I owe you an apology. In 2002 when my family moved to Pickens County I didn’t know you yet. I only knew I didn’t want to live here. We became friends and for all of high school you put up with me talking about how much I missed North Carolina, how much better things were up there. I owe you an apology because I was wrong.
I loved my time in North Carolina. As childhoods go, it was pretty dreamy. I played rec. league sports and competed on a summer league swim team. I had neighbors close to my age that always wanted to play outside. I went to great schools and made awesome friends. I had multiple shopping malls within a reasonable driving range… that’s key for a teenage girl… or I thought it was. North Carolina was good to me. I still maintain her barbecue is better, but I am slowly folding on a lot of other things.
Remember the time we got into a huge blowout fight over my North Carolina obsession? It was junior year and you’d had enough. You told me that you were tired of me talking about my hometown like it was so much better than yours. Remember that? I do, because I still feel bad about it.
I wanted to say I’m sorry, but I also want to say thank you. We had that one big fight, but you stuck by me. We settled that battle and you didn’t give up on convincing me. You showed me so many of the things I love so much about this place now.
You taught a suburban-bred kid how to spend a Saturday without roaming the local mall. We drove back roads blasting Paul Simon, Phish, The Grateful Dead… all the bands you were cool enough to know. We followed your dad’s band around to shows all over the Upstate.
You showed me the best things about Lake Hartwell; how to get to all the rope swings; the private beaches Clemson students don’t know about. You taught me how to sneak into the Clemson pool for days on end before anyone noticed… I assume the statute of limitations is up on this. We can’t get in trouble now, can we?
You showed me the old little league field in Central that is perfect for home run derbies because anyone, seriously almost anyone, can hit it out of the park. How many days did we spend knocking softballs over that fence?
You taught me all about thrift shopping, buying stupid t-shirts from goodwill that would make people ask “oh when did you go on a cruise to St. Maarten?” Never. I just cruised on over to the goodwill on Main Street in Central, my friend.
You took me to Clemson games, Spitoono, more Clemson games, your brother’s little league games. You found a thousand different ways to show me how much fun a small town could be. I know I resisted. I know I talked about leaving. I know even when I finished college I was still determined to leave.
But you need to know that you’ve won, Laura. Your years of effort to convince me Pickens County is a fine place to be paid off.
I was a 15 year old who never wanted to be here, now I’m a 25 year old who can’t even drive through your home, no.. MY home… without stopping to take a photo (see below).