I’ll leave your bags by the dumpster. Don’t forget to brush.

February 15, 2019

Tonight, I packed my eighteen year old son’s stuff in two trash bags and a shopping bag and left them all in by a dumpster. I walked away and didn’t look back until just before I got in. He was standing in the middle of the driveway, looking around for the bags as if they weren’t right next to him. It was ten degrees, he was wearing a tee shirt, and somebody else’s sneakers. I don’t think he believed I’d actually drop off his clothes and leave. He looked up at me, and I don’t know what his face said. Fuck you, maybe. Why? Did you remember my toothbrush? What is going to happen to me now?

My son’s smile is warmer than the sun after winter. He is funny, and he can dance. He used to play basketball for hours, and if he wasn’t on the court, he always wanted to be connected to some kind of ball. If we went for a walk on the beach, we had to throw a football. If we took the dogs for a walk, he was in charge of the tennis ball. He’d dribble in his room. He’d play basketball in the driveway and eat dinner in between shots. My son stopped smiling about two years ago.

He still lived with me until today. In sophomore year of high school, sports and school were just hobbies. Drugs took over. Doing drugs. Posting pictures of doing drugs, or lip syncing to songs about drugs. Going to the woods, to the quarries, to whoever’s house was unoccupied by parents or belonged to parents that had their own stash and shared.

I’m not going to tell the tale of then to now. I don’t know how we got from early morning cereal before the game, to begging him to wake up to go to class at a community college because a judge made it a condition of his release.

I just know my son is not here tonight because I told him not to be. He is staying at a house with a dumpster in the driveway, that reeks like weed from ten feet away. He is staying there because last night on the phone he refused to come home. His words were slurred, and sloppy, his voice didn’t belong to him. And he’s been doing drugs for a while, so there’s something new on the menu.

He promised last night he’d wake up in the morning, and go to school. I was supposed to pick him up on my way to drop his little sister off at school.  “Mom, I’ll be ready.” He’d straightened up a bit by the time our last conversation.

I woke up early, packed his toothbrush, and a change of clothes. Gathered his textbook and his laptop from under the bed, and didn’t look around for anything else because I didn’t want to find anything else.

He didn’t wake up. About ten minutes after class started, he picked up the phone and explained he’d overslept. Like that was a reason for missing school for the forth day in a row. “You didn’t wake me up,” he whispered, still half asleep. “I called you five times, Colin.” “But that didn’t work. I can’t hear my phone when I’m sleeping.”

Today when I got home, I packed his stuff. It’s Thursday, he has no class until Monday, and no job, so he’d spend all his time at the house with the weed and the dumpster and other kids just like him. They’ll fight over their juuls. They’ll stare at their phones. They’ll vape. They’ll smoke. They’ll talk about how much parents suck, and wonder if any of them are going out of town any time soon. They’ll get wasted, and then they’ll pass out, and then they’ll try to figure out how to get food. They like cereal, and buffalo wings, and taco bell. They like Twisted Tea and Gatorade. They like Dunks and Doritos. They eat scrambled eggs when none of them has money and they never clean out the pan. I’ve seen pictures.

If I hadn’t told him he couldn’t come home, he might not of come home. Or he might have stopped by to grab a clean pair of pants, take a shower, make me some promises about next week. And I would have believed them.

So let him stay where he would be anyway. He can shower there, or not. He’ll just smell like tobacco and weed, no matter what. And I won’t have to believe him when he promises next week will be different.

I wish I could say things will get better. I wish I could describe a magical moment our eyes met when we glanced at each other before I drove away. But there was no magic.

We were too far away.

I’m as hooked on the sound of his voice and his stories as he is on the life he has chosen. I had to stop listening.

But I would kill to lean into his shoulder, have his arms wrap around my back, listen to the sound of the ball in the driveway, hear him laugh, snap at his sister, or nag him about his socks on the stairs.

Those damn socks aren’t going anywhere until he comes home.

2 Responses to “I’ll leave your bags by the dumpster. Don’t forget to brush.”

  1. I love to hear comments from fellow bloggers! Thanks for taking the time to read. julie

  2. Julie! I wish you’d called me. This is devastating to read. As usual, you capture things so beautifully in your writing but I almost wish you hadn’t it’s so sad. Please call me. I can help you get help for Colin and you must do it. He can’t fight this on his own. Let’s talk! Lots and lots of love to you, Julia

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