Even though our winter hasn’t been too bad in our neck of the woods, the lure to see a friend who lives in Florida was strong non-the-less. The day I left to visit her it was 57 degrees in RI, the same temperature it was in Tampa.
My first flight was to leave at a grueling 5:30 am, and I dutifully showed up at the airport at 4:00 am. The need for such an early arrival escaped me, as the airport seemed almost deserted except for the looooooong line of people waiting to check in at Southwest Airlines. Having printed my own boarding pass and with no luggage to check, I made my way to the security line where I was ushered into the ”pre-check” line generally reserved for the elderly and disabled. Miffed to be considered eligible for this line, I was also disappointed to miss the titillating experience of the full body x-ray machine, but keeping my shoes on was a good compromise.
Without much airplane booking experience, I had not realized that my first flight was a commuter flight to Detroit, which seemed to be a ridicules way to get to Florida from New England. The plane was pretty tiny on the outside, and seemed to be even smaller on the inside with a low ceiling and seats two by two on either side of the skinny aisle, through which I had to turn sideways to make it to my seat. Sitting next to a stranger, I had to keep my arms crossed at my chest in order to avoid touching his arm that had commandeered the arm rest. Positioning hardly mattered as, characteristically, I fell asleep as soon as the plane took off, getting nudged awake when we landed. Also characteristically, the next flight was taking off from a gate far, far away. As I watched others heading for their connections, women my age running clumsily, hair flying behind them, carry-on suitcase clunking along, I was grateful for my two hour layover. Slowly making my way along the “moving sidewalks”, it was enjoyable to just stand to the side and window shop the many stores along the concourse without moving a muscle. Who knew that Porsche sold suitcases and pocket books! The Dylan Candy Store looked like one big Hello Kitty ad. And if I wanted to buy golf pants, now would be the time to do so as the PGA Golf store had them for half price.
For the tunnel from one side of the airport to the other, I was pleasantly surprised by an unusual artistic endeavor. The walls of the long tunnel seemed to be made of stained glass with ever changing colors, synchronized to peaceful, beautiful music. As I rode on the walkway, my heart subconsciously rose and fell with the wave of the music, calming me throughout the long trek. This experience rivaled anything that could be found at Disney World or other Floridian tourist attractions. And it was found in Detroit! By the end of the tunnel, my heart was thankful for the amazingly emotional performance, and I was no longer upset that I had taken a commuter flight.
I have been remiss in my writings, basically because I have been involved in the day to day activities of raising three teenagers with serious disabilities. For some reason, these disabilities were not serious before. I could find humor and joy in every day facets of our lives. Now that they are teenagers, humor sometimes escapes me, replaced by more serious concerns such as driving, (yes, every parent’s nightmare has come to me,) and drugs. Well, “only” a little marijuana, used by my nineteen year old son with ADHD, Asperger’s and OCD who has refused to take his more traditional drugs. He says that pot helps control his symptoms better, and although I was mortified, by all standards except the legal one, pot is the lesser of the evils of the strong psych meds he was on. The meds he insisted made him feel “out of it” and nauseous all day. The ones that either plagued him with nightmares and kept him up all night, or made him so tired he could not function well. Steven has tried a boatload of drugs, none of which controlled his symptoms as well as pot. This is a very difficult concept for a sweet little old mother like me to understand. I still tell him NO NO NO NO and I kick him out of the house every time he comes home smelling like…well, YOU know… But I have to admit that his mellow mood also mellows me out, erasing the fear I always had that he would have a violent tantrum at any time, punching a hole in the wall, or throwing the newspapers so they scatter around the living room. Please don’t send the police to my door, my precious door that does not have a mark on it because Steven no longer kicks it.
Steven has reached “adulthood” in the legal sense, (although he will never be an adult in my eyes.) He can refuse to take his medication and I can’t make him. Not that it helped all that much anyway.
His life is in flux. His disability prevents him from doing a regular job because focusing is still an issue for him. The only thing he had been interested in were reptiles, alligators, snakes, turtles. (OCD makes strange obsessions.) He had volunteered at a local facility for such creatures, and loved it, but the facility closed down. Now he struggles daily to find something to do.
I recently visited a friend who lives near the Everglades in Florida. She lamented the ever present alligators, and their risk to her little pups, Scottish Terriers. She told me how the alligators show up in the man made lakes in mobile home parks, and on the banks of the rivers nearby. How Steven would LOVE to live in such a place, I thought. He would make a wonderful critter catcher in that area! It crossed my mind to purchase a small house in Florida, use it as a vacation home, and bring Steven down to live there. He would be in his glory working in a company that catches nuisance alligators. Or he could use his experience as the alligator wrestler he was for the previous reptile facility that had closed. I wonder how many employees fill out an application at the alligator tourist spots having already had such experience as an “alligator wrangler”. I became excited at the idea that the perfect job DOES exist for him, except it is in Florida, 2000 miles away. Maybe, if I am ever able to save any money, I can follow through on that vacation home dream and find a place for Steven where he can live happily. And maybe then he won’t need the marijuana…
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