It has now been a couple of days since I've seen Mike. I last saw him on Wednesday night when I picked him up after his work shift and dropped him off at the (new) friend's house where is staying. I reminded him yesterday that I would be unavailable Thursday (meeting out of town in the metro area), but he called anyway, wondering if I could give him a ride to work. I couldn't and told him that he'd need to call me this morning to get together.
I didn't hear from him this morning. I figure that he's an adult (legally, at least), has been in jail numerous times and seems to be able to find a place to stay each night so I don't need to follow him around with telephone calls, especially when I'm not sure where to find him. This afternoon, on my way to a town two hours from ours to pick up our eighteen-year-old son, John, who is coming home for the weekend for the first time in nearly a year, my cell phone rang. I was in the midst of following my iPhone's GPS map, so I couldn't answer. Mike left a breathless message to "call as soon as you can." Since Mike's physical location does not always match the cell phone number from which he has called, I chose to wait for him to call me back instead.
The cell rang a few minutes after picking up John. "Hey, dad, it's me, Mike. Can you give me a ride to work?"
It was 3:45. He needed to work at 4:00.
"I'm sorry, Mike. I'm not in town right now. It's why I told you yesterday to call me this morning."
"Oh. Do you think you can call B[urger] K[ing] for me to tell them I'm going to be late for work?"
"Um, no. I don't even have their number. You can call them to let them know you'll be late for work."
"Well, I thought your iPhone had that google feature."
"Yes, it does, but I'm driving right now and I'm not going to take the time to find that number to call for you. You can do that for yourself."
"Okaaayy. When will you be back?"
I told him my approximate arrival time.
Two hours later, five minutes after stepping foot into our home, the cell phone rang again. "Dad?"
"Are you home now?"
"Yes, Mike. I've been here five minutes." Who says FASD people don't have a sense of time? (I'm only being facetious, but it has always disarmed me when Mike is able to put things together when he really needs to).
"So, you can think we can meet up so I can get that check [to help pay his rent while he stays with a friend]? I can come by the house."
"No, Mike. You can't come by the house. That would violate the restraining order."
"Oh, yeah. How about we meet at that park on top of the hill?"
"You mean E[rlandson] Park?" I confirmed.
"Yeah, that one."
"OK. I'll be there in ten minutes. See you then."
I arrive at the park in question, turn off my ignition and listen to the radio. I wait patiently as five minutes turn into ten. I am beginning to feel frustrated by this turn of events as my cell phone rings once again.
"Dad? Are you at the park yet?"
"Yes, Mike, I've been waiting here for ten minutes."
"Well, where are you?"
"I am in the parking lot."
"I don't see you."
"Are you at E[rlandson] Park, Mike?"
Garbled background noise as I hear his voice asking his friend where they are.
"Oh, I guess we are at A[lexander]. We'll be there in a minute."
I smile. Our town is not that big, the two parks are not that far apart, and I made certain in our initial conversation to confirm the location by name, not by geographic estimate. There was a time for me when Mike's rapid movements from mental lucidity to cloudiness really irritated me. I believed that if he could remember something on one occasion, he should be able to repeat the performance. But I have learned over the years that this is simply not how Mike's mind works. And I have had to learn that it is MIke I care about, not the functioning of his brain patterns. Yes, it is still irritating to me, but I am getting over it year by year.
His friend and Mike pull up in an old car. I nod greetings to his friend who exchanges the masculine pseudo-gesture of polite recognition as Mike hops out of the car to open my door.
"Hey, Dad. Sorry about that. Do you have the check?"
I hand him the check. He pauses, looks at the check, glances around the parking lot and says with a silly grin that lights up his freckled face and makes his blue-green eyes sparkle.
"You know this looks like a drug deal."
It's ironic. In this paternal/child interaction he is the experienced one, I am the novice. Mike would know what a drug deal looks and feel like. I would not (unless you count watching too many episodes of COPS).
"Yeah, MIke, I guess it does."
"So, anyway, thanks. I'll call you tomorrow."
With that he bounds back into his friend's car and our daily interaction is complete. It has now been just about two weeks since Mike got out of jail, and from all I can tell he is doing as well as he ever has. There is no reason to suspect that he is using chemicals of any sort, he is not involved in illegal activity, he has a place to stay. For Mike this has been a pretty successful run.