Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Across a new bridge

I haven't been able to blog for a few days. I think that I needed a few days to unwind, relax and finally find a good night's sleep that has eluded me for many weeks.

I've debated revealing the location of where I am from, because I wanted to keep things anonymous. After much thought, I think it's okay to do so. I say that, because I want to talk about where B is moving. I think it's important to share where B grew up, so that anyone can understand why I'm so happy that my son is moving to a new home.

B is currently living in Oakland-- not far from his treatment center. He is sharing an old home with 12 men. His room is on the third floor of the house, in the attic. That's a challenge for someone who is 6'3-- especially when his shower head is only 4' off the floor! I got to see the house, expecting the worse. It wasn't, nearly, as bad as I had imagined. The kitchen was pretty neat for 12 men. The living room was dark and not very homey-- something I couldn't help noticing. The carpet could use being replaced, but at least the men don't live in squalor.

I met B's roommate-- a man somewhere close to my age. He said that it was too hard to share a kitchen with that many people-- let alone share a small refrigerator. I could understand that.
So, B's roommate drove us to Benicia, Californa. Apparently, this roommate of B's has already decided to move into the house. My son would make roommate #3. On the way, it took 40 minutes to get there, because my son doesn't understand the geography of the area. Of course, that's a guy thing, isn't it? I did get maps for him from AAA, but has he used them? No! On the return trip, it took 20 minutes to return because we went the route that is closest. Note to self: buy my son a GPS for his birthday gift.

I have crossed over the bridge, to Benicia, on my way to Napa a few times before. You can't help noticing the moth ball fleet of retired ships and the refinery. But, once we headed into downtown Benicia, I was so impressed with it! It reminds me of our small hometown of Pacific Grove and a little bit of the mountains of Corral de Tierra-- where I live. I met B's future landlord/roommate-- another man somewhere in my age range. He has a 13 year old son who seems like a really nice kid (of course, I know that there are two sides to every "tween"...the one that the parents see and the ones their peers see). The four of us enjoyed lunch and I had a chance to chat with everyone.

What I really noticed is how different my son behaves around his older friends. It is such a contrast to the friends he had in Salinas, CA:

B grew up in the suburbs of Salinas. His father and I owned a 3-acre house with my five Arabian horses, swimming pool, and car shop. Life appeared good, until our marriage began to crumble to the point that our home became a place of tension and the joy was gone. B's father left me in 1996 and I moved into a small granny unit in a nice area of Monterey in 1997. Custody was shared 50/50 of B. I really wanted my son to go to a private school, but it was not financially possible. So, he attended a very large public high school in Salinas.

B was exposed to what I call "ag kids". These are kids whose parents are financially well off because of the agriculture business of Salinas. I was one of those moms who made my home an open door for B to bring home his friends. I invited them to join us for dinner, so that I could get to know them.

That's why I was so shocked to find out, a few years later, that most of these boys would turn out to be drug addicts. These are all kids who came from respectable families. So much for the stereotype troubled kid being a result of bad parents...

Salinas has had 13 murders since the first of this year. The gang scene has become so bad, that East Salinas is like a war zone. Gun shots are being fired off in neighborhoods that were once considered good real estate investments. A shooting happened just a couple of blocks away from his father's house. B moved in with his father a year ago, this month. Drugs are at the forefront of why the gangs are thriving in Salinas. I have lost hope that much can be done. So, I no longer drive anywhere near that area and I shop on the Monterey Peninsula.

My son has opened up to me about the places in East Salinas where he has been. These are neighborhoods that I would never venture into-- day or night. Once, I got lost in that area and it scared me half to death! He has mixed in with the gang members, but he never joined the gang. Unfortunately, his choice of music is rap and his way of speaking took on tones of street slang. I never liked that.

I live in a very safe area of Salinas-- in my safe bubble...a gated community, along the foothills of Salinas Valley. I live where I feel safe walking at night, and I thank God every single day for being able to live in my home.

That is why, as I crossed over the bridge to Benicia, I could feel a total culture change from what my son has known for most of his high school years. I did not see gang graffiti, nor the large population of Hispanic people. Please know, that I am 50% Hispanic and I am not ashamed of my roots. Unfortunately, the gangs of Salinas are comprised of primarily Hispanic people. I do NOT have a prejudice against Mexicans. I have a deep hatred for the gang life-- and there are very few things that I use the word "hate" towards.

I watched my son sitting in the living room of the home in Benicia that he really wanted to move to. I realized, then, that this new arrangement would hold a positive promise for my son. He will be far away from the "street" culture that he's been involved with. He'll be living with two mature men, who are both in recovery. The three of them talked about grilling at home, and how much money they would save not having to eat out every day. Sure, I wonder if all three of them will hinder or help one another in their recovery. I have prayed about this, and I realize that I need to let me son make his choices and suffer either the victories of consequences of this.

So, I agreed to let him use his trust fund for two more months-- under the condition that he earns and pays the rent increase different of $180.00 a month. The trust fund help will run out in 90 days, too. It's important for B to make finding a job his priority. He has a part-time job, but there are golf courses around.

B was really happy that I agreed to let him do this. After all, his only hope of doing this was to tap into his trust fund that he is not to receive until he is 25. I do believe that my mother would want me to invest in B's sobriety.

My son looks good, and I do not think that he's using. I say this, because he is speaking clearly. He isn't hostile towards me, either.

That's my latest update for today. I will post more, tomorrow. I have a lot more to share, but I need to return to work.

Thank you, everyone, for your encouragement.


Anonymous said...

Debby, your comment: "He isn't hostile towards me, either." rang loud and clear.....We need to talk when time permits....please?

Mike and Melaine said...

Hi Debby,
still praying for B each time I have my coffee...which is a lot.
and praying for you too.
many hugs and tears,