Calm. Calm. Calm on the surface. Functional, stable, controlled. I am calm on the surface, holding all of my desperation in. Inside I am chaos, a storm, desperate to be near my husband. We only saw each other less than 3 weeks ago, yet it feels like a lifetime since he has been transferred further away. Thoughts are creeping in about the distance between us. Anxiety over visiting a new prison is flaring. Worry about potentially having to move and uproot my life once more is real, and it’s making my days long and uncertain.
We’ve barely spoken the last couple of weeks because he is transitioning to another unit so 1 phone call a week and a stack of delayed letters every 5 days or so for now. My heart and mind are going crazy. My life feels like it is hanging in the balance and I am clumsily trying to hold onto something before I fall. I`m trying to hold onto my husband with all of the hope and strength that he usually provides. But he is out of reach right now. He is delayed, separated from me. He is words on a paper that come too late and a phone call that always seems like 5 minutes instead of 15. Whatever imaginary manifestation of what we think our hearts are really for, besides keeping us alive, I am feeling it: heart break, a tired heart, a heart that is aching. I feel sick.
Salvation comes in knowing this is temporary. He will be in another unit soon and I`ll plan my visit and we will connect again in a new place and strategize about our life and what happens next but today I am a cloudy day, some stupid sad song you play over and over when you’re trying to identity with the music and the lyrics. I am everything confused and hopeful.
Tomorrow morning I`m doing Bikram yoga for the first time and I hope I sweat out everything that ails me, I hope I sweat my heart right out of my chest and I hope it materializes again, whole and ready to love and live another day.
My card is going to be late getting to my husband and this bothers me. I didn`t send it on time and it’s actually a good thing but it really doesn’t sit well with me that he won’t be getting a Valentine’s Day card on time. I`m always on time with my cards. This year is different, though. This year started off hopeful and tumbled down a hill of “what the fuck?” and “what’s next?”.
He has been transferred anyway, so my Valentine’s card would have been forwarded around, shifted through dirty hands who have no idea what my life is about. The seal on the envelope would have been broken, the card read, my words reduced to nothing but the desperate love of a wife. This has always bothered me. Being on display. Being someone’s story, someone’s statistic, someone’s joke maybe. The days of losing sleep over that are far gone, though, and what is left is some unresolved ache somewhere deep down. I say I don’t care but there will always be a small part of me that does care that these people treat my love letters and proclamations as romantic porn for their deprived senses.
Anyway, he has been transferred. After all the lobbying to get him back closer to me, all the hopeful lies told to our family over his transfer, all the broken rules and regulations by the prison, he is not closer to me. He is further away. He is now at a prison that we were told was “overcrowded” and that they did not prefer to send him to. Why? To throw another straw on the camel’s back, to make with absolute certainty, that things would not be easy, that there would be no fair treatment. These people get to make decisions about my life and we’ve never even met. Not that it would make a difference. The department of corrections does not care about you or your family or the inmates or what is best. They care about pettiness, revenge, scratching the back of a fellow corrupt official.
Speaking of official. While at my last visit, I heard one guard say it takes the trainees six weeks at the academy to go from regular citizen to having the power over other human being’s lives. Just six weeks to playing God, to fingering my carefully crafted letters, to enforcing the law that they bend to make fit their ideals about life, justice, and appropriate punishment.