no way I could live there at 26 years of age --- I'd go mental. But having lived there for 18 years, and been away for another 8, I can say that Albany ingrains in her own some of the best etiquette and great friendships. It's a place where "no ma'am, no sir" ends every sentence; a place where family reigns supreme no matter your circumstance; a place where everyone waves and says hello to each other, and they actually mean it when they said "how ya doing?."
I guess what the Lost Trailers said so many years ago is true: "I guess the reasons that I left here are the reasons I come back / Sometimes you've got to leave to find out what you have."
It's fair to assume that Albany is not the only place like this. But it's my place, and I'll be damned if I don't love it deep down. Sometimes we all just need a reminder of where we're from and how we were raised. Or at least I do.
And I'm not saying I'm perfect --- even half-way for that matter --- but visiting is a good reminder of what I should try to do a bit better each day. What we all should try to do. But I guess I'll just start with me.