Wednesday, August 25, 2010

My Life With Comic Books: Part # 144

The current cast of characters:
Paul Howley: age 44
Mal Howley: my wife
Adam Howley: my son, age 19
Cassy Howley: my daughter, age 15


This chapter was originally going to be about the friend of Cassy’s who came to live with us for a while, but I realized that it happened after the events in the story that I’ll be telling now.

Our son, Adam, was spending the summer in beautiful Newport, Rhode Island with Phil, his best friend from high school. They were living in a nice, fully equipped small home behind one of the famous Newport mansions, just a short walk away from the ocean. It was Adam’s intention to work full-time to save up some money to pay for his second year of college at The Boston Conservatory but he knew he’d have lots of time to enjoy this three-month arrangement.

Adam was a very independent nineteen-year old and although he did like to have fun, we assumed that he’d make smart decisions, especially because he would be living with Phil. But, as it turned out, Phil had several family trips planned so Adam was basically living by himself for quite a bit of the time. Adam enjoyed being with people, so he explored the area in an attempt to connect with people his own age. Adam would call us about once every two weeks, mostly because we pressured him to call. He’d fill us in on his activities, his hunt for employment, and he’d tell us about his newly made friends from Rhode Island. It was his new friends that worried us.

Mal, Cassy and I spent a weekend in Newport so that we could visit Adam since we hadn’t really gotten to spend much time with him since he went off to college in 1998. Cassy went to spend the night at Adam’s place. The next day we decided to take Adam out to lunch so we met him at a park where he was hanging out with some of his new friends.

These young people (nicknamed “Park Rats”) spent most of their waking hours hanging out in a seaside park in Newport. Most of these kids were in their late teens. They were tattooed, pierced, and dressed in a punk-style. Some of them used various illegal drugs, (Ecstasy was the most abused drug) while most of these kids smoked cigarettes and illegally consumed alcohol. These were not the kind of kids we wanted Adam to be spending time with but I was surprised to hear all of the nice things they had to say about my son. It was clear that they loved him. This was comforting to us but we were still concerned about the influence that these kids could have on Adam. Adam was a confident “leader” as a youngster and wasn’t easily swayed by peer pressure. We hoped this would continue to be one of Adam’s strengths.

Adam got a full-time job working as a reservations clerk for a local hotel. He didn’t like the job because he was stuck in an office with no personal contact with other people but he knew he needed the money for college. He told us, quite frequently, when he’d call us, how much he hated this job.

Late one night, at about midnight, Adam called us. He told us that he and his long-time girlfriend, Meridith, had just broken up. Although he assured me that the decision was mutual, I didn’t believe him. From our conversation, and the lateness of the phone call, I could tell that the break-up was not his idea. I knew he loved her. We had no good advice for him so we just listened while he tried to express his thoughts about this situation. Eventually it became clear that Meridith was unhappy with the way Adam was currently living and spending so much time with the “park rats.” She told Adam that he needed to grow up before they could get back together. Adam tried to convince us, (and himself) that this break-up was a good thing.

As the weeks went by, Adam seemed to believe that everything was under control and he’d tell us about some of the positive things going on in the lives of his new friends. He’d call to tell us how excited he was that he convinced one of his friends to stop using heroin and that he got him to join a drug abuse program. He told us about how he convinced another kid that a “life of crime” was not a good thing. While we were glad that Adam was helping these kids, we really just wanted him to come home because we were nervous about the influence this group could have on him. Adam insisted that this is where he needed to be. He was now an adult and he could legally make these kinds of decisions on his own. Besides, the summer would be ending soon and he’d be going back to college.

Next chapter: In the meantime, Cassy has a school friend who needs a place to live.
Pictures: Adam and some of his Rhode Island friends.

1 comment:

  1. I understand your reservations.

    My son, who was also named Adam, ended up joining a "motorcycle club" (which is just a nice way of saying biker gang) while serving in the Army.

    That led to his eventual downfall...