Monday, April 13, 2009
This is Mike
Can you believe I was extremely shy as a child? I was probably perceived as rude when people talked to me and I responded by hiding behind my mother clutching her skirt like a curtain over my face. That probably looked pretty ridiculous when I was 16. Just kidding! Actually I was extremely shy until I was about 12 dropping the skirt camouflage at around 3 and turning to looking down and shuffling my feet.
Now I am extremely comfortable talking to anyone about almost anything. This was developed when I was a street cop and an Internal Affairs Sergeant. Needing to establish instant rapport sometimes meant the avoidance of fighting or resistance by the contacted party.
I still am that way. I'll talk to the grocery clerk, or the guy helping to fix my phone. [and no, I am not that type of person who talks to just anyone on the street or to birds in the trees] Sometimes I find it challenging to find some common ground or areas of similar interest and every once in a while, I'll realize early on, they don't want to be bothered. On the other hand, more often than not, I'll find someone that has lead an extraordinary life.
Mike was one of our transports. After two days on the road with him. He shared with me and my partner his troubled childhood, his innate talent and success as a professional skateboard performer in Las Vegas as a teen and how it was squashed early on by being placed in a foster home because of neglective and abusive parents. Drugs helped him cope but then lead to two jail stints. Now he was trying to start anew with a new girlfriend and young children. He turned himself in for a charge he claims he is innocent of. This took him away from his 4 year old daughter and 2 year old son but he sees this as an opportunity of wiping the slate clean. My partner and I have the same philosophy of the possibility of change and setting a new course no matter what life dealt you in the past. Hopefully we both encouraged him that things will get better and he will return to be a positive influence on his children.
What Mike did for me was remind me how important my role as a parent is no matter how seemingly brief my time with them is. Even though my budget has me eating cereal and peanut butter sandwiches near the end of the month so my kids eat better, it is much better than what life in jail or prison is. I can choose when to eat, what to eat, when to sleep, shower and able to go outside when I want for as long as I want. The fact he savored the fresh air when we had the car window down as we were driving underscored the fact the little things do mean a lot.
[this is watercolor, pen and gouache on a 8x10 Fredrix watercolor board]