One of the most frustrating parts of visiting, besides the small detail of being inside of a prison, is having to abide by dress rules. I`m 28 years ago and all I want to do is look cute when I see my husband, or at least be comfortable which would make me feel a lot more secure. That rarely happens for a number of reasons. 1. I dress conservatively to avoid any hassle or delay in seeing my husband. 2. After visiting Jeremy for ten years, I`ve gotten used to the routine of pants, shoes, top. On the rare occasion I do want to step out of my tomboy comfort zone, I have to worry about material, length, fit, color, and whether or not the prison will let me in with what I`m wearing. I`ve always got back up clothes close at hand just in case. I was caught off guard once, wearing a skirt that was a bit “too short”(with stockings on, mind you) and was denied my visit for the day. Of course, the denial of a visit depends on what time it is, the type of mood the correctional officer is in, who is working, the phase of the moon, whether or not I ate pancakes for breakfast. Basically, it is all on a whim, rules are broken and rebuilt as the day wears on. So I play it safe, but that doesn`t mean it frustrates me any less.
Half the clothes in my closet I wouldn`t really wear on a daily, weekly, or even monthly basis. Some clothes are just there to serve their purposes as “prison choices” for me if I`m feeling tired of wearing the same thing visit after visit. I try not to feel too bad about the whole “wearing the same outfit” deal because, let’s face it, my husband wears the same thing each time and that is just fine by me. It is just a couple of days before I see my husband and I`ll be traveling far to visit him so I make sure I pack “safe”. What’s not allowed? Shorts, Skirts/Dresses more than 2 inches above the knee, tank tops/sleeveless tops, the color blue, anything sheer, open toed shoes, hoods, anything tight or low cut, heels over 2 inches, sweat pants, anything with a logo, and whatever else the correctional officer that day may deem inappropriate. So, for the last few years I`ve worn pants, and a sleeved shirt with sneakers usually. Safe, safe, safe, because I don`t have the time or the patience to be turned around either out to my car to fetch a change of clothing, or sent home because I have no extra clothing.
Today I stood in my bedroom, among a pile of dresses, pants, leggings, and shoes. I was trying all of them on, seeing what I might bring this time, and in the end I just decided I would bring pants and a sleeved top. There is a part of me that doesn’t care about the way I look in a prison, to other prisoners, to the cement and the barbed wire, then there is the woman in me who wants to feel comfortable, pretty, at ease with the fabric she moves in. Each time I go through this process, there is a part of me that cringes with some deep seated insecurity, not only making me think of the clothes I have to wear to visiting, but a deeper nerve is struck. It seems everything is out of my control, even the way I am supposed to look. I`m not sure if this is experienced by anyone else, but I feel it. I feel a loss of control and comfort when all I want to do is wear my blue jeans and hoodie. I feel a loss of freedom when I have to stop and think when shopping for clothing, “Can I wear this to see my husband?”. The answer is usually no and I move on. The wife part of me wants desperately to just have a bit of normalcy, even if it’s just having the absolute choice of the clothing I put on my body when I see my husband.