The Telephone Pole

The rocking chair squeaks against the old hard-wood floor as it rocks back and forth. I was contemplating getting up, but I love that rocking chair. It’s soothing to babies, and soothing to adults. It feels like a place where nothing will change, time will freeze, and baby kitty sleeps in my lap. I keep rocking, as I look out the window. The Japanese cherry blossom tree on the front yard only partially bloomed. It has been dying for years, but when it does bloom it is so beautiful, I can’t stand the thought of cutting it down. This year it bloomed over most of the tree but the flowers only lasted a day. Instead of the two weeks we are usually afforded. I still can’t remove it. I shift my weight, a fleeting thought of standing up is running through my head, but baby kitty stretches his front paws as though to say do it and your dead. As I settle back in the chair, begin rocking again, I see the end of the driveway. Our driveway has seen many cars, and many faces, and many feet in the last few years. That driveway has stood the test of snow, rain, blazing sun. It has oil stains, tire marks, and paint splatter. Beyond the driveway, away from the house, is a fence. And a sidewalk. Next to the sidewalk, off to the side so not to block the path of a person using it, a telephone pole. That telephone pole is what has my attention.


I remember the day like it was yesterday. Or today. It was hot for September that year. Even in the evening. It wasn’t cooling down like it normal would in New England. There was no bite of cool breeze. It was as though the universe was expelling my anger in the form of unseasonal heat. But I didn’t even notice it. Another day had been spent working (or trying at least) after spending an exhausting amount of time finding someone to stay with JoDee since I couldn’t leave her alone. I had picked her up from the place she was being “drug-sat” and was making dinner while she was sitting on the couch, playing with her brothers Ipod. I was sick. I was so desperate. I was so naïve in those days. I had no idea the wrath that was to come from her drug addiction. I wavered between crying and wanting to punch the face off anyone who came within arm’s length of me. I don’t remember what I was making for dinner, I don’t remember even eating back then, but I do remember AC coming in from work and immediately telling me she shouldn’t be using Jared’s Ipod. I told him that she was playing games, to give her some space, for god sakes. He said that girl can get on the internet with a microwave if it meant getting drugs. He was right.


I walked in the living room and knew from the look on her face, it was bad. We sat down on the couch with her, him on one side and me on the other. She knew she was screwed. I took the Ipod from her hand, and saw the thread of inbox messages between her and him. Bring me drugs. No. Yes. Your mother will see me. I don’t care, I can’t take it, I’m so sick (she was), I’m dying (she wasn’t). You will feel better soon. No I won’t. Later in the thread he agreed to drop of heroin, an arm band and a needle with a lighter near the telephone pole. As soon as I read it, I ran down the driveway, around the maple tree with the roots sticking out of the ground in the corner. I saw him. He saw me. He ran. I ran after him. Seconds are seconds. They go by in an instant but sometimes seconds are minutes, or hours, or years. Those few seconds had some much packed into them. Do I chase him? And if catch him, then what? Beat him up? Call the police? Call the police! I stopped in my tracks. He ran to his car, peeled out and took off. I walked in the house, telling AC and JoDee nothing was there. He must have not dropped it. I text message AC that there was a cigarette box by the pole that I watched him put there. I wanted AC to check it. He casual walked out of the house, and retrieved the box. It was a Newport Cigarette box. I watched him throw it by the telephone pole. I watched him deliver a box with a tiny baggy filled with brown powdery substance, a needle with an orange cap, a spoon that looked like something that was from the 1800’s and went a couple of rounds with the garbage disposal, with a small blue bic lighter. We didn’t want to take anything out of the box because thought they might finger print it (clearly we have seen one too many episodes of CSI or any number of shows on Investigation Discovery!) so we left everything in the box and delivered it to the police station.


Eventually he was picked up for distribution. I did not know that it was illegal to distribute drugs if you weren’t selling them. I didn’t even think they would arrest him, I thought it would just put him on the radar. I can’t say I wasn’t thrilled. I was. I was elated that he was arrested. I was celebrating it as a huge success. Score one for us. The realization that I would eventually have to tell JoDee that I had him arrested was sort of secondary at the time. I had brought Jared’s Ipod to the police station so they could take pictures of all the messages between them. She had no idea. She didn’t know for days. It took me a while to even tell her. It was a huge struggle. I didn’t want to tell her. I didn’t want her to know he was in jail because I was concerned that she would get angry and run away. Though, I’m not sure where she wouldn’t go since I had her only drug ally arrested. AC thought we should tell he because she was going to keep trying to reach out to him. He thought we should tell her that we mean business and we would have her locked up too, which I would have. Eventually, after we had come home from a meeting where I listen to the speaker talk about honesty and being honest with yourself and your family, I decided I had to tell her. And, to her credit, she took it much better than I thought she would. Undoubtedly she was angry. She was nervous that he would think she set him up. I told her that I made it perfectly clear that I wanted to police to tell him I was responsible for locking him up. I told them I would testify if I had too, which I didn’t, I just had to write an affidavit. After a few minutes, she was quiet. And still. I was afraid to even ask what she was thinking. She must have read my mind, because she said she was glad he was in jail. That maybe in jail he would get the help he needed. And knowing he was locked up, maybe she could get the help she needed.

It would be really nice if that was the end of the story. But we all know jail didn’t fix him, and her being away from him didn’t fix her. A few weeks after that incident JoDee relapsed again, and then she went to rehab that she would subsequently run from a few weeks after that. So much has happened in the years since that event. I have called the police on that particular person no less than 3 more times. JoDee is still an addict and he is too. I have no idea if he is in active addiction or not (I think he is in jail again). Occasionally, on days like this, I stare out the window, at that telephone pole, and think of all the things I thought would be compared to what actually was. It reminds me that addiction is a process for all involved. Not just the addict. This was a process for me. For me to realize that I have to stand certain grounds even though I think it will kill me. I have learned that I cannot anticipate the next “thing”, the next incident. I have no control over JoDee’s addiction, but I also have no control over anyone but myself. I have learned that parenting an adult is harder than parenting a child. And I have learned that responsibility is necessary for every single person to be truly self-accepting. When a person does not have to take responsibility for their actions, actions become decisions, decisions become choices, choices become habits and habits are hard to break.


As I sit in that rocking chair, listening to baby kitty purr in my lap, I remind myself that I am lucky. That my child has survived so far, even if has been painful and ugly. We are still lucky. Maybe that baggie of heroin was laced with something. Maybe that would have been the time she died. I will never know, but I think about it every time I look at that telephone pole. Kitty #2 is whining to come in and as AC opens the door he asks if I am ok. I tell him I’m fine. He says you look like you’re in outer space. He asks what I am thinking about. I open my mouth to say something, but nothing comes out. How do you vocalize all those thoughts, how do you explain that addiction might have made you a better parent. That addiction has changed our lives forever, but I feel grateful anyway. That the pole in our yard, strong and resilient, is symbolic of addiction in our family. Instead I say nothing. Somethings are just better left unsaid.

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