Thursday, October 22, 2009

Virginia is For Lovers

About two years ago, Jake took off for his ill-fated attempt at living on his own in Virginia. Friends of his from high school (Mia, Kevin and Tim) were renting a house in Lynchburg and told him they had an extra room that had his name on it. He went for it.

The reason they all wound up in Virginia in the first place was because Mia had gotten a scholarship to Randolph College. Her boyfriend, Kevin moved up there to be near her and brought along his friend, Tim.

Just weeks after Jake arrived, two guys with guns walked into the living room and demanded money. Tim was shot in the arm and a gun was put in Jake's mouth. Kevin, who had been upstairs sleeping, called the police. In the confusion, Jake, Tim and Kevin managed to run away. The gunman is in jail now.

I don't believe any of the "boys" realized what a dangerous neighborhood they had moved into. Traumatized, they packed up their belongings and returned to Texas where Mia, Kevin and Jake found another house to share.

This past summer, Mia's best friend from Randolph College came for a visit. Her name is Yifei (E-fay). She planned to stay for a couple of months and take some courses at the community college. Jake and Yifei had met before in Virginia and as the days went by in the house they all shared they became a couple.

Yifei has been good for him. She wants him to get serious about his life, quit doing those things that are harmful to his health, go back to school and get a better job. She loves him. And he wants to be a better person because of her.

Late August when it was time for Yifei to return to school in Virginia, Jake went with her to help her get settled. Once there, he remembered how much he liked the area and how much better he felt in that climate. He didn't need his allergy medication or anything else that he had been taking in Texas.

He called me almost daily and I could hear in his voice how happy he was. Finally, I suggested he think about staying. He was planning to move out of Kevin's house anyway and we had been discouraged about the cost of an apartment for him in our area.

Jake did some checking and found that apartments across from Yifei's college were almost half the cost of apartments near us and they included one benefit he couldn't get in Texas- Yifei. Suffice it to say, he decided to make the move.

Jake flew home and packed all of his belongings in a U-Haul hitched to his truck. He asked me if I could ride along to help him with the driving and with the new apartment.

The drive took twenty hours. We stopped at a hotel one night along the way. It wasn't bad at all. Turns out, we like the same kind of music and he even allowed me to sing along (when he was asleep!). We had some interesting conversations about how both of us are heading into a new phase of our lives. I knew I would be giving him advice on the road, but I never expected him to give me some, too.

We both enjoyed the fall foliage we got to see as we traveled up north:

Finally, we pulled into the apartment complex:

Yifei walked over from her dorm.

It's a lovely, quiet complex about a block from Yifei's college. We unloaded everything and set up the furniture:

Yifei and Jake made a fantastic Chinese meal for our first dinner in the apartment:

And then the most shocking thing happened. Jake helped clean up!

I'm told the apartment looks completely different already. I'll post some photos when i get them.

The following day, I got a tour of the campus:

During our long drive to Virginia, I was aware that I had to leave Jake with some good advice. We talked in depth about his future, but I wanted one good line to leave him with. So when I hugged him goodbye I said, "She wants to help you have a better future. Let her."

That was OK, don't you think? Then just for good measure, I hugged Yifei and said, "You're the best thing that ever happened to him."

Fingers crossed.


Barbara Russell said...

My fingers are crossed too!

NJKar said...

I have my fingers crossed too! Sounds like he and his girlfriend are off to a great start!

heylaw said...

What a heartwarming story! I'm so happy for everyone involved. The first time I met my son, Justin's girlfriend (now wife), I told her that anyone who could make my son smile that way, had a special place in my heart! Good luck to them...

Soul Reporter said...

This is a great new direction for Jake, and I'm proud of him for wanting a better life. Yes, THE girl does seem to be the motivater lots of times. I bought my son's "life-changer" very nice birthday and Christmas gifts as a thank you to her for helping my son give up his thug lifestyle. :-) Cheers to Jake.

caryl said...

Thank, you guys! We're all Moms, so we all know what it means when it looks like your child has a shot at happiness.

And, SR, you've been right there for me with this kid, giving me advice and support. Thanks!

JenAdams said...

So glad Jake is doing well and on a positive track!

nora said...

It so nice to see our children on the road to happiness. I am happy for Jake, hopefully he found what he was looking for. I am happy for you too because for now you can just relax and know someone else is watching out for Jake too!