A new beginning

Michael Boylan's picture

I would start writing this column from the beginning, but I wouldn’t really know where to start. Being born in Salem, Mass.? Living in Swampscott? My life on Swan St. in Beverly? Being king of my elementary school for three years? There are plenty of stories about growing up in Massachusetts, but I think it is far more relevant to discuss my life in the South, which started when I was 17, because over the years, a lot of people from all over the country have moved to the Fayette County. Things are different down here, even though they probably get more similar to the rest of the country every day.

This column will be about learning and accepting those differences, about really growing up and finding one’s place in the world.

I moved to Peachtree City in November of my senior year of high school. My father was being promoted and relocated and the choices were Los Angeles, which was quickly eliminated because it was far too expensive, or Atlanta. Obviously, Atlanta, where the cost of living was great and the fall weather was even better, was the choice.

It was not, as you can imagine, an easy transition for me. My parents told me we would live in a city called Peachtree City and that I would attend McIntosh High School.

“Home of the Fighting Apples,” I said in my typical surly teenager tone.

My family moved down a week or two before me and I stayed with friends. I took my SATs for the second time on the day I moved (somehow performing better than on my first attempt) and then had a teary goodbye with my friends at the airport.

I did not know what I was in for moving to the south, although in retrospect calling Peachtree City the south and its residents southerners is like calling people who live in the north Eskimos. I soon found out that practically nobody in Peachtree City was a native and that all of the hick-y behavior I was sure I would find was relegated to a small group of kids who gathered around their pick-up trucks in the morning. They were the outsiders. As someone who transferred into school late, I immediately had something in common with almost everybody else.

One major difference was that I did not have a car. In Massachusetts, I could walk to school and didn’t need a car. When I wanted to go out at night or on the weekends, I could borrow my mother’s car. Down here, it seemed that every senior had a car. I told my parents (petulantly, I’m sure) that I wanted a car and they told me that if I got a job, I could have my mother’s Camry. I got a job at Sam Goody at Shannon Mall, just for the holidays, unfortunately, but the car was mine.

One day, I was driving down the Parkway after school and I got pulled over by the Peachtree City police. I did not have my permanent Georgia license yet, so when the officer asked to see my license I handed him the large, pink piece of paper the DMV had given me.

“Why don’t you have a permanent license?” the officer asked me. When I remember this story, the officer’s drawl gets worse and worse each time.

“Oh, I just moved here a few weeks ago,” I said, nervous because this was the first time I had been pulled over, ever.

“Welcome to Peachtree City,” he said, handing me my first ticket.

I felt just like Kevin Bacon in “Footloose,” minus the ability to dance and the dashing good looks.

Several weeks later, I got my second ticket ever. This time on Georgia Hwy 74 in Tyrone from, no lie, Officer Cash.

Now, both times I was pulled over, I may have been speeding. Nothing too crazy. I wasn’t weaving all over the place without a directional, passing motorists on either side. I can’t say that I didn’t deserve the tickets, because I probably did, but I wondered where the leniency was, especially with the first ticket. Wasn’t it obvious to the officer that I was yet another kid being forced to make a tough transition to a new life in Peachtree City? Dude, I just moved here. It’s November. What does that tell you? Is this really the way you want to introduce yourself to teenagers in this town?

Yes. Yes, it was. I learned very early on that there would be no leniency from the Peachtree City Police. My parents, who had been as supportive as possible during the transition, were also not feeling as patient or lenient anymore.

“One more ticket and the car is gone,” my father said.

I kept an eye on my speed from that point on and kept the car.

How else would I be able to escape?

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Spear Road Guy's picture
Submitted by Spear Road Guy on Fri, 04/10/2009 - 8:28pm.

You could feel comfortable about going to the mall back then. And now Peachtree City is being run into the ground. Oh to be back in the day when a speeding ticket was all we had to worry about.

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