My hometown is the kind of place you can visit without ever knowing you were there. Then again, "visit" probably isn't the right word for it. There isn't much to visit in Oak Grove, Alabama. Hasn't been since 1998. Probably before then, too.
It's the kind of rural location that almost refuses to stay lodged in memory unless you grew up there. When I started going to the University of Montevallo, I was only 45 minutes away from Oak Grove. Very few of my classmates, most of them from the same area, had any idea where I was from.
Except, that isn't entirely true.
I figured out pretty quick that there was a sort of magic phrase that, if I uttered it, would make just about anyone in the state of Alabama realize that they know exactly where I'm from. That they've known about us for a long, long time, and have only just forgot.
The magic phrase is: "Remember that town that got torn to pieces by an F-5 tornado in 1998?"
Funny thing is, you've got to change your secret passcode every once in a while. Have to keep everyone on their toes. So of course, the magic phrase has changed in recent years.
Now it goes like this: "Remember that town that got torn to pieces by an F-4 tornado in 2011?"