Riding down the mountain in the cop car, away from my father and the goat herder life I had been living gave me an eerie feeling, but I was also excited. I had enjoyed many aspects of the mountains, especially my amazing tracker buddie, a Cocker Spaniel named Chelsea. I would miss my freedom, my dad, and living in the beautiful nature of Payson Canyon. I would NOT miss the goats, however, and would be grateful to drink cold cow’s milk from the fridge. I wondered what it would be like to live with another family, in a house, and go to school again. I would be starting school a couple of months into my 9th grade year.
We arrived at the temporary shelter home, located just across the street from the DCFS building after hours. We went in through the back door and other than the house custodian, I was the only one there. He processed me in the office area upstairs and then we descended to the living area in the basement. It was old but clean and well kept. We went through the supply closet, I got so excited- a small box of new toothpaste, a brush, soap, and other things made me feel like it was Christmas! Better yet, the man said I could help myself to the fridge and then he showed me to my room and left. I popped a frozen pizza in the toaster oven and gorged myself on the other goodies I found that I could quickly eat. I knew they’d be checking everything so I only dared to take so much. I felt like a big person staying at a fancy hotel- I had the whole place to myself. I was so excited—I knew I had made the right choice and that my life was going to be great. If I hadn’t been so terribly exhausted I would have stayed up all night just thinking about it all. I was too tired to shower and slipped into bed, promptly falling asleep.
I awoke late in the morning, they had been waiting for me—my caseworker, Mr. B had arrived. I shook Mr. B’s hand, he seemed…nice. He looked tired, with bags under his eyes and an unshaven face. he was in a hurry so we jumped into his beat up old van; once he told me how many kids he had I understood the way he looked. As he drove me to Springville, he told me what a caseworker did and how he would be in charge of me. I could call him if I had questions or problems, he would be checking in on me from time to time, and he would arrange visits between my dad and I when possible.
He also told me about the foster family I was going to. It was an older couple, not exactly a family, although they did have grown children and grandkids. Perhaps, I thought, I’ll be like one of their grandkids and I can become friends with them. I imagined sitting around a bustling table full of people feeling warm, comfortable, and happy. Mr. B. warned me though, he said that the foster mom had had teenagers in the past and didn’t actually like them. He asked me if I thought I would be trouble- I promised I wouldn’t. I’m hardly a teenager anyway, I thought, plus I’m a good boy and I’ll do everything I can not to upset them and make sure they’ll be able to love me. I knew I would love them, I’d be the best foster kid and grandkid ever. A little anxious now, but hopeful, we passed the school I would attend and Mr. B. said “Here it is.” I saw a nice brick home with a big green yard in a quite neighborhood and thought, “How wonderful, I finally have a home.”