Adam is a third generation Larimer County resident. He was born in Fort Collins in 1965, and his family moved to Loveland when he was a baby. “All of my family come from around here. My mom and grandmother are from Berthoud.” But his father drifted out of the family, and his mother had to shuttle back and forth from Colorado to California for seven years during Adam’s teens, and trouble started to stick.
“I was on probation at 13. My mom wanted to get us back here, because of the gang stuff out there. We had a lot of drive by shootings on her street in (Burbank) California. Guys in lowriders shooting at cars. I grew up street smart.” When asked if he ever joined a gang, he says “No, I never joined anything. I had friends that were in gangs, but that’s as far as that went.”
Colorado suited Adam better as a youth, offering a more wholesome way for a young man to get his kicks. “My uncle ran the dirt bike track at I-25 and the Berthoud exit for over thirty years. I grew up on that track.”
But he also had a mild side, a curiosity about how machines and appliances are built. “When I was a kid I was always taking things apart. I was good with my hands.” He attended Loveland High and soon found jobs with Hewlett-Packard and Woodward Governor doing pc board work. “It came natural to me.” But it took its toll on his wrists. He developed carpal tunnel syndrome and neuropathy of his hands and feet from being diabetic, and is filing for a disability claim. “My last job was at Sam’s (Club). Unloading pallets and handling all those cans, turning them so they face forward was just too much for my hands.”
Another thing that took its toll on Adam was alcohol, and jail. “Too many DUIs.” But he got tired of that lifestyle and quit drinking in 1996 and smoking in 1994 on his own, and eventually received his GED from Larimer County Detention Center in 2005. “I’m proud of that.” He got out of jail just as his mother had an aneurism and was paralyzed on her right side. He would be her caregiver for the next ten years, and she would give him a reason to care. Adam talks about these years with a greater passion than anything else. “The one thing my dad always said was, ‘Make sure you take care of your mom.’”
Adam immersed himself in the task, starting with teaching her to talk again. He shopped and cooked and cleaned everything that needed cleaning. He set up remote controls for the lights and appliances. He got to know his mother again. “It’s the happiest I’ve ever seen her. We’re so close now.” But an unfortunate altercation with a tree-service contractor, which Adam describes as “my mistake” and full of “misunderstandings” landed him back in jail. He smiles and shakes his head. “I try not to get into trouble, but it always seems to come looking for me.”
His mother needed full time care, and Adam’s siblings couldn’t provide it; so, it was decided that the best place for her would be a nursing home until he paid for his mistakes. Adam moved in with a cousin when he got out of jail, but they had a falling out because of his cousin’s “drug problem” and the stealing that often accompanies.
So, he’s been living on the streets of Loveland since the spring of 2017, using the day services at the 137 Shelter and sleeping where he can. He keeps a low profile with the rest of “the community”, not wanting to tempt the trouble spirit. “I try to stay by myself because I’ve got too much to lose – my mom.” Visiting her is his primary enjoyment. His one, true joy. He hasn’t gotten used to the streets. He gets “the look” from passersby because he has a bike trailer with his gear, the look of the transient urban camper. “If they knew my story, they’d understand. Being homeless could happen to anybody.”
When asked what would be of greatest benefit to him and other homeless folk in Loveland, Adam echoes the thoughts of many others who’ve told #visible Loveland their stories: a place where people who are clean and sober can find temporary shelter to get back on their feet. “Everybody has their place where they can go and hide. What we need is a place where we can go comfortably and not get harassed. I’m not a panhandler. I don’t ask people for money.”
But he is the occasional recipient of random acts of kindness. “I’ve had people hand me money when they saw that my bike tire blew. I didn’t ask them to. A woman once came up to me and gave me twenty dollars and said, ‘Here, just for not asking.’” Adam just smiles, and shakes his head.