Corvallis

Corvallis

´╗┐Corvallis, Oregon seems to think it has discovered some kind of unique sentiment when it claims to be "...surrounded by reality," a term better suited to and almost certainly already employed by vacation spots the world over. That's not to say it wasn't a wonderful place to spend an adolescence. "Wanting to get out of this town someday" is a worn-out symptom of youth everywhere, but ours is not a brand of hope and yearning born of poverty or oppression. It is not for a lack of opportunity that Corvallians seek the world outside their doors, nor due to the bog-standard boredom found in truly small populations. It is more nebulous than that. Small towns all claim a similar set of woes (the same small social circles, the same lack of anonymity), what stands out is the degree to which each has resisted the undercurrent of homogenization, how much identity it has retained and how gracefully it has been allowed to adapt. The number of fast food chains and the percentage of square mileage occupied by parking lots are indicative of this resilience. I am of the opinion that loudest of these warning signs is the presence of an interstate freeway. To not have one's small town bisected can be a surprisingly rare thing. In summation, the freeway goes through Albany instead.┬á

The state university fits a similar, quaint blueprint. It also has a nuclear reactor. As a result, there is a much higher concentration of P.h.Ds with federal security clearances than any normal small town should possess. Many of them are parents of my generation. If not O.S.U, they were likely employed by the tech giant HP. There was no question whether or not we would excel, achieve, succeed and seek fortune beyond the horizon - our town collectively had more P.h.Ds and Masters than it did Bachelors and Diplomas. We were the progeny of the biggest fish culled from small ponds the world over and dumped into one, the weakest among us still a child in the shadow of an intellectual giant. The nuclear...