I wrote this today. It was an unexpected day off due to snow…no school. A chance to do something different or more of the same. I chose something different. I chose to write about my encounter with my son.
He hates me. I see it in his eyes. He wasn’t happy to see me, even though I was, in my own motherly sort of way. I had finally found him. I gave him an uncomfortable hug from an odd angle, him sitting, me standing, short portable wall in the way. “How are you?” I asked with a smile. He stared, that blank “I don’t give a shit” stare. “I bought you some socks, some wool socks.” I said as I gave him the gift bag that had been hanging in the hallway since Christmas. The gift bag that went with us whenever we ran errands in case we happened to run into him. The gift bag I took to the library, specifically to look for him because I knew it was a known place for him to hang out and use the computer. The gift bag was my, little welcomed, effort to pretend things were normal, when they weren’t.
As I stood next to the cubicle where he was sitting, looking at images of Dragon Ball Z, I wanted to go down the list of things that were included in the little goody bag, like some dollar gloves, a cast off can of V-8; something I used to drink but no longer. Give it to Alexander, I remember telling myself; he’ll drink anything…but if he doesn’t, I won’t know it, and it’s better than me tossing it in the garbage.
I wanted to tell him that I put some Lindt truffles in the bag, as a little treat….oooh…that will make living on the streets a little sweeter! I didn’t tell him that I put some cologne samples in the bag. I remember putting them in there, the little stocking stuffers, thinking that it would be a nice treat to smell good for a change. Hmmm I wonder how layered sweat, the smell of unwashed clothes and body odor would mix with Chrome? Were there enough samples to wash the smell of homelessness away?
I did tell him about the letters he received from Harbor Homes….”I sent you a message on Facebook” “I wrote that you should stop in and pick them up”….in case they were important, I finished saying in my head; knowing full well that they are important if you want help from an organization whose job it is to help the homeless. But I also knew that in the scheme of things, Alexander has nothing but time on his hands, so if he misses one appointment, another can be scheduled.
I also told him about the wool socks; my Christmas gift to him. These were not the run of the mill socks. These were wool socks, “not too thick” I said to him, but made of wool to keep his feet warm and perhaps a semblance of dry. No these were no ordinary socks, they were made of wool, good wool and they were an expensive pair of socks too. That’s the least I could do for him, keep his feet warm during the minus ten cold New England winter homeless nights. He was not impressed with my motherly gift.
As he put the bag out of his way, behind the monitor, I whispered to him, just in case anybody listening got any ideas to steal the bag from him. “There’s a Dunkin Donuts card in the bag.” I figured if nothing else, at least he’d be happy for that. But no, my thanks was a blank stare; but that’s ok, I am used to it. Next thing on my mental list… “What’s your email address? I used to have it, but it was on another account and I don’t have that account anymore.” He looked at me with impassive eyes. “I can’t hear you” he said in a loud voice, as he took off his headphones. I repeated myself, “I need your email address.” He said something, which I couldn’t make out, so I suggested he send me an email if he had his email account open. This only annoyed him, but he started to look at his screen, at which point I went looking for a piece of paper and a pen, handed it over to him and asked him to write it down for me. As I watched him write down his email address, I admired his neat, slightly loose handwriting. I’ll be able to keep in contact with him, let him know when he gets important dated letters. Ask how he’s doing; maybe have him come over for a quick bite to eat –and run the risk of him wanting to start sleeping on the porch again….hmmm maybe not.
As I stuffed the paper in my snuggy coat, I asked him how he was doing. In a harsh monotone voice his response was “What do you think? I sleep under a stoop at night.” As he said this to me, I looked at him, he looked healthy not gaunt, he smelled a little, but I wasn’t getting too close and it was a big open area, so his typical body odor was not as pungent as it usually is when he comes for a visit. My response to his comment was my predictable “You could go to Community Council, get back on the meds.” But as always, it fell on deaf ears. He doesn’t want to hear what he’s heard from me before. I gave him a kiss, and he grunted, he wasn’t impressed with my motherly show of affection. I said my goodbyes, and left.
He hates me. I saw it in his eyes. As far as he’s concerned, I’m a bad mother. If I were a good mother, I’d be taking care of him. I wouldn’t allow him to be homeless. I would provide for him, like all good mothers do. I would feed him, shelter him, wash his clothes and allow him to take a shower in my home. It’s what I used to do, back in the day when he was a kid, a teen. But he’s no longer a teen, he’s a man. He’s a man with a mental illness. He’s a man who has chosen to no longer take medication. A man who feels that having a job is unnecessary –because money shouldn’t be an issue…there’s always bartering. He’s a man who feels the world owes him and ironically, the world does give him a place to sleep, al fresco, rent free as it were. As I left the building, I couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed that my son has not been able to change his homeless and jobless situation or his mental state. But I’m not a bad mother. I am just a mother who has realized that there is nothing I can do for him other than buy him good wool socks and a Dunkin Donuts card and hope that he uses them in good health.
16 January 2013
We have since corresponded via email. Short emails. He has used his DD card and he thanked me for it.