I saw n. and met his friend Nigel when they came to my house unannounced early yesterday evening. N.’s duffel bag had appeared in my back yard when I came home from work. He rang the doorbell a short while later. N. didn’t introduce Nigel until I asked, near the end of the visit. N. has told me that Nigel is older than 18, but he is short and slight and looks younger. N. asked for money for food. I offered them the supplies to make sandwiches while they sat on the porch, and they accepted my offer. They spent some of their time with notepads writing songs and the storyline of a role-laying game that they were acting out.
N. was energetic and disorderly. He was yelling and acting out and he managed to get into an argument with a passing pedestrian. I wondered if he was testing to see if I would lose my temper and send him away. I thought I caught a smell of liquor. They were under the influence of some substance. N. asked me to buy cigarettes or a pouch of rolling tobacco. He said he was stressed because his girlfriend had dumped him and he had been living on the street. He said he had passed up a chance to smoke – he was talking about crystal. He wanted to leave his bag with me because it was too heavy to carry around. He said he was living under a bridge. I said I knew that he had stayed in a shelter.
N. also suggested that I speak to his mother and everyone who might be thinking of getting him a birthday gift (his birthday is two weeks away). He said he had no room for things, and would appreciate it if people pooled their funds to help him rent an apartment. I told him that I would take him out for his birthday and get him a gift. I said I would think about how I could help him get established in an apartment after he had found a job and held it for a while. I pointed out that he could stay in CFS care and get some job training and help in finding a job.
I bought n.some tobacco. I thought that it was gesture of support that he would appreciate. I don’t think it will keep him away from other drugs. I offered to let him keep his bag in the garden shed where he could get it if I was’t home. He wanted to put it in the house. I think I will go through it and wash his clothes. I warned him that I would not be staying home waiting for him to pick a time to visit for a change of clothes.
I called his mom this morning. She says he spent the night at the shelter on Mayfair, or called her from the shelter this morning. She wanted to go to my house to let n. get some things from his duffel bag. She said he was telling her that he is depressed about breaking up with his girlfriend and that he admitted that he had been drinking and had eventually punched his friend Nigel. She said she had made sure he had the contact numbers for CFS if he chooses to go back into care. He also knows where the shelters are, and he knows the rules. She said he also expressed his birthday wish – for financial help to have his own apartment – to her. She agrees, she says, that he should not have a place of his own until he is stable and able to look after himself.
Last winter when he was in the hotel on McPhillips he said he thought he would spend the summer on the street and that seems to be what he has done. He has run into some problems and he has managed to draw his mom and me in. He hasn’t figured out how to pay for the lifestyle he wants.
I think he sincerely believes that he would be better able to give up crystal meth and other hard drugs and get a job if he had a decent place to stay. He also says he would manage his use of alcohol, marijuana and soft drugs better. I have a continuing dilema. He is under a lot of stress on the street, and the pressure to use drugs is pretty high. CFS placements are not ideal. There is very little supervision, and and the peer pressure to maintain drug use and irresponsible behaviour is high there too. But I think if he had a safe apartment and food he would still be using drugs – probably he would be using more – and he would be exploited by the street kids he knows now.
I am writing the same things about n. over and over. There are a few changes. He has started to come back to us for help again, and he has started to try to leave his things in a safe place instead of abandoning them.