Monday, June 9, 2014

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The Day I Found My Neighbor’s Grow License (Part III)

Photo by  chascar


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I spoke with an officer Chapman in the Small Town Oregon narcotics division. I told him about what I’d found in my yard. I told him about my fears and anxieties. I told him about what happened in Waldo, and how I didn’t want something like that to happen across the street from me. Then I said, “I suppose what I’m trying to say is, I just want you to help me feel better about all this.”

“Sir,” He said. Then he chuckled, “I’m not sure what you’re asking for.” He had a youthful, but scratchy voice.

“How old are you?” I asked, and he said, “36.”

“I’m 32, and my whole life this has been an illegal drug. It has been associated with crime. And now, in the past year, things are changing. It’s become legal. That’s really fast. I suppose what I’m struggling with is how to deal with that. I’m a father now. Above all, I just want to make sure that my family is safe. Can you help me do that?”

Officer Chapman paused for a moment. The he told me that the house in Waldo was a strange situation. They had a lot of money in that house. And a lot of marijuana. He didn’t see that happening in Small Town Oregon. Then he said, “You just happened to find out about this grow house. In this town alone, we have a lot of them. More than you’d think. In fact, you’d probably be surprised how many people in your neighborhood alone have grow licenses. I’m not saying that I’d want my neighbor growing pot. But what this man is doing is legal, and that’s not going to change. I predict marijuana will be legal in Oregon next year. I don’t agree with it, personally, but it is what it is.”

We talked for a moment more. He answered a few more of my questions. Then he urged me to give my neighbor back his license.

The next day, around 6PM, I walked across the street and knocked on my neighbor’s door. Matthew answered. Around his waist was a white bath towel. His chest was covered in tattoos, and his dark hair was matted on both sides from sleep. He looked at me with confusion, not sure who I was.

I looked at his towel, shook my head, and thought, So this is the man licensed to grow pot in my neighborhood.

“Matthew?” I said.

“Yes.”

“I live across the street. My four-year-old found this in our yard.” I handed him the license. “I think it’s yours.”

He looked at it with confusion. Then he said, “Yeah… it is.”

“Look,” I said, “I don’t give a damn what you do in your house. I don’t care if you grow pot or smoke it. Not my problem. But what I want you to realize is that I’ve got a wife and three small kids across the street. Did you hear what happened in Waldo?”

He shook his head. I told him about the armed robbery, and his eyes opened wide.

“Please keep this stuff locked down. I don’t want anything like that happening here. Realize where you are. You are in a neighborhood. There are kids everywhere. They play in the street.”

As I lectured him, he had a look of fear that reminded me of when I spoke to my 7-year-old son about cleaning his room or not using bad language. At the core, this man was just a child. And suddenly I felt old, like some grumpy old man telling the neighborhood kids to get off my lawn.

Matthew reached out his hand and said, “Sorry, I didn’t catch your name.” As he did, his towel nearly fell. Suddenly things went from serious to comical.

 I never did shake his hand.

“My name is Clint,” I said.

Mathew fixed his towel and said, “You don’t have anything to worry about. It’s all on the level. Locked down. We don’t even smoke pot here.”

“Matthew,” I said. “I can smell pot right now.”

He laughed, and gave me a look that said, Ya got me!

“And the fact that this blew into my yard tells me that you don’t have it on the lock down. Listen, man. I’m not trying to ruin a good thing. Like I said, I don’t care what you do. 15 years ago I’d probably have wanted to hang out on your couch. But the fact is, I’ve got a family now, and that shit doesn’t interest me. What I worry about is having a safe place for my kids. What happened in Waldo sure as hell better not happen here. All that I’m asking is that you help me keep this neighborhood safe. Cool?”

“Yeah,” He said. “Got it. Don’t worry about a thing.”

That was it. Matthew closed his door, and I walked back to my house. We weren’t necessarily friends, but we’d spoken now. I have to assume that there are people out there that grow marijuana responsibly. The kind of people that answer a door fully dressed, and don’t allow their grow license to blow into other yards. I have to assume that Matthew is not representative of the whole.

I told Janet and Bill what happened, and they shook their heads. I told Mel, and she said, “I still don’t like.”

“I’m not in love with it either. But at least I know about it, and I better understand the situation. All we can do now is live our lives and hope for the best.”

Now, when Matthew and I wave at each other from across the street, it’s not a cordial thing anymore. Matthew smiles back, his face seems to say, “You have nothing to worry about.”

And my face seems to say, “I’m watching you.”


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Clint Edwards was blessed with a charming and spitfire wife, a video game obsessed little boy, and a snarky little girl in a Cinderella play dress. When Clint was 9-years-old his father left. With no example of fatherhood, he had to learn how to be a father and husband through trial and error. His essays on parenting and marriage have been featured in New York Times Motherlode, Huffington Post Parents, Huffington Post Weddings, and The Good Men Project. He lives in Oregon. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.
Photo by Lucinda Higley

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