My name is Desiree, but I could very well be a number. I could be reduced to a number. I could be given a number. I could be a number. Anyone could be really. Maybe my birth date is my “inmate number”. Maybe we are all in some sort of prison. Actually, I believe we are all in some sort of prison, with glimpses of freedom that comes in so many forms. I am the wife of an inmate and I am not the wife of an inmate. It’s tough to tightrope walk that fine line between citizen of the world with a husband who just so happens to be an inmate, and an inmate groupie, someone who actually enjoys the prison experience. I don’t believe I was ever the latter, but I also don’t believe I could truly be so far removed from the prison that I could detach completely. It’s kind of like being handcuffed to my husband with a chain that is hundreds of miles long, the key has been lost, and we manage our separate and very different lives yet are still inextricably linked to one another by heartbeat.
I saw this interview, recently, with a woman who is married to a man who was on death row, but has since been released. She said that she never fell in love with a murderer, that she didn’t want any affiliation with “that lifestyle”, and that she was “educated”, therefore somehow above the prison mess. This woman has been married to her husband for over a decade, so I’m not sure how she could ever not be affiliated with the prison wife life, even long after the release. I felt like I both identified yet loathed this woman’s choice of words about being the other half of a whole in a prison cell. There is that tightrope again and I’m balancing precariously, leaning into the wind and hoping I make it across. I am tiptoeing yet moving like a bull in a China shop. Here I am. I am both a snob who doesn’t wish to be identified with the prison system, a woman who truly feels alone, even amongst others in similar circumstances, and I feel solidarity with some women in my shoes. Maybe this is what that woman feels like too but maybe she has embraced the detachment from prison that may be physical, but that will never truly leave her. When you spend that much time dedicated to a lifestyle it challenges you so much that it must change you, and you will always have the memory of that. I don’t care how many years it has been since, how educated you are, or how much you think you’ve left it behind.
Me, personally? I don’t like prison. I love my husband but I do not enjoy going to prison, having my privacy obliterated, and I don’t hold onto some train of thought that makes prison desirable or fun. I don’t like it. Maybe I am a snob. Maybe I am solo. So many maybes but maybe is all I have because aside from my steadfast and loyal love for my husband, my world is full of maybes, waiting, tightropes, barbed wires, locked doors, and numbers. So many numbers.